Critical criminology is both theory and school of criminology. Critical theory of crime points that crime is defined by the ruling class The ruling class represents a small number of people (the most wealthy money lenders) who indirectly or directly proscribes the crimes. Proscribing crimes is a way how the ruling class or an elite keeps the majority under control. Critical theory of criminology incorporates Marxist conflict theories and other social radical theories.

The critical theory of criminology sets answers on why and how a criminality becomes the product of society. Their answers are focused on various distributions of wealth and power in the society. People who have greater powers define the rules on "what is a crime" and "what is not". People commit crimes, because they disagree with those rules. Powerful elites create the rules to sustain their way of life and system of values. According to this theory, the criminality is the way how powerless people express their disagreement with those values and keep their respect and dignity.

Introduction to criminology problems when defining criminology

Critical school of criminology stresses out unequal distribution of wealth and power in the society. Inequality among people will eventually lead to crime. Marxists criticize the capitalism and "free" market economy, because such system creates impoverishment of many.

Marxist theories are right in terms that inequality exists among people and that opportunities are obscure for non-wealthy. Critics of critical theories argue that critical theories have marked crime as a political category, but have excluded many other factors.

Critical criminology takes the sociological approach to crime Critics of the sociological approach to crime argue that sociological theories are too narrow in understanding crime causation.

Sociological theories of crime causation can be divided into two groups of theories:

  1. sociological theories based on the factors relatively independent of social interactions and

  2. sociological theories based on the factors which are results of social interaction and social dynamics.

Criminological theories and crime

Criminology and methodology

What is a method?

The method is a planned process of testing and research of a phenomenon or the path to achieve a goal on the philosophical, scientific, political or practical area.

Research methods of criminology

What is a scientific method?

Scientific method is a set of various processes which science uses in scientific research to investigate and present results of scientific research in a particular area or scientific discipline. Scientific method is a path of research that shapes and builds the science. Scientific method is also the every manner of scientific research that provides a safe, sorted, systematic and accurate knowledge.

Criminology methods

Most commonly used methods in criminology are: a study of individual cases (case study), a clinical method of studying personalities of delinquents (clinical study), a statistical analysis of crime as a mass phenomenon (statistical analysis), and an experimental study of delinquents (experiment).

Research methods of criminology are:

1. historical method,

2. comparative method,

3. psychological method,

4. statistical method,

5. prognostic method,

6. case study,

7. prophylactic method and

8. an experiment.

Characteristics of scientific methods i.e. methods must be:

1. objective or impartial

2. systematic or sorted

3. precise or exact

4. general and

5. reliable.

Scientific methods features

Historical method is a descriptive method. This method describes a certain research object or phenomenon in its historical dimension or time sequence.

Comparative method compares two or more phenomenons (research objects) with a final goal to find certain connections or dissimilarities between them. Comparing two objects we can find out, does the connection between them really exists as well as what are natures of their similarities or dissimilarities. We should also consider  that many phenomenons may look like to be connected in some way, but  the connection between them doesn't really exist i.e. there is no clear connection between crime and intelligence. Being intelligent certainly helps to the development of professional criminal career, but just alone it isn't sufficient.

Psychological method consists of itself  of various behavior observations, attempts of behavior modifications and attempts to predict future behaviors of delinquents. Psychology in some way is a hocus-pocus science, because it isn't easy to modify or predict human behavior or to know for certain what fully caused it.

Statistical method. Mark Twain once said: "Statistics is only accurate in inaccuracies." Crime can be statistically analyzed using various attributes: conceptual (name of the analyzed phenomenon), temporal (one year, six months, one month) and territorial (town, country, region or globally).

Clinical method is used in psychology. Psychology mostly researches normal behaviors, but specialized field in psychology known as clinical psychology researches abnormal behaviors, while psychiatry researches mental health disorders i.e. dangerous behaviors. Clinical method is formed as an interview. Clinical psychologist asks the questions, and a patient (person) gives the answers. During  the interview, the psychologist takes notes. Whole interview takes about 30 minutes. Psychologists then take those notes and set diagnosis and prognosis about health condition and possible behavioral developments.

Case study is one of the best detail analysis ever introduced into science. However, case studies are detail, but expensive. Some of the best results and scientific contributions in understanding  the juvenile delinquency are achieved trough  a case study. Case study can analyze one case or can analyze 30 or more similar cases by comparing them together. Many valuable results are gained trough case studies.

Criminological methods of research

Case Study Research: Design and Methods (Applied Social Research Methods)

Quantitative methods in criminology are the methods for study of distribution and possible causes of crime. Quantitative methods of research in criminology are:

1. survey research,

2. field research,

3. evaluation research and

4. other quantitative research methods.

Quantitative research methods are used in gathering of reliable and valid data. Data is then used by criminologists in formulation of causal statements about research variables. Quantitative methodological approach is described in a handbook "The Handbook of Quantitative Criminology. Statistics in criminal research is an indicator and starting point for an explanation of crime.

Criminal statistics sources are:

1. police statistics about crimes, criminals and presumptive criminals,

2. state attorney's statistics about accused and convicted persons,

3. the Court statistics about convicted persons and about (private) lawsuits

4. victimization studies,

5. self-report and anonymous report studies.

Criminal statistics is used for the development of:

1. prevention programs,

2. repression programs (crime combating, war on crime)

Criminal statistics can also be used for creation of effective policing, selection of human resources in the police organization, assessment of security and safety in some geographical area and for finding of connections in criminal phenomenology.

Many colleges offer the criminology study. Information's about benefits of criminology degree can be given by a college counselor. Criminology study information's can be obtained trough seminars. Criminology has little to do with forensic sciences, although certain college programs in the area of police sciences have incorporated theoretical criminology and forensic sciences into an interdisciplinary university program.

The universal classification of science recognizes 3 groups of sciences:
1. social,
2. humanistic and
3. natural-technical sciences.

                                                     The classification of sciences on branches

Classification of sciences

Criminology is differently understood by many scientists.Combining different theory standpoints into categories, criminology can be understood as a:

1. synthetic science or
2. group science.

                                                                Meaning of criminology

Criminology uses a wide range of research methods. The choice of research methods in criminological research will entirely depend upon research questions. There are 4 different types of research questions. Research questions are: a) descriptive, b) exploratory, c) explanatory and d) evaluative.

                                                  Types of research questions in criminology

Methods in social sciences are usually divided into two categories:

1. quantitative research methods and

 What to research in criminology?

Objects of research in criminology

Crime can be analyzed from various aspects, and levels of analysis are:

1.1 delinquency as a phenomenon                                   
1.2 types of crimes                                    -------)       number  of  crimes                                                  1.3 individual crime

2.1 criminals
2.2 victims                                           -----------)       number of persons

Criminology disciplines are:

1. Criminal sociology

2. Criminal biology

3. Criminal psychology

4. Criminal psychopathology

5. Criminal politics or anti-delinquent policy

6. Penology

7. Criminal etiology

8. Criminal phenomenology

9. Victimology

Criminology disciplines

Criminal sociology researches criminality and asocial behaviors as phenomenon’s which are results of certain social conditions.

Crime policy is an interdisciplinary science, organization and system of government, other entities and institutions trough planned and joint system of measures and procedures which effect in the prevention and repression of crime or delinquency. In other words, the crime policy is an instance which determines the direction where the whole system of anti-criminal measures should be directed.

Penology (Latin "poena" and Greek "logos") is etymologically defined as a science about a punishment. Penology is a section or part of theoretical criminology that researches effectiveness of criminal sanctions and executions of punishments using knowledge of criminology.

Criminal psychology studies personality of delinquents and victims in order to understand, predict and change their behavior.

Criminal psychopathology studies crimes which are related to mental disorders.

Criminal biology studies biological functions of a man as causes and results of criminal behaviors.

Criminology theories of crime

In etymological terms criminology is a science about crime. The word criminology derives from Latin words "crimen" which means crime and Greek word "logos" which means science or discipline.

In 1879 Topinard defined criminology as a science which researches committed criminal acts.

Mergen defined criminology as an independent, autonomous, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary science that can be divided into:

1. theoretical criminology
2. descriptive criminology, and
3. clinical criminology.


Sociology uses the terms deviance,deviant behavior, asocial behavior, antisocial behavior and many other terms, psychology uses the term abnormal behavior, while criminology uses terms: delinquency, criminal behavior, criminality, violent or sexual offense and many other terminologies specific to criminology. Every science has an own language, and that language are terms. In order to study criminology in a proper manor, students must learn and understand the academic scientific discipline terminologies.
Most common terms and definitions used in criminology are listed as follows:

Definition of delinquency

Delinquency is a violation of the norms of a particular culture. Not every conduct is a crime, but only that behavior which is dangerous for a specific society.

Sociologists Jack E. Bynum and William E. Thompson define juvenile delinquency as a conduct which violates the law only when committed by children.

Scientific discipline of criminal Law defines juvenile delinquency as an act in violation of the criminal code, committed or omitted by person under age of 18.
Definition of criminality

Criminality is a totality of all crimes that occur in a particular region and time period.

Definition of penology

Penology studies the execution of criminal sanctions, uses criminological knowledge about perpetrator and provides feedback about the success of penal treatment.

Definition of penology provided by encyclopedia Britannica: Penology is a research area of criminology, which researches formation, origin and development of penalty, its application and impact on convicts. Research object of penology is execution of criminal sanctions, the status of the offender and post-penal treatment. In short terms, object of research in penology is special prevention. Penology acts "post delictum" or after the criminal act.

Definition of victimology

Victimology is the scientific discipline which studies the crime victims, all other victims, victimization processes, types of victimization's, relationship of a victim with the perpetrator, and the effect of criminal justice system on the victim. It developed itself out of criminology as the specialized scientific discipline. In the last 20 years, victimology has developed own research methodology, defined the research objects. Today it has all attributes to become an independent and autonomous science. Many academics of criminal law and criminology study have contributed to victimology in terms of better understanding of victim behavior, relations of a victim with a perpetrator, effects of secondary victimization through criminal case trial and readiness of a victim to report a crime. On the theoretical level victimology is thought as an academic discipline within criminology or criminal law study in the bachelors or master's college programs and sometimes as an independent academic discipline within PhD studies of criminal justice, sociology, social pedagogy or through interdisciplinary police study programs on some universities. In short terms, victimology by the definition is the study of why certain people become victims of crime. Victimology is also the study of how crime or other harmful events impacts the very same victims. The word victim today has a broad use and it used to signify various categories of victims: cancer victims, accident victims, victims of injustice, crime victims and others.

Theoretical criminology includes the objects and methods of research. Descriptive criminology includes all phenomenological disciplines, while clinical criminology includes therapy, prognosis, diagnosis and profiling.

Kaiser defined criminology as a systematized totality of knowledge that is gathered trough experiences about crimes, criminals, asocial behaviors (predelinquent) and about the control of these behaviors.

M. Singer defined criminology as an empiric science that researches natural and social facts about a delinquency, delinquents, victims, social environment and a crime in general sense.

Other authors define the term of "criminology" descriptively as a science that researches crimes, breaking of law, delinquents etc.

There is no way this could pass anywhere, because there is no law in any country which is the same with those in other countries nor the objects of research in criminology are only antisocial behaviors, but also asocial (predelinquent) behaviors like gambling, prostitution, alcoholism etc. Criminology as a scientific discipline is a transnational, while forbidden behaviors proscribed by penal codes and other laws represent a small portion of research objects in criminology.

Why is that? Those definitions were usually given by legal experts (lawyers, judges, prosecutors) i.e. scientists who finished the Law school and later obtained their PhD. in Criminal Law. They define the criminology from their theoretical point of view, which is to unfortunately to narrow.

Theory is a possible explanation of something. In criminology, theory is an explanation of criminal or deviant acts. The theory can explain crime for a large social, ethnic or subcultural unit (macro theory) or smaller social unit (micro theory).

Theory must:
1. follow logical consistency i.e. must have a sense,
2. have an acceptable reach of explanation i.e. must be applicable on a large number of cases,
3. be precise, detail and concise,
4. and to be valid.

Some authors define criminology as a scientific study of crimes and criminals. This definition of criminology is valid, but misses other research objects. Although criminology researches etiology and phenomenology of crimes, it also researches criminals, victims, social units (micro and macro) as well as asocial behaviors such as alcoholism, gambling, prostitution and crime in general terms as a transnational phenomena.

Criminology is a set of knowledge's regarding delinquency and crime as a social phenomena. Criminological objective is to develop set of principles and knowledge's regarding application of law, crime prevention and repression.

Criminology is described as a scientific discipline which studies crime, response of the society on criminal acts, criminal behavior, criminals, execution of sanctions, crime prevention, crime repression and law enforcement.  Criminology researches variety of sociological, biological and psychological causes of crime and other non-legal aspects of crime.

Criminal law theory defines crime as an act committed or omitted in violation of law. Other definitions describe crime as an unlawful activity.Popular definition of criminology describes criminology as "the scientific study of making of laws, the breaking of laws and reactions to the breaking of laws."

Methods of theoretical criminology