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Framing a Definition of Crime

Toward Crime Definition 1.0

In this chapter, we begin the examination of factors that ought to be considered in the attempt to create a criminological definition of crime that is independent of the criminal law. We will refer to this definition as the criminological definition of crime (CDC) and hope to develop an analysis that leads to the creation of an independent definition of crime that has scientific utility. This definition is criminological because it is derived independently from the law and the boundaries of crime the law and the political process law making demarcates.

The first issue we will examine is the distinction between a relative and absolute definition of crime. It is important to address the definition of crime in this way to determine if it is possible to construct an objective, consistent definition of crime across time and place (the absolute definition of crime) or whether the definition of crime must be time and place specific (the relative definition of crime). Absolute definitions of crime would allow for the development of explanations of crimes and tests of those explanations that possess the possibility of being generalized across time and place because the concept of crime in this view is independent of any social factors. Relative definitions of crime, however, have restrictions when it comes to the generalizability of research on the causes of crime. This is because the relative definition of crime includes some limits that relate to the social aspects of the production of crime. By production of crime, we mean the social influences that affect crime such as law and its enforcement and how those factors intersect with behaviors that come to be defined as crime. We begin with the relative definition of crime.

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