Short Notes on Crime, Criminal and Criminology



Short Notes on Crime, Criminal and Criminology

Six questions are important in criminology today (Jock Young, Crime and Society, 1981: 249-52), these are:

(1) How is an individual's criminal behaviour explained? At the point of committing crime, is the offender perceived as acting out of free will or is he seen AS compelled by some forces beyond his control?

(2) How is the functioning of social order perceived? Is order in society understood as based on consent of the vast majority or is it largely based on coercion?

(3) How is crime defined? Is crime seen as the violation of the legal code or as behaviour that offends the social code of a particular community?

(4) How is extent and distribution of crime viewed? Is crime viewed as a limited phenomenon committed by a small number of people, or as an extensive phenomenon engaged in by a large proportion of the population?

(5) How are the causes of crime explained? Are the causes of crime located primarily within the individual (i.e., his personality) or is crime seen as the product of the wider society within which the individual lives?

(6) What is the policy regarding criminals? Is the policy of punishing the offender appropriate or is the policy of treatment of the criminal accepted?

Jock Young has framed the following six questions on the basis of dichotomies:

i. Individual's behaviour: free will versus determinism

ii. Functioning of social order: consensus versus coercion

iii. Definition of crime: legal versus social

iv. Extent and distribution of crime: limited versus extensive

v. Causes of crime: individual versus social

vi. Policy towards criminals: punishment versus treatment

Following Jock Young, the following chart (on p. 30) can be presented to point out the dichotomous reactions of seven different paradigms to these six questions.