Criminology in Context.

Throughout the history of time, the concept of criminology as a discipline has continued to generate mixed reactions as to whether it ought to be classified as such. To some, this concept is indeed a discipline in its own merit. Yet still, others are of the opinion that it is not a discipline but rather an aspect of a conglomeration of other related disciplines. However, from as early as the mid twentieth century, the concept of criminology has been receiving remarkable attention from a cross-section of quarters. According to Walklate, criminology was not to be a professional discipline in the United Kingdom until in 1935. This was followed by its gradual and precarious development throughout the country.
In particular, this has been in terms of creating a clear-cut distinction between criminology and other subjects in terms of its discourses aimed at presenting it as a distinctive discipline. This has in most cases been brought to the fore through its presentation in its own journals, professorships, professional associations as well as creation of institutions. Perhaps it is imperative to ask whether criminology is a discipline in the first place. Currently, criminology has been construed to be an independent discipline by approximately 40 universities in the United Kingdom. To add to that there is a fully fledged British Association of Criminology which has been specifically established to deal with a range of issues in relation to criminology. One of the functions of this association is that it acts as a standard a guide for the code of ethics for criminologists on issues such as research. These developments point towards the idea that criminology has finally been accepted to be a discipline in its merit.  
Of importance to note is the fact that despite this debate, there is the general consensus that criminology is united by a single element crime. What then constitutes this concept of discipline According To Raymond, an  academic discipline, also known as a given field of study, refers to  a branch of knowledge that is taught as well as researched at the university or college level. One characteristic feature of any discipline is that it is usually defined which in turn leads to its recognition by the various academic journals within which research information is published, alongside their learned societies and the respective academic faculties or departments to which the said disciplines belong. According to Walklate, criminology is viewed to be an independent discipline since it is concerned with the subject of crime despite the fact that it is not defined by a specific unit from the social sphere. Others on the other hand hold the view that criminology does not merit being a discipline based on a range of reasons.
One such reason is that it is multidisciplinary in the sense that it is usually a meeting place for persons or professionals from different fields and who are only united by the idea of crime. For instance, some of these professionals might be coming from the psychological and sociological fraternities united by a common interest in crime. However, it should be noted that though this might be the case, they usually have different dimensions on what really constitutes a criminologist. Also, they argue that criminology is multidiscipline since it is not dominated by a given discipline. In addition, criminology might not be looked at as being an independent discipline owing to the fact that it has been marred by introduction of a number of disciplines throughout its history. The other reason which has been against the consideration of criminology as a discipline is that it tends to be influenced and draws upon other fields such as  psychology, legal theory, sociology and history among other subjects. Finally, it is believed to be an area which facilitates for the meeting of various scholars from different professional backgrounds.
Criminology on the other hand has been defined as the scientific study of nature, causes, extent and control of any criminal behaviour within the respective society and the concerned individual. Hence, this essay shall seek to explore the issue as to whether criminology is a discipline or not. By so doing, the essay shall delve into the debate as to whether it is an inter-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary concept.
Section One
The concept of a study area being multidisciplinary refers to the integration of various fields or disciplinary approaches in order to have an in-depth conceptualization of the main field being studied. In this regard, criminology could be seen to be multidisciplinary since it involves the incorporation of several disciplinary approaches for example, psychology, politics, sociology, law among others according to Sellin. This can be attributed to the fact that criminologists can not exist as experts in all these areas although these approaches all converge in crime due to the complex inter-connectivity between them. The existence of this intricate connection therefore necessitates the integration of all the other disciplines to provide and to allow for the proper conceptualization of crime in relation to the behaviour of a person and variables within the wider society. This is evidenced by the collaboration between various professionals and criminology in terms of sharing of knowledge, teaching and learning as well as research. 
It should be noted that the concept of a discipline is quite different from the cross-disciplinary working although they may appear to be similar. Faced with a number of cross-cutting challenges, there has been an overwhelming interest in the need for trans-disciplinary cooperation among different professional fields. For instance, the Higher Education Academy has established a specific group which is charged with the responsibility of promoting interdisciplinary teaching and learning. At the same time, there exists a difference between the concept of inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary just as is the cases with the multi-disciplinary concept. In the overall, the concept of trans-disciplinary is focused on the generation of new theories, practices and models all of which contribute to increased richness in terms of perspectives and opportunities for both learning and development of persons involved. Hence, this normally leads to the development of new ideas or concepts within the scientific community. The primary emphasis is placed on collaboration through borrowing of concepts from and within the scientific fields in comparison to the other two concepts.

Section Two
Inter-disciplinary concept entails the incorporation of sub-levels of study areas into the mainstream discipline. On this note, criminology is also inter-disciplinary since it is the rendezvous of other related disciplines which attempt to have an in-depth insight of crime. Hence, these sub-levels focus on understanding crime in relation to the individual and their society as argued by Sharon White. As was stated above, criminology has tended to be influenced by sociology in a number of ways. This can be attributed to the fact that sociology is devoted to exploring the concept of human behaviour which is known to play to a significant role in crime. This has therefore seen criminology having to focus on the aspect of human behaviour as one way of understanding the whole idea of crime. A closer look into the history of sociology reveals that it was first taught in the present day United Kingdom during the beginning of the 20th century although its spread took place much later  having been influenced by Americas Sociology. When criminology is considered to be inter-disciplinary, it then means that it seeks to understand crime based on the concepts and theories from other professional fields. In this respect, it uses sociological principles to categorise human behaviours as either unacceptable or not. According to Sharon White, the idea of deviance and conformity are founded on sociological principles. At the same time, it is the study of these attributes which eventually helps in the development of theories and concepts in sociology before being used within criminology. This is applicable in a number of subjects or disciplines which are closely linked to the aspect of human behaviour such as psychology.


Post a Comment