chapter  II
12 Pages


The term criminology has been defined by almost every author who has written a text in the field. The varied content of criminology, as conceived from the beginning by writers like Lombroso, Ferri, Garofalo, Aschaffenburg, and other pioneers, <1> has permitted an extensive and confused use of this term for the many subdivisions of the subject. The multiform status of the teaching of criminology has not facilitated an academic definition of the field.· Textbooks generally refer to a mixture of data on science, law, public administration, and morality; and the commonplace dichotomy into 'criminology' and 'penology' has been with us at least since the days of Parmelee. <2> Sutherland's definition has been standard for many years: 'Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws .... The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general and verified principles and of other types of knowledge regarding this process oflaw, crime, and treatment.'<3> Webster's unabridged edition of the American dictionary appears to have incorporated part of Sutherland's perspective, for we read that criminology (L. crimen, criminis; crime+ -logy) is 'the scientific study of crime as a social phenomenon, of criminals, and of penal treatment'. <4>

This conceptualization of criminology is neither narrow nor confining. A scientific approach to understanding the etiology of crime may include the statistical, historical, clinical, or case-study tools of analysis. Moreover, there is nothing inherently quantitative in scientific methodology, albeit the most convincing evidence, data, and presentation in general sociological replications of propositions appear to be quantitative. <6> Probably the most fruitful source of analysis of empirical uniformity, regularity, and systems of patterned relationships can be found in the statistical studies of causation and prediction. However, interpretive analyses that may occasionally go beyond the limits of empirically correlated and organized data (but not beyond empirical reality) can be useful and enlightening. If description of the phenomena of crime is performed within a meaningful theoretical system, the methods and the goals of science are not necessarily discarded in the process but may be retained with all the vigor commonly attributed to sophisticated statistical manipulation.