• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Classical Criminology

Extracts from this document...


The Strengths and Weaknesses of Classical Criminology The development of the Classical theory was at a time where society was experiencing vast changes with the movement from feudalism to that of capitalism. This substantial transition took place in the 18th Century or Renaissance period where views and attitudes on religion were being challenged. Due to the influence of religion upon society at the time the challenge that it faced deeply affected society, including that of attitudes to crime. Feudalism was based upon repression with the majority of power, wealth and land being in the hands of only a few people. There was a significant absence of legal rights, punishment was brutal and justice was personalised. In reaction to this a group known as the 'enlightenment' philosophers emerged who argued that 'human problems should be tackled by the application of reason, rather than tradition, religion or superstition.'1 The Enlightenment thinkers argued for a criminal justice system which was 'predictable, non-discriminatory, humane and effective.'2 This line of argument formed the basis for the classicalist theory. The Classical theory relies on the principle that humans have individual rights, the capacity to reason and the 'rule of law.' ...read more.


The introduction of 'mitigating circumstances' as a possible solution could be countered in that it would conflict with the free will and rational argument upon which the Classical theory is based. The Classical theory also fails to recognise that crime is not distributed throughout society equally. The Classical argument suggests crime occurs due to temporary irrationality but this does not explain why crime occurs in predominately low income areas.9 Classical theory fails to recognise that the inequalities in society are often the cause of crime and when suggesting all are equal before the law we are confronted with a major contradiction. The inequality in society also highlights the difference between formal law and substantive law because certain individuals in society have the means to exploit the legal system through knowledge and lawyers whereas others cannot.10 Similarly with punishments, which although may be proportional to the crime, affect members of society in noticeably different ways. For example a poorer individual may experience far greater implications upon being found guilty, in that they could lose income and any future work opportunities, whereas a more affluent person could still manage. ...read more.


Thinking Seriously about Crime: some models of criminology by Jock Young pg 8 6 Thinking Seriously about Crime: some models of criminology by Jock Young pg 9 7 'laws could promote crime by diminishing the human spirit therefore a careful matching of the crime and its punishment, in keeping with the general interests of society, could make punishment a rational instrument of government.' by Beccaria in Theoretical Criminology: from modernity to post-modernism by Wayne Morrison pg.74 8 Crime and Criminology an introduction by R.D White and Fiona Haines pg 32 9 'Rational choice may lead some to offend precisely because of social inequalities. Equality before the law masks this reality.' Crime and Criminology an introduction by R.D White and Fiona Haines pg 33 10 'It is a common complaint that a powerful individual or organisation appears able to avoid the spirit of the law, while complying with the letter of the law.' Crime and Criminology an introduction by R.D White and Fiona Haines pg 33 11 http://www.iub.edu/~socpages/FUNCTIONALISM.htm 12 http://www.iub.edu/~socpages/FUNCTIONALISM.htm 13 http://www.iub.edu/~socpages/FUNCTIONALISM.htm 14 http://www.iub.edu/~socpages/FUNCTIONALISM.htm 15 Theoretical Criminology: from modernity to post-modernism by Wayne Morrison pg.73 16 Thinking Seriously about Crime: some models of criminology by Jock Young pg 8 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Social Theory section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Social Theory essays

  1. Outline what you understand to be Weber's theory of ideal types. Provide some examples ...

    understanding of the world as it was through the eyes of the person who lived at the time. The process involves attempting to identify the encouraging choices and the inhibiting factors that constrain or urge the actor down a particular path.

  2. Outline and assess critically the contribution that positivist ...

    There is also an assumption that criminal behaviour is the result of social disorganization. They fail to acknowledge that it could be a different kind of organization with different cultural values (Muncie & McLaughlin 2004). Both perspectives adhere to the belief of a consensus in society.

  1. theories of inequality in society

    Brown and Lauder concluded that improved educational and training opportunities are not enough. While they are necessary, they need to be supplemented by policies which will ensure that nobody is too deprived to have a good chance of succeeding in the education system.

  2. A research project into the perceptions of graffiti by certain individuals and groups can ...

    (Deal and Spar, 1998,p.4) It could be suggested, therefore that the sub cultural practice of the graffiti writing, connected to hip-hop, is a form of art now embedded within a wider urban culture. In terms of the political statements found scrawled on the walls, doors and flat surfaces of the UK, Melly (1975,p.8)

  1. Did the classical theorists fully comprehend the significance of capitalism.Although the term capitalism was ...

    This leads to a separation of the 'economic' and the 'political' class relationships, governed by the contractual ties entered into by capital and wage-labour on the open market. Thereby become purely 'economic' relationships in a specific sense. It is here is abstract model of capitalism begins from a difficult problem

  2. Consensus perspective

    While Marx claimed that society was characterised by a core struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, he did identify the existence of additional classes. He maintained that members of the main social classes are unacquainted and na�ve of the true nature of their situations, i.e.

  1. Attitude Measure Using Either The Thurstone Method Or The Likert Method. Critically Discuss The ...

    Factor 1: Value Judgement - 1) Drug use leads to delinquency 2) Drugs lead to moral deterioration 3) Drug use expresses irresponsibility 4) Drug users should not be trusted 5) The majority of drug users are criminals 6) A person using drugs is immoral The relevance of this factor is primarily in the manifestations of a moral judgement by the respondent, of a drug user.

  2. Is deviance a social necessity

    Others take the biological viewpoint that suggests there are defects in the human anatomy. The idea that deviance is inherited has been argued that it is true, however recent research has shown inheritance of some deviant behaviour, such as alcoholism, has no relationship to the biological opinion (E.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work