The purpose of The Sociology of Crime and Delinquency is to provide the student of criminology with ready access to some of the most important contemporary sociological literature in this field. The book should, therefore, be of value to students in any variety of undergraduate or graduate courses in criminology and delinquency and to their instructors.
This book, along with its companion volume, The Sociology of Punishment and Correction, can be used as a text or as supplemental reading in a single general undergraduate course covering both crime and correction. If there are two separate undergraduate courses, the books can be used as texts or supplements in each respective course. Some colleges and universities offer special courses in juvenile delinquency, and although both books can advantageously be used, because crime-causation studies usually involve juveniles, The Sociology of Crime and Delinquency is especially applicable to these courses.
We have not subscribed to the idea that the undergraduate student in criminology is interested merely in being entertained. Students today are more research oriented than ever before and are seeking knowledge that bears the imprint of the scientific approach. Criminology is a sufficiently colorful and intriguing field of study in itself to enlist the interest of capable minds without having to resort to devices designed to arouse attention. The scientific study of crime, although still close to its nascency, has been maturing toward a sophisticated level of theory and research. Isolated and reformistic in its early stages in America, criminology today embraces a broader framework of scientific attitude and inquiry. The table of contents will show that considerable attention has been given to articles and selections from books that are empirical, theoretical, or that contain detailed descriptive studies. For these reasons, the book can very profitably be used in graduate courses.
We have used some selections that are well known to scholars in the field and are considered traditional; they are traditional because they made substantial impacts or are contributions that have endured. We believe that students should become familiar with them. Substantive contributions involving different viewpoints and critiques of these positions have also been included. We have emphasized areas that involve problems of theory and research, such as the meaning of criminological study, the collection of data, limitations of research design, difficulties of data interpretation, and delineation of sub-fields of investigation. Most authors offer suggestions for research or provocative insights for further development of their theories. In these ways the student in advanced graduate study can not only become informed and more knowledgeable about criminology but also can have on hand some of the most meaningful critiques and encouragements for engaging in his own field studies and theoretical analyses.
Criminology courses in the United States are generally taught in departments of sociology. The editors of these selections and authors of the introductory remarks for each section are sociologists. Consequently, we have tried to keep the book (1) sociological, (2) contemporary in research, theory, and description (even though some of the articles are over twenty years old), and (3) empirical, wherever appropriate and possible.
The abundance of excellent sociological materials available reflects the primary orientation of American criminology. Historical studies, for example, such as may be found in Pioneers in Criminology (London: Stevens and Sons; Chicago: Quadrangle Press, 1960), form an important background for an understanding and perspective of contemporary research and thought. However, the inclusion of non-sociological, that is, biological and psychological, and historical studies would have resulted in a . . .