The Criminal Area: A Study in Social Ecology

By Terence Morris | Go to book overview

III
SOME ECOLOGICAL STUDIES OF THE 19TH CENTURY

C RIMINOLOGICAL studies in the 19th century were very largely based upon published social statistics or upon the results of investigation by zealous social reformers and administrators, anxious about the moral welfare of the community. By and large they could be described as sociological in that they attempted to identify regularities in the pattern of criminal behaviour or that they tackled some of the vexed problems of social causation. In the last fifty years, however, the field has been as much the preserve of psychiatrists, psychologists and geneticists as sociologists and social statisticians. Indeed, studies confined strictly to the sociological aspects of crime have been relatively few, while the results of what might be termed the "psycho-social" approach have been both widely disseminated and fruitful. Burt Young Delinquent for example, is a classic with much that is interesting and relevant to the present day, while the Gluecks have helped to open up new vistas in penology by their development of techniques of social prediction. It seems that Criminology is approaching that stage at which it may at last achieve recognition as a discipline with scientific status by arriving at some synthesis of the theories of other disciplines concerned with the phenomenon of crime. If it cannot have distinctive and unique research techniques, it can at least have methods of study which are both valid and acceptable for sociologist, physiologist, psychiatrist, psychologist and statistician alike.

Certain ideas about crime, which are essentially sociological, often appear to be overlooked in an enthusiasm for psychology. The consideration of crime trends, for example, such as gave

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