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Any account of the development of criminology should begin by looking back to Europe in the late 18th century

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Any account of the development of criminology should begin by looking back to Europe in the late 18th century. This was a time of great social upheaval and change. Science was beginning to be a new force and, for the first time, it began to challenge the doctrines of established religion in seeking to explain social phenomenon including crime and deviance. Up until this point any thoughts or discussions on crime and deviance had mainly centred on the Christian church's belief that criminals were no different from 'ordinary' people, but that their deviant behaviour was merely evidence of mans inherent 'sinful state'. (The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, 2002) Beccaria's book 'Of Crime and Punishment' published in 1764, was one of the first books to attempt to analyse criminal behaviour using this new scientific approach. He wrote a critique of the existing legal systems claiming that they were unfair. He said they were unfairly biased towards privileged members of society. He was also one of the first so suggest that punishments should be appropriate to the crime committed and claimed that this would help 'rational' people to make decisions not to commit crime. ...read more.


Bowlby concluded from this that offending may be caused by an interruption of the attachment process between an infant and its mother (or primary caregiver) during the infant's formative years. He called this his 'maternal deprivation hypothesis' and claimed that 'emotional deprivation' and disturbance to the normal attachment process will have an adverse effect on normal social development which, he claimed, would lead to criminal behaviour in later life. (Psychology for AS Level, 2003). While both theories discussed previously are 'individual' theories of crime, there are also many 'social' theories, which look, not at the individual, but at society as a whole to try and explain what role it may have in creating crime and criminals. One of these social or environmental theories is Durkheim's functionalist theory of criminology. Durkheim claimed that there is crime in all societies and that it is in fact 'an integral part of all healthy societies' (Durkheim, cited in Haralambos, 2004). He said that it is actually healthy to have some level of crime as, by looking at and defining crime, society can establish and enforce what it defines as right and moral. ...read more.


They claim that even though those crimes committed by the powerful are more damaging they receive much less punishment than those committed by the less powerful. They also claim that when crimes are committed by the disadvantaged people in society it is done for reasons of 'subsistence' that is, they feel it is necessary because they cannot afford to by the things they need, whereas the powerful are motivated by greed, something that is actively encouraged by capitalist society. Over the years there has been a gradual shift from theories that seek to find the individual criminal responsible for their behaviours and deviancies to ones that look to society at large for explanations of crime and deviancy. We can see that each theory is a product of its time. Each is influenced by other scientific ideas around at the time they were proposed. If we look at the theories that have been proposed in chronological order we can see how later theories often contain elements of previous ones. There has been clear scientific progress made in criminology over the last 150 years. It has developed from unscientific 'common sense' thinking into complex, highly organised schools of thought, with genuine scientific principles. ...read more.

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