Criminology – Concept, origin, schools and criminology

We explain what criminology is, its origin, schools and modern criminology. Also, differences with criminology.

Criminology studies crime from a theoretical and philosophical point of view.

What is criminology?

Criminology it is an interdisciplinary science, close to sociology, psychology, anthropology, criminal law and other areas of human knowledge, whose object of study is crime, from a theoretical or philosophical point of view.

I mean, this science focuses on the reasons why the crime occurs: in the motivations that lead the criminal to commit the crime and also the relationships that this establishes with society. All with the aim of understanding crime and being able to help avoid or prevent it.

Although the roots of this science date back to the European Enlightenment, the philosophical interest in crime dates back to the earliest times of mankind. Thinkers of the stature of Socrates (470-399 BC), Plato (c. 427-347 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC) devoted many of their pages to this, seeking their motivations in the mental and physical weaknesses of individuals.

It was these authors who sowed the logic that was used in medieval Europe by doctors to investigate crimes, and that Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) summarized in his own way in the thirteenth century, in his Scholasticism.

Thus, before the emergence of modern criminology in the 20th century, two different schools of thought approached crime as an object of study:

  • The classical school, born as a result of the postulates of the French Enlightenment, according to which all human beings exercise free will and are equal, rational beings, and that they are individually subject to responsibility, since everyone can commit a criminal act at some point . The study of crime, thus, does not focus on who commits it, but on the criminal act itself, understood as a breach of the social pact whose punishment must be proportional to the social damage it has caused.
  • The positivist school, also called biological-positivist, is the daughter of the so-called biological determinism, which seeks in biology the reasons for human behavior. For her, the criminal is born with the criminal impulse in his guts, and therefore focuses on the study of criminals, rather than on considerations about the crime itself, which is nothing more than a manifestation of the danger of the personality of the criminal. Thus, between a criminal and a law-abiding citizen, there would be fundamental differences, at the biological-anthropological level, which could perfectly be studied with the scientific method.

Modern criminology emerged in the 20th century, as heir to both schools. He soon took advantage of the advances in sociology and psychology of the time, opening up to new approaches and a paradigm shift that focused his attention not only on the offender and the crime itself, but also on the social environment, in the criminalization processes and even in the victim.

Thus, new approaches emerged, such as that of the Chicago School (social ecology), individualistic theories (such as the Theory of Rational Choice), or critical criminology, which uses Marxism, feminism, economics for its perspective politics and critical theory. Thanks to the latter, abolitionism arose, a radical look that proposes the replacement of the entire existing penal system.

Criminology and criminology

criminal criminology
Criminalistics is concerned with investigating who, how and where committed the crime.

These two terms should not be confused, since they name different disciplines in their approach to crime, although the latter is the object of study of both.

But while criminology focuses on understanding crime philosophically, looking for why it occurs, instead criminology focuses on the criminal investigation process, that is, in who committed it, how, where and in what way. To do this, he uses methods, knowledge and techniques that extract useful information to decipher the enigma.

Put more succinctly, a criminologist studies crime philosophically, while a criminalist helps to find the culprit.

Criminology career

The career of criminology is very common in the Hispanic world, and constitutes a fourth-level university study. In 1978 the first degree in the subject, at the current Faculty of Law and Criminology of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León, in Monterrey, Mexico. For its part, the first criminology school in South America took place at the Universidad de los Andes, in Venezuela, in 1992.

As a body of studies, criminology focuses on the study of the offender, his motivations, and all conduct considered “antisocial” or “deviant” from the norm. Its graduates help to improve the social, moral and cultural reality of their societies, understanding crime from a social-scientific point of view, which understands it as a complex phenomenon, endowed with multiple roots.