• 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. Is deviance a social necessity

    Some beliefs show that to become "deviant" you go through a change in identity, normal to deviant. These have to be compared with the social norms of society, which have been set through decades of years that we now just take for granted, for example no stealing.

  1. theories of inequality in society

    (SLOHN) notes that people with low levels of educational attainment are more likely to have poor health as adults, and so by improving education for all will tackle one the main causes of inequalities in health. (SLOHN) has developed many strategies to do so, these include, 'Cooking for kids', a programme that provides facts about nutrition and preparing food.

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

    He found that crime rates showed an amazing regularity, for example crime against persons occurred least in December when property crime was at its highest, with the exact opposite occurring in June. This pattern of crime however does not show a cause of crime but rather a correlation (Muncie & McLaughlin 2004)

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

    as they seem to 'know how to get whatever they want, but they do not know what they want', whereas 'we know what we want but we do not know how to get it'. Wolff (1977: 141) declares he cannot think of a 'less persuasive portrait of true rationality'.

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

    Their social capital model claimed that personal bonds developed later in life could alter the level of self-control of an individual6. It could be argued that Gottfredson and Hirschi fail to recognise obvious biological changes that occur. Maturity must have an effect on crime in that the young and immature

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

    to be present at the site of the ancient city of Pompeii in Italy. The Latin slogans present there, containing insults, declarations of love and political opinion, are of similar categories too much of the graffiti we find in the public toilets of today (ibid)

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

    Landlords, Shopkeepers). His diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which modern industry is maintained. And his specialized skills are constantly rendered worthless by new methods of production. According to Marx's 'class' ultimately results from inter-relationships among individual relationships to the factors of production; thus beyond economic wealth.

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