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Critical criminology and the social sciences
Critical criminology and the social sciences

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2 Introducing critical criminology

As you saw in the previous section, criminology is an intellectual domain or rendezvous subject which acts as a meeting point for numerous academic disciplines across the social sciences, most commonly sociology, psychology and law, but increasingly other disciplines such as neuroscience, geography, politics, biology, anthropology, social work and public health.

At The Open University, students focus on a specific strand of criminology often referred to as ‘critical criminology’. This strand of criminology became increasingly popular in the mid 1960s, as a number of seminal criminologists shifted their attention away from the search for the causes of crime, and towards a more critical consideration of the concepts of crime, social order and constructions of deviance.

This generation of criminologists, influenced by a rapidly changing social world, denounced what they had come to view as the ‘mainstream criminological ideology’ (Taylor et al., 1973). It is here that the story of critical criminology begins.