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The Strengths and Weaknesses of Classical Criminology

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  • Essay length: 2076 words
  • Submitted: 20/06/2006
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University Degree Social Theory

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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.'

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