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Controlling Crime: The Classical Perspective in Criminology

NCJ Number
B Roshier
Date Published
154 pages
This analysis of the foundations, use, and potential of classical ideas in criminology and views about crime control focuses on the development and presentation of a post-classical perspective, which places crime and its control into a social, political, and economic context.
The discussion notes that the classical conception of human action focuses on the individual's freedom, rationality, and choice. In criminology, it led to an emphasis on the use of deterrence through punishment to achieve crime control. However, in the late 1960's and early 1970's, radical criminology drew on classical approaches in a different way, viewing criminals and deviants as rationally responding to oppressive forces in society. Although the radical impulse that led to that resurrection of classicism has dissipated, crime control through community crime prevention is still a concern and classical ideas still have relevance. A postclassical perspective is proposed that sees the problem of crime as a problem of conformity and that involves a wide view of both the sources of crime control and the contexts within which they operate. The discussion concludes that such an approach can help resolve some of the contradictions of criminological research into crime and its control. Index and 204 references. (Publisher summary modified)