Critical Criminology, Crime
Classical criminology is considered to be the first formal school of
Classical criminology is associated with 18th and early 19th century
reforms to the administration of justice and the prison system. Associated with authors
such as Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Samuel Romilly
(1757-1818), and others, this school brought the emerging philosophy of liberalism and
utilitarianism to the justice system, advocating principles of rights, fairness and due
process in place of retribution, arbitrariness and brutality.
Classical criminology had developed as a question about punishment and
neo-classical criminology as a question about the criminal.
Critical criminologists see in these reforms a tool by which the new
industrial order of capitalism was able to maintain class rule through appearing to apply
objective and neutral rules of justice rather than obvious and direct class domination
Criminal law is stated in terms of moral universals rather than being
seen as rules that simply protect the interests of property holders. The claims to
fairness in the justice system provide a sense of legitimation for the state and the order
Classical criminology, derived from the political philosophy of the Enlightenment,
views criminal conduct as a matter of human nature. Specifically, criminal behavior is a
matter of freewill or choice. The ideas of classical criminology provided the foundation
of the American criminal justice system. Current versions of classical criminology include
the economic approach, rational choice, routine activities and the general theory of
crime. - Explaining Criminal Conduct, Paul Knepper Crime and Human
Nature - Overview - Chapter 2 - describes classical criminology.
Classical Criminology, Reasons
for its Persistence - Klasicna Kriminologija - Razlogi za Njeno Trdozivo
Aktualnost; Kanduc Zoran - Journal: Revija za kriminalistiko in kriminologijo
Volume:53 Issue:1 Dated: January-March 2002 Pages:12 to 25
Abstract: Classical criminology is a modern way of thinking about criminal offenses and
ways of dealing with them. It is often presented as diametrically opposed to positivist
criminology. These two important schools of criminology have a number of characteristics
in common, including a desire to establish the most effective system of prevention of acts
considered to be the most dangerous. Historical development has shown that classical and
positivist criminology is not incompatible at the operative level. Modern criminal law is
in fact a social institution comprising elements of both of these approaches to crime. The
popularity of classical concepts of a criminal offense, criminal offender, and criminal
sanctions is not hard to explain because they are deeply rooted in the ideology of the
modern world, based on the principle of endless accumulation of capital. World capitalism
is reaching a situation of extreme insecurity in the transition to a new world order. A
classical paradigm, as well as a positivist, becomes more anachronistic. This fact has to
be taken into consideration because of the renewed interest in classic ideas that has been
witnessed in the last decade.
If Reason is Not Sovereign:
The Function of Reason in Hume and Consequences for the Classical/Positivist Divide, Rational Choice Theory, Low Self-Control Theory, and the Criminal Propensity Construct.
- Kissner, Michael Jason , PhD Dissertation - etd.lib.fsu.edu
Abstract: This work shows that classical criminological doctrine has been misunderstood
and that the consequences of this misunderstanding for contemporary criminological theory
and research are grave. In particular, classical criminologists subscribe to a view of
rationality that is strikingly different from that which is usually attributed to them.
Classical criminologists deny that behavior is invariably rational, and hold that
emotional considerations are determinative of the degree of rationality expressed in any
given behavior. This view, called emotional determinism, is used to generate a
theory of criminal propensity that can be empirically tested. The theory is intended as a
replacement for Gottfredson and Hirschis 1990 low self-control theory, which, while
influential, succumbs to the criticism that it is too heavily reliant on rational choice
principles. Finally, the work suggests that the genuine distinction between classical and
positivist criminologies consists in the fact that as empiricists classical criminologists
are committed to holding that environmental forces can in principle be used to dissuade
even the most committed of criminals.