Criminology: What Is It And What Does It Study?

Most people have a realistic idea of ​​the work of a doctor or lawyer. However, if we were to ask what criminology is and what a criminologist does, many would not know how to answer.
Criminology: what is it and what does it study?

Criminology was born in the early 19th century as a response to a social need concerning the study of the origin of antisocial behavior. It is therefore a new science. In fact, until relatively recently, the company was not aware of its great contribution and value.

An interdisciplinary science, as it draws on other sciences. His fields of study are delinquency, crime, victims, criminals, social control, etc.

Person standing with his face in the shadow.

Definition of criminology

Criminology is an ever-expanding discipline, both in scientific terms and in field applications.

We can define it as an interdisciplinary science that brings together knowledge and methodologies that come from other disciplines including law, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, forensic medicine.

One of the first discoveries made by criminology is that crime is a real problem of varying intensity that depends on human societies.

Another relevant conclusion is that crime is a phenomenon that is built on the basis of the social reaction of rejection among citizens. On the one hand, reality; on the other hand, the social processing of crime has more than a hundred years of criminological analysis behind it.

Starting from these premises, criminology is the science that studies both criminal behavior and personality and the social reaction to such behavior. He undertakes to study both aspects.

What do you study?

Regarding the object or objects of study of criminology, there are two different positions. The first is reductionist. He argues that his subject of study is the same as that of criminal law: crime.

Those who adopt this position believe that criminology has no object of study of its own. The second, on the other hand, is the most popular today and argues that there are five fields of study:

  • Crime (as a social phenomenon).
  • Crime (as an individual action, but also as a group action).
  • Criminals (understood as those, men or women, who commit crimes).
  • Victims (people who suffer the consequences of crimes).
  • Social control (as a reaction to crimes).

Like the previous one, this position also received several criticisms. Critics argue that it is not possible to build an authentic science starting from such diversified claims.

The aims of criminology

Criminology has different purposes, among which interventions for the prevention of criminal phenomena stand out.

The aim is to obtain a control and a reduction of criminal phenomena, but also the reintegration into society of the condemned (for example through prison education).

Criminology and criminalistics are not synonymous

Even today, a large part of non-professionals think that the terms criminology and criminalistics are synonyms. The reality is that they are two different disciplines.

Criminology is a science still in the consolidation phase that is known thanks to programs and TV series that do not exactly reflect reality.

There is a tendency to abuse the term criminology to refer to functions typical of criminalistics. Hence the confusion between the two terms.

Person at the crime scene who collects evidence.

What is the difference between the two disciplines?

Criminalistics is a discipline that uses scientific and technological methods to determine the existence of a criminal act. In this sense, it is concerned with collecting clues and evidence of a crime.

Criminology, for its part, seeks to answer, through empirical research, questions concerning the social and individual factors that influence people’s criminal behavior and how control systems influence criminal conduct.

Furthermore, criminalistics also helps us to identify the persons responsible for a crime and their degree of involvement. As we have seen, although the two disciplines are different, they complement each other.

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