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Critical Criminology, as a specific theoretical approach to explaining, understanding and controlling crime is not as clearly defined as one might initially wish when it is called on one to assess its contribution to criminology.

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Introduction

Critical Criminology, as a specific theoretical approach to explaining, understanding and controlling crime is not as clearly defined as one might initially wish when it is called on one to assess its contribution to criminology. It is not, however, certainly not an ambiguous term. The only root of the problems with the precise definition of its constitution lie in the fact that it has so many overlaps (and contrasts) with differing Left, radical theories and, in essence is a term used to group together a large body of leftist criminological theory. This is expressed in Ronald L. Akers's assertation that it encompasses various "radical standpoints"(Akers, 1999; 176). John Tierney adopted a much more deterministic approach to his presentation of leftist criminological theory and attempted to, insofar as possible, polarise Critical " Left idealist" criminology with "left realism", respectively reflecting the two most dominant strands of left criminological theorisation over the past 20 years. (Tierney, 1996; 283-4) At any rate, critical criminology is essentially a left-wing idealist and anti-logocentric approach to criminology, drawing its central body of thought from Marxism and attempting a severe critique of mainstream criminology, often making claims which almost entirely negate the fundamental foundations of criminology as we know it. ...read more.

Middle

It is from this difference that one of the greatest criticisms of critical criminology stems; Criminal criminologists are not concerned with causal explanations or practical solutions per se, instead they focus on the construction and application of the law (Tierney, 1996; 283). In other words they seem to be so occupied with analysing the legal system and the social construction of crime that they ignore explanations and control of crime (Tierney, 1996; 283). One of the other major criticisms of critical criminologists (voiced most fervently by the left realists) is that they, rather than seeking to actively reduce crime (and thus improve society in the present), are more concerned with the establishment of a crime-free socialist utopia as the only (and, they claim, complete) worthwhile effort at solving the crime problem. (Tierney, 1996; 285) This can hardly be interpreted as a pragmatic and dynamic way of practically tackling crime. In my opinion this method of helping history "run its course" in order to allow for the emergence of a crime free society can be interpreted as a cop-out for not having to propose any inventive and new methods of dealing with crime practically. Critical criminologists, when they actually suggest solutions to crime, have adopted overly na�ve and idealistic stances which again have been interpreted as cop-outs by suggesting such solutions as "declaring peace on crime rather than war" (Ibid.). ...read more.

Conclusion

Rather than doing so, in fact, it has merely attempted to negate and discredit any other suggestions and methods in practice on theoretical principals. The Critical movement in Criminology, however, has certainly made a significant contribution to developing a more true and objective field of study. This can be exemplified in the development of "constitutive criminology" of Henry and Milovanovic which consists of a synthesis of critical criminology, "left realism", phenomenology and the sociology of law. (Akers, 1999; 176 and Downes & Rock, 1998; 364) Perhaps it could be said that Critical Criminology has dug its own hole by adhering too much to its own principal beliefs without allowing for reflexive reconstitution of those principals. It's lack of practical suggestions can be demonstrated in Gross's comment that "on crime more than on most matters, the left seems bereft of ideas"(Gross; 1982 in Tierney; 1996 p.283). Its emphasis on which crimes are paid most attention to as a result of arbitrary construction is significant to the field of criminology. Also its attention to the penal system and its abolitionist stance may be significant in a much-needed investigation into the effectiveness of the current prison system. Unfortunately, critical criminologists paid no attention to the practical failings of prison in their denunciation of it as a system. ...read more.

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