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Career of a Confusion - Radical Criminology in Britain (From Radical Criminology, P 19-34, 1980, by James A Inciardi - See NCJ-70047)

NCJ Number
G Mungham
Date Published
16 pages
That there is a clear rupture between the so-called old criminology and emergent new criminologies is misleading; radical criminologists have failed to deal adequately with correction, sanction, and punishment.
Newer criminologists' implications that all preceding British criminology was blind to and innocent of anything that smacked of structure, power, and class relations and that it could never go beyond correctionalism ignore the 1950's pioneering work that saw delinquency as in part the outcome of a confrontation between working-class values and the structure of middle-class authority. Furthermore, even the most orthodox criminological work and prescriptions opened up possibilities for fresh thinking about causal and correctional questions. The mid-1960's liberal sociology of deviance which leaned upon a labeling or interactionist approach called for decriminalization and nonintervention, but failed to solve the problem of correctionalism and came dangerously close to preaching its own kind of amorality. Yet, together with traditional criminology, this deviancy theory became a firm part of British criminological work, allowing for policies that can focus on reordering and reshaping moral contours and sanctions. The new, radical or critical criminology of the 1970's held to the belief that the abolition of crime is possible under certain social arrangements, called for anticorrectionalism, and glorified the idea of 'human diversity.' Such materialist criminology was not concerned with criminal behavior in the narrow sense, but with the central institutional arrangements of society. Yet this approach, along with all the newer approaches have almost nothing of policy or prescriptive value to contribute toward the more immediate and urgent debate about the nature of British criminal justice policy and about policy alternatives which do not compromise the overall design for fundamental social change. Nevertheless, the failure of radical criminology to produce any convincing or persuasive solutions for the country's problems is accomplished by the failure of any criminological theory to assist in the task of social reform and social reconstruction. In related documents, see NCJ 70049-62. Twenty-six references are provided.


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