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6. How does criminology ‘know’ about crime?  

Subjectivity, supposition, and study

This chapter examines the means by which different forms of knowledge are created in criminology and what it means to know about crime, with particular emphasis on the empirical research methods used by criminologists. It also discusses the complex interplay between subjectivity, supposition, and study in producing knowledge in criminology; the benefits and limitations of different research study methods on the creation of criminological knowledge; criminological theory as knowledge; and various research methods in criminology such as experiments, surveys, bservations, and secondary analysis. Finally, it considers how subjectivity, supposition, and study interact with, and impact on, understanding and knowledge production in criminology.


This chapter guides the criminology student on how to undertake research and embark on knowledge production, with particular emphasis on the work required for doing a dissertation. It provides an array of practical and creative tips for developing the student's role as a knowledge producer and becoming a person who contributes to what is — and what is not — known about crime and the criminal justice system. The objective is to enhance the student's undergraduate studies by encouraging him/her to think and act as an independent researcher. The chapter explains why research is important and highlights the breadth of opportunities offered by being an undergraduate researcher in criminology. It considers effective ways of choosing one's research topic, the core features of a dissertation or research project, ethical standards for researchers in criminology, and unconventional methods of dissemination for research.


Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra

In this chapter, we review developments in the field of criminology since the first editors began this project, pay tribute to their efforts, and outline our vision for the new edition. We argue that British criminology has developed a unique character of its own, shaped by the backgrounds and proclivities of key individual scholars, but also by the history, culture, and organization of British universities and society. This volume constitutes a living archive—a marked step in the life narrative of our field and a celebration of its growing strengths and popularity as a subject.