• 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 and assess critically the contribution that positivist ...

    To the individual perspective it's a moral consensus, where the normal and abnormal are labelled. While the sociological views it as a collective consensus, as if society shares the same aspirations. Both fail to acknowledge the plurality of thought within individuals, and society.

  2. 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.

  1. Parson's structural functionalism and the family

    Furthermore, feminists claim that household chores are not 'expressive' and that if women were to partake in employment, they would be burdened with the 'triple shift' which means that they would have to return to the home after work and carry out all the domestic labour as well. Moreover, Gittins(1985)

  2. The Limits of Post Modern Theory

    The emphasis on spatial analysis in Jameson's work, and postmodernism generally, has emerged from a much wider debate within the social sciences and particularly from the work of Marxist geographers in the mid-70s. The new geographers challenged the privileged position accorded to temporality in social theory, insisting on the necessity of a more dynamic conception of space.

  1. Theories of Rights. John Rawls, one of the most celebrated contemporary philosophers, puts ...

    Rawls (1999) cited in Hayden (2001) theorises that parties in the original position realise they're rational beings who are capable of planning their futures and 'although they do not know the details of those plans, they do know that the plans require certain sorts of goods for their satisfactory completion' (Wolff, 1977: 133).

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

    Wikipedia (2004) states that many societies throughout history have displayed forms of graffiti on their buildings and monuments. The Celts, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Vikings all carved or drew symbols and messages onto walls or other surfaces. However, 'graffiti' was a term originally used to describe the wall carvings found

  1. The issue of corporate crime i.e. why businessmen as opposed to the working class ...

    legally; they will develop methods, which allow them to achieve their goals by illegal means (synonymous with Merton's 'innovation' adaptation21). Box further believes that most of corporate crime is initiated by high-ranking officials, which suggests that they are the least likely, to be suspected of being criminal, as they are

  2. In order to attempt to control crime it is important to understand why people ...

    This assumption is clearly not accurate as a majority of crimes are committed on impulse. There is also a suggestion that involvement in family, jobs etc restricts us from the opportunity to deviate. This, however, does not explain situations where the deviant may be completely bonded with society through a job and family, and yet still commit occupational crimes.

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