Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900

Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900

Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900

Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900

Synopsis

The history of crime and criminal justice is one of the liveliest growth areas in historical studies. Much of the initial research in the field concentrated on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as historians sought to relate changes in crime and the criminal justice system to the larger changes resulting from industrialization and the capitalization of industry. That work continues, but recent interest in the period has been shifting from property crime to violent crime - a change of emphasis strongly influenced by the rise of women's history. In this welcome Second Edition of his widely respected, and widely used, survey of the subject (first published in 1987), Clive Emsley has taken full account of these fresh perspectives. His book is in two parts. The first examines perceptions of criminality during the period, using both crime statistics and also contemporary notions of class and fear of the city. It highlights the scale of workplace and white collar crime, and the relative absence of women offenders in the courts. The second part explores the changes in the courts, the police and the system of punishment. As before, Professor Emsley challenges the traditional simplistic view that crime was the work of a criminal class, and that changes in the criminal justice system resulted simply from the efforts of far-sighted reformers. He also takes issue with analyses which explain crime patterns wholly in terms of the trade cycle; and changes in law, policing and punishment largely by reference to the demands of an emerging industrial, capitalist society. For the Second Edition, he has revised the text throughout to take account of the latest research, and contributed an entirelynew chapter on crime and gender. Up to date and as engrossingly readable as ever, this book fully reasserts its claim to be the standard introduction to the subject for students, scholars and non-specialist readers alike.

Excerpt

In the decade since I finished the first edition of this book interest in the subject has, if anything, increased. Also, particularly with the development of women's history, perspectives have shifted. I have not, however, thought it necessary to change the basic structure of the book. It seemed to work the first time; I hope it will again. There is a completely new chapter on crime and gender; but elsewhere I have settled for amendments and some restructuring within the old chapter format.

Once again my thanks are due to all of those who helped me with the first edition, and to those whose work has stimulated me since. Many of those whose names appear in the footnotes are friends who have always been generous with their advice, and who deserve rather more thanks than simple footnoting will allow. They have also made studying the history of crime fun for me, not least because of the humour which has accompanied several recent conferences; together, we have laughed through the Putteridge Bury blizzard and the penitential cells of Roehampton. But again, above all my thanks go to Jennifer — no longer the family taxi driver (they drive themselves), but still labouring heroically in coping with me.

Bedford
April 1995 . . .

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