31 Pages

Sociological criminology

The first generation of sociologists were philosophers, systematizers, introspectionists, but after the First World War American sociology entered a new phase and became more empirically oriented. American sociology became increasingly different from European social sciences generally and sociology in particular, which were primarily concerned with a highly macroscopic interpretation of society's development. <84> In the United States the broad outline of society and its major values were more likely to be taken for granted, with an emphasis given to particular 'social problems'. There was concern with how actual situations

deviated from values and here problems were associated with slums, rural life, immigration, and Negro-white relations. This kind of interest, says Parsons,<85> helps to explain why American sociology has been far less concerned with the borderline of philosophy than has European sociology. Like general sociology, criminology has stemmed from its applied interests. This concentration on less macroscopic problems had a special advantage, however, for it encouraged the development of a variety of techniques for empirical research, as, for example, the use of personal documents, interviewing, questionnaires, and participant observations. These technical developments coincided with a similar growth in statistical methods. In general, American interest in empirical matters and this technical emphasis became much more pronounced than in Europe and helped significantly to speed the development of criminology, carried along by sociology, as an empirical science.