Introduction: understanding some
key features of criminology
Some domain assumptions within criminology as a discipline
Criminology and modernity
How to define the criminal
What influences talk about crime?
What do we know about crime?
What is known about criminal victimization?
Criminology, politics and criminal justice policy
Conclusion: what are the key features of criminology?
A book like this one, entitled Understanding Criminology, begs a number of important questions about its subject matter in its very title. Such a title makes a number of claims: that there is an area of study clearly identifiable as criminology; that that area of study has a clearly definable subject matter; that there is some agreement as to what that subject matter comprises; and that there is a range of concepts that are commonly used and commonly understood with which to talk about that subject matter. Each of these claims is contentious. In this Introduction we shall endeavour to examine the nature of these claims in an effort to appreciate the problems inherent in talking about crime. First of all, it will be useful to develop some appreciation of what characterizes criminology as a discipline and how its subject matter might be defined.