study of the causes and manifestations of crime

Criminology (from Latin crīmen, "accusation"; and Greek -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of the nature, extent, causes, and control of criminal behavior in both the individual and in society. Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in the behavioral sciences, drawing especially upon the research of sociologists (particularly in the sociology of deviance), psychologists and psychiatrists, social anthropologists as well as on writings in law.

Cover, May 24, 1908.


  • Characteristically, major social movements are spawned in obscurity at the periphery of public awareness, seem to burst suddenly and dramatically into public view, and eventually fade into the landscape not because they have diminished but because they have become a permanent part of our perceptions and experience.
    • Freda Adler (1975) Sisters in Crime: The Rise of the New Female Criminal. p. 5.
  • Wherever people prefer to call upon "offenses against moral sentience", upon "moral terms" rather than adhere to one's rationally derived scientific criminological approach [dividing irrational, ethnocentric "moral offenses" from actual crimes], one is fully justified in speaking of prejudice's total victory over reason.
  • In Victorian criminology there was an enthusiasm for spotting criminal tendencies in a person’s features.
  • One semester we took Criminology, for God's sake! Criminology! Who the fuck were we studying to be: Batman?
  • "Lawsuit mania"… a continual craving to go to law against others, while considering themselves the injured party.
  • Unfortunately, goodness and honor are rather the exception than the rule among exceptional men, not to speak of geniuses.
    • Cesare Lombroso (1909) Die Welt, cited in: A Treasury of Jewish Quotations (1985) by Joseph L. Baron.
  • Existing criminology is insufficient to isolate barbarism. It is insufficient because the idea of "crime" in existing criminology is artificial, for what is called crime is really an infringement of "existing laws", whereas "laws" are very often a manifestation of barbarism and violence. Such are the prohibiting laws of different kinds which abound in modern life. The number of these laws is constantly growing in all countries and, owing to this, what is called crime is very often not a crime at all, for it contains no element of violence or harm. On the other hand, unquestionable crimes escape the field of vision of criminology, either because they have not recognized the form of crime or because they surpass a certain scale. In existing criminology there are concepts: a criminal man, a criminal profession, a criminal society, a criminal sect, and a criminal tribe, but there is no concept of a criminal state, or a criminal government, or criminal legislation. Consequently what is often regarded as "political" activity is in fact a criminal activity.
  • No matter how honest scientists think they are, they are still influenced by various unconscious assumptions that prevent them from attaining true objectivity. Expressed in a sentence, Fort's principle goes something like this: People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels.

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