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Cover Criminology

Introduction—Criminology: its origins and research methods  

This chapter discusses the origins of the term ‘criminology’, which emerged at the end of the nineteenth century because a group of theorists laid claim to systematic knowledge as to the nature of criminal behaviour, its causes and solutions. Prior to this, commentaries on crime largely arose out of other enterprises. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the administration of criminal justice in most European countries had been influenced by the views of several writers whose approach, although differing in certain respects, has come to be referred to as ‘classicism’. The basic view as to the organisation of society adopted by the classicists was influenced by the social contract theories of Hobbes and Rousseau. Individuals agree to join together to form a society and there is a consensus within the society for the private ownership of property and the protection of its members from harm.