Criminology is defined as an interdisciplinary profession built around the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior including their forms, causes, legal aspects, and control. There are many aspects in the field of criminology. These aspects include the areas of research involved, the criminology schools of thought, theoretical developments and the people involved in creating and developing the theories.
What role do criminologists play in the field of criminology? The term criminologist is used to describe any individual who is employed in the criminal justice field regardless of formal training. (Schmalleger) These individuals study crime, criminals, and criminal behavior. Those responsible for collecting and examining physical evidence of crime are referred to as criminalists. Criminologists perform a variety of activities such as data gathering, data analysis, theory construction, hypothesis testing, social policy creation, public advocacy and public service, analysis of crime patterns and trends, education and training, and threat assessment and risk analysis.
Criminology is categorized into three schools of thought: Classical, Positivist, and Chicago. These three schools fit into three different theoretical developments in criminology. However, there are six categories that fit into the theoretical developments. The first development is the Classical School which consists of classical and neoclassical criminology. The classical school of criminological thought developed as a result of the Enlightenment or Age of Reason, a highly significant social movement in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Enlightenments encouraged people to think for themselves rather obeying orders given by the State or Church. (Williams) Thinkers such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Paine were all part of the Enlightenment. However, two famous Enlightenment theorists responsible for shaping crime and control and criminological thinking were Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. Cesare Beccaria believed that punishment should be deterrence rather than retribution, and punishment should be imposed to prevent offenders from committing additional crimes. Acts of revenge are not as important as crime prevention. According to Beccaria, punishment should be swift and certain and should only be severe enough to outweigh personal benefits. Punishments should fit the crimes.
Jeremy Bentham was a utilitarian idealist. His approach to classical criminology was termed hedonistic calculus or utilitarianism. This term argued that human behavior is led by the desire for individuals to avoid unpleasantness and choose a life that takes full advantage of pleasure. According to Bentham’s approach to classical criminology, individuals were expected to weigh the consequences of their behavior before acting in order to maximize pleasure and minimize pain based on intensity, duration, certainty, and...