History, Criminology and the 'Use' of the Past

Lawrence, Paul (2012). History, Criminology and the 'Use' of the Past. Theoretical Criminology, 16(3) p. 313.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362480611433431


This article considers why, despite an apparent congruence of subject matter and methodologies, the disciplines of sociological criminology and criminal justice history are not more closely aligned. It contends that intellectual traffic between the two fields is not usually limited by institutional barriers, nor is it a legacy of the disciplinary antipathy which existed between history and sociology in Britain during the mid-twentieth century. Rather, it is due to the different ‘purposes’ with which sociological criminologists and criminal justice historians imbue their work and to the differing disciplinary perceptions of the relationship between the past, present and future which result from this. These different ‘purposes’ are traced via a consideration of the paths of development of the two disciplines from the 1940s. The article concludes by proposing an arena for future collaboration between criminal justice historians and sociological criminologists.

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