Criminological Controversies: A Methodological Primer

Criminological Controversies: A Methodological Primer

Criminological Controversies: A Methodological Primer

Criminological Controversies: A Methodological Primer

Excerpt

It is easy to feel besieged by crime, if only because we hear so much about it. It is an interesting exercise to simply observe how much news about crime we see on television, hear on the radio, and read in newspapers and magazines. Of course, reports about street crime are promibnent. Local news stories feature reports of drug busts, assaults and murders, arson, as well as burglaries and robberies. Meanwhile, new kinds of street crime also proliferate and captivate national attention. Car jackings, drive-by shootings, stalkings, and home invasions compete with more familiar types of crime. In addition, crime penetrates areas of life that we would like to believe are immune to it. Insider trading infests our stock markets, health-care fraud infects our hospitals, violence intrudes into our schools, illegal recruiting invades our amateur sports, sexual abuse infiltrates religious institutions, and corruption may be an integral part of our politics. So much around us seems so full of criminal implications.

The impact of crime on society has caused controversy, and criminology is increasingly a part of the public debate. Since science at large often has proven so useful in solving serious problems, it seems reasonable to expect that a science of crime should better inform us about, if not solve, our crime problems. Criminology, the scientific study of crime, often seeks to do so, although the progress is painfully slow. Developing insights takes time, especially when empirical accuracy is a necessity. The first steps of this infant science have largely involved adding rigor and perspective to our understanding of crime. For example, we have begun by simply gaining some sense of what crime is and how much there is of it. Even these very basic questions bring controversy.

Thus, it has taken criminologists a considerable amount of time to establish the point that there is much more to crime than the acts of force and predation that occur on our streets. The famous criminologist Edwin Sutherland (1949) devoted much of his career to convincing his peers and the public that many of the sharp and unethical practices of businessmen were indeed criminal. Sutherland coined the term white- collar crime and helped to make it a part of our everyday vocabulary. To do so, Sutherland sought to convince his peers and the public that many of our large corporations and their executives participated in activities . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.