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An Introduction to Criminology

Aug 7, 2008
Few subjects arouse so universal or so deep an interest as the study of crime. This interest is due in the main to the adventurous and romantic traits in human nature. Criminal conduct appeals to these human traits because it is regarded as being a spontaneous response to impulse, and even the most prosaic and conventional individual chafes to a certain extent under the restrictions of law and morality. If this interest is not so great as to become morbid, it may have great utility, because crime is both a serious practical problem and an important subject for scientific study.

During the past century the extent to which scientific methods have been applied to the study of human and social phenomena has increased greatly. To be sure, there still is much opposition to the scientific study of these phenomena. Some of this opposition arises from anthropocentric notions with regard to the exalted position of man in the universe. Some of it arises from anti-scientific theological dogmas. Some of it is due to propagandists who are eager to push through certain social reforms, and are therefore unwilling to await the results of careful and cautious scientific investigation. All of this opposition creates a prejudice against attributing human conduct to natural causes. But slowly this opposition is being overcome, and crime will before long be regarded as a purely natural phenomenon.

Special attention has been devoted to the study of crime and the criminal since the remote past. The early pseudosciences of physiognomy and phrenology attempted to describe the traits of the criminal. At the present time many sciences are contributing to this study. From the laboratories of these sciences, from the researches of scientific workers, from statistical investigations of various kinds are to be derived the facts for the study of crime and the criminal. These facts are not adequate as yet for a final synthesis, but they nevertheless have great scientific and practical value.

Criminology is not one of the fundamental sciences, but is a hybrid product of several sciences. Zoology, anthropology, history, and sociology contribute to the description of the nature, origin, and evolution of crime. Meteorology, demography, and the special social sciences, such as economics, politics, etc., contribute to the analysis of the environmental causes of crime. Anatomy, physiology, psychology, and psychiatry furnish the facts and methods for the study of the traits and types of criminals. Comparative jurisprudence and law contribute to the study of the penal treatment of crime and the criminal.

Consequently, many scientific methods are applied in criminological research. Zoological, anthropological, and historical methods are used in tracing the evolution of crime from its prototypes among animals to the forms it takes in civilized society.

Meteorological methods are utilized in studying the influence of the weather, climate, season, topography, and other telluric forces upon criminal conduct. These factors of the external physical environment are of fundamental importance in any study of conduct. Demographic methods are used in studying the influence of the density and distribution of the population, of the increase or decrease of population, and of migrations of population.

The sociological method involves a study of the numerous social factors which cause criminal conduct and play a part in making criminals and criminal types. Among these factors are the economic, political, religious, moral, and artistic factors. Closely connected with the sociological method is the statistical method, because it is frequently used in sociological investigation. But the statistical method may be used to aid any of the other methods, so that it must be regarded as ancillary to all of these methods.
About the Author
Malcolm Blake has researched and written about crime and its consequences. To see some of his other writings, visit:

Find Person Phone Search, and also
Find Person Address, and finally
How To Find A Person On The Internet
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