What are the Basics of Critical Criminology?

While criminology is the scientific study of the interactions that inherently occur between criminals and the public or the criminal elements and society, critical criminology is slightly different. This concept of criminology has a solid foundation in the belief that a singular crime is considered to be criminal due to the historical and social beliefs at the time. For example, one famous illustration of this is that homosexuality was considered to be illegal for individuals in the United Kingdom. This type of interaction between individuals was declared legal for men over 21, but this was not until 1967. Since there is nothing within the act that changed over the years, the only thing that changed was the judicial government at the time and what they believed was morally right or wrong. Overall, there is nothing deemed inherently wrong about the act itself. One of the main questions that individuals interested in critical criminology need to ask themselves whether or not an act is a crime because it is wrong or whether it is merely a crime because someone with the elected power decided to make it so.

Within critical criminology, there are a number of theories that have been formed. Conflict theories were never very popular within the United States, in part due to the fact that during the late 1970ís, when critical criminology was more popular, there were many criminology departments that were closed due to political reasons. Other critical criminologists were concerned that conflict theories did not properly address the different issues that faced society. Critics of conflict theories that exist in criminology maintain that these individuals ignored some important differences in the level of criminal activities between socialist and capitalist societies. Japan and Switzerland are two countries that are socialist in nature, but they have extremely low rates of crime in their countries, as compared to capitalist societies like the United States of America.

In feminist theories, individuals attempt to give another dimension to criminology, in the form of gender. The supporters of these theories are for the most part trying to bring a new form of awareness to the way crime is viewed. Instead of focusing on criminals who are male performing crimes against other males, it is argued that criminologists need to investigate more how the female affects this preconceived approach to crime. Many parties concerned with this type of critical approach to criminology also try to educate other female criminologists. This is important to this group of individuals because too many times, female criminologists will adopt the male perspective and perpetuate the same cycle of applying male concepts on females in the world of crime.

While there are other theories that are applicable in the field of criminology, such as postmodern and peacemaking theories, the conflict and feminist theories are the most prevalent ones within the world of criminology at large. By looking at the way that different theories can be applied to criminology and the different areas that fall under the term, individuals are able to learn more about the society in which they live. Another point that can be explored would be how the criminal relates to the society in which the crime is committed.

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