The Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice

Lawrence, Paul (2016). The Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice. In: Knepper, Paul and Johansen, Anja eds. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice. The Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 17–37.



This essay analyzes the historiography of the field of criminal justice history. It traces the development of four broad approaches to the historical study of crime, policing, justice, and punishment from the start of the twentieth century to the present day. The four approaches identified are characterized as positivist/empirical, theoretical, social, and cultural. Concentrating primarily (but not exclusively) on works focused on the United Kingdom, the essay analyzes the development of each approach in turn, considering its antecedents and impact. The final section of the essay highlights emerging areas of research (including digital humanities projects and historical criminology) and proposes avenues for future investigation.

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