Since its inception, the discipline of criminology has served as an extension of state power. While this is obviously true for applied criminological research undertaken directly by or in service to government agencies, it is equally true for most basic research in criminology done in university settings or private research firms. Although, in liberal democratic societies, these organizations are presumably part of civil society, the line that separates civil society from the state is often much thinner than it is presumed to be. To the extent that criminological inquiry defines its primary subject matter as the causes and control of behaviors that states have selected for criminalization, it becomes part of the ‘ideological apparatuses’ whose functions are to promote and preserve the legitimacy of state power (Althusser 1971). Or, as Foucault (1977) would have it, criminological knowledge, like all state-approved knowledge, is an artifact of power.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Social Sciences