Sociology Index


Classical criminology is considered to be the first formal school of criminology. Critical Criminology is associated with early reforms to the administration of justice and the prison system. Classical criminology had developed as a question about punishment and neo-classical criminology as a question about the criminal. Associated with authors such as Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Samuel Romilly (1757-1818), and others, classical criminology brought the emerging philosophy of liberalism and utilitarianism to the justice system, advocating principles of rights, fairness and due process model in place of retribution, arbitrariness and brutality.

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 through coercion. 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 theory, 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.
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 criminology 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 capital accumulation. 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.


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 -
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. Finally, the work suggests that the genuine distinction between classical criminology and positive school of 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.