Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The purpose of criminology is to unravel the mystery of crime. Over the course of 200 years of scientific development, the discipline of criminology has not yet produced any single agreed upon paradigm, which subsumes, defines, and interrelates the theories and methods representing the broadest unit of consensus within the discipline. Because ideas and theories of crime develop within complex historical sociocultural contexts, the field of criminology represents multiple disciplines—accepting contributions from other fields such as biology, psychology, and sociology—as well as multiple paradigms—accepting various fundamental approaches to the basic questions criminologists ask. What is crime? What is the basic unit of analysis? What are the influences or sources of change? In the United States, the sociological tradition has long held the dominant perspectives in criminology. Most university criminology courses are hosted by sociology departments, and a large number of criminologists, particularly those interested in theory and research, are trained ...