Historical perspectives on crime

Emsley, Clive (2007). Historical perspectives on crime. In: Maguire, Mike; Morgan, Rod and Reiner, Robert eds. The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. 4th edition. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 122–138.

URL: http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199205448


This chapter highlights some of the issues raised by historical research into crime with respect to long-term trends, methodology, and various kinds of data. In so doing it seeks also to underline the contribution that a historical perspective can provide for an understanding of contemporary crime and criminal justice. The key topics explored are the theoretical perspectives used for the history of crime, the concept of a broad, long-term shift in the pattern of crime from violence to theft; the value of statistics; the role of human agency. Most of the discussion centres on the English experience; comparisons with other countries are made where this appears either central or simply helpful.

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