The Social and Intellectual Context of Criminology

Joachim J. Savelsberg

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:
The Social and Intellectual Context of Criminology

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A hallmark of established academic fields is systematic self-reflection and scientific thought about the state of the field and the degree of embeddedness in the intellectual and social contexts on which each depends. Criminology, understood here as the scientific study of criminal behavior and its causes and of the constitution and control of crime by states and societies, is a relatively new academic field. It has developed most of its own institutions, undergraduate and graduate programs, scholarly associations, journals, and funding programs in the course of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The call for scientific thought about the nature and environment of criminology as an intellectual and scientific endeavor has been raised with growing intensity, but the scientific study of criminology in this sense is still in its infancy. While some studies of criminology as a scholarly field fit well in the tradition of the history or sociology of science, many contributions are, albeit insightful at times, everyday accounts of criminology’s practitioners (akin to a criminology that seeks to explain crime through narratives of people who engage in it). Risks are increased for at least three reasons. First, such analysts have a vested interest in the institutions of this field. Second, criminology grows in close proximity to the state and its massive institutions of control (as a funding source and supplier of concepts and data). Third, its applied branch supplies government authorities with advice on how to effectively use their monopoly of the legitimate use of force toward citizens. Criminology has distinct roots in different countries and on different continents, and it has undergone massive shifts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. These features are reflected in the organization of this bibliography by historic time and places, diverse social forces affecting criminology, and atypical genres such as (auto-)biographies. Many publications could be placed under more than one category of course; in these cases we chose the category that best fits. We did not include newsletter contributions in which some thought about the state of criminology is reflected.

Article.  10283 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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