Critical Criminology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 245–265 | Cite as

Representing Theory and Theorising in Criminal Justice Studies: Practising Theory Considered



The author considers the role and place of theory in criminal justice studies. The argument is that the operation and interrogation of fundamental categories is integral to social scientific enquiry and if criminal justice studies is to resist a technocratic “protective service” orientation it must promote theorising and thinking conceptually via the texts which represent the discipline to undergraduates. Although theory is situated at the core of social science curricula, there is little or no agreement on its role or place in research and pedagogy. The dominant understanding of theory within criminal justice studies (including its sociological and criminological incarnation) is that it is something to be referred to. What is seldom emphasised in theory or methods texts is the practice of theorising. Texts that are designed to be the student’s first contact with the field of criminal justice studies, and which reflect broader attitudes toward social enquiry, seldom consider the methodological and pedagogical issues related to the production and role of analytic concepts and do not present social science as an imaginative or reflexive practice. Drawing on critical realist metatheory, this paper advances a distinction between social and sociological problems and social science and protective service toward illustrating that a social science approach to the study of criminal justice demands the operation and interrogation of analytic categories and explicit consideration of issues of epistemology and ontology. Works which seek to avoid this serve only to foster a passive rather than active engagement with their subject matter.


Social Science Analytic Concept Social Scientific Enquiry Science Curriculum Active Engagement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. (2003). Peterson’s Guide to Colleges and Universities. Thomson Corporation,
  2. Benton, T. 1977Philosophical Foundations of the Three SociologiesRoutledge and Kegan PaulLondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Bottomore, T. 1972Sociology: A guide to Problems and LiteratureAllen and UnwinBostonGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, P. 1988Viva la crise! For heterodoxy in social scienceTheory and Society17773787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. 1992The practice of reflexive sociologyBourdieu, P.Wacquant, L. eds. An Invitation to Reflexive SociologyUniversity of Chicago PressChicago218260Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P., Chamboredon, J.-C., Passeron, J.-C. 1968/1991The Craft of Sociology: Epistemological PreliminariesWalter de GruyterNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Brodeur, J.-P. 1999Disenchanted criminologyCanadian Journal of Criminology41131136Google Scholar
  8. Christie, N. 2000Crime Control as Industry: Towards Gulags Western Style3RoutledgeNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Collier, A. 1994 Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar’s PhilosophyVersoNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Craib, I. 1984Modern Social Theory: From Parsons to HabermasHarvester WheatsheafNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Cunningham, D., Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. (2001, 27 November). Introduction to the legislature of the act to establish the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, 2001. Retrieved 27 December, 2003, from
  12. Curtis, B., Weir, L. 2002The succession question in English Canadian sociologySociety/Societe26313Google Scholar
  13. DeFlem, M. (2002). Teaching criminal justice in liberal arts education: A sociologists confessions. ACJS Today XXII (2) .Google Scholar
  14. Drakich, J., Grant, K., Stewert, P. 2002The academy in the 21st centuryCanadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology39249260Google Scholar
  15. Ericson, R., Carriere, K. 1994 The fragmentation of criminologyNelken, D. eds. The Futures of CriminologySageThousand Oaks, CA88109Google Scholar
  16. Farrell, B., Koch, L. 1995Criminal justice sociology, and academiaThe American Sociologist265261Google Scholar
  17. Foucault, M. 1976/1980Two lecturesGordon, C. eds. Power/knowledgePantheonNew York78108Google Scholar
  18. Frauley, J. 2004Race justice, and the production of knowledge: A critical realist considerationCanadian Journal of Law and Society19177197Google Scholar
  19. Garland, D. 1990Punishment and Modern Society: A Study in Social TheoryClarendon PressOxfordGoogle Scholar
  20. Garland, D. 2001The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary SocietyUniversity of Chicago PressChicagoGoogle Scholar
  21. Garland, D., Sparks, R. 2000Criminology, social theory, and the challenge of our timesGarland, D.Sparks, R. eds. Criminology and Social TheoryOxford UPToronto122Google Scholar
  22. Goff, C. 2004Criminal Justice in Canada3NelsonTorontoGoogle Scholar
  23. Griffiths, C.T., Cunningham, A.H. 2003Canadian Criminal Justice: A Primer2NelsonTorontoGoogle Scholar
  24. Griffiths, C.T., Verdun-Jones, S. 1994Canadian Criminal Justice2Harcourt BraceTorontoGoogle Scholar
  25. Hackler, J. (1994). How the criminal justice system increases crime in Canada. In Crime and Canadian Public Policy. Toronto: Prentice-Hall, pp. 341–354Google Scholar
  26. Halsted, J.B. 1985Criminal justice education and the humanities: A new era?Educational and Psychological Research5149164Google Scholar
  27. Hartnagel, T.F. eds. 1998Canadian Crime Control PolicyHarcourt BraceTorontoGoogle Scholar
  28. Hemmens, C. (2002). Teaching criminal justice: reply to a sociologist.ACJS Today November/DecemberGoogle Scholar
  29. Hester, S., Eglin, P. 1992A Sociology of CrimeRoutledgeNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Hinch, R. 1988Teaching introductory sociology: Alternatives to the encyclopedic textSociety/Societe1227Google Scholar
  31. Kurasawa, F. 2002Which barbarians at the gates? From the culture wars to market orthodoxy in the North American academyCanadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology39323347Google Scholar
  32. Layder, D. 1993New Strategies in Social Research: An Introduction and GuidePolity PressCambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  33. Loader, I. 1999Consumer culture and the commodification of policing and securitySociology33373392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lopez, J. 2003 Society and its Metaphors: Language, , Social Theory and Social StructureContinuumNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Manicas, P.T. 1987A History and Philosophy of the Social SciencesBlackwellNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. McMullan, J., Ratner, R.S. 1982Radical versus technocratic analyses in the study of crime: Critique of Criminal Justice in CanadaCanadian Journal of Criminology24483494Google Scholar
  37. Menzies, R., Chunn, D.E. 1999Discipline in dissent: Canadian academic criminology at the milleniumCanadian Journal of Criminology41285297Google Scholar
  38. Ministry of Education and Training, Ontario. (1996). Future goals for Ontario colleges and universities, John C. Snobelen, Minister. Queen’s Printer for Ontario, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  39. Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Ontario. (2001, 27 November). News release: Students and Durham region benefit from new university. Retrieved 27 December 2003, from htmlGoogle Scholar
  40. Murphy, C. 1998Policing postmodern CanadaCanadian Journal of Law and Society13125Google Scholar
  41. Murphy, C., Stenning, P. 1999Introduction: Criminology research and criminal justice policy in CanadaCanadian Journal of Criminology41127130Google Scholar
  42. Neugebauer, R. eds. 2000Criminal Injustice: Racism in the Criminal Justice SystemCanadian Scholar’s PressTorontoGoogle Scholar
  43. Ollman, B. 1976Alienation: Marx’s Conception of Man in Capitalist SocietyCambridge UPNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. O’Malley, P., Hunt, A. 2003Does sociology need to be disciplined? A response to Weir and CurtisSociety/Societe27713Google Scholar
  45. Pearce, F. 1989The Radical DurkheimUnwin HymenWinchester, MAFirstGoogle Scholar
  46. Pearce, F., Snider, L. 1995Regulating capitalismPearce, F.Snider, L. eds. Corporate Crime: Contemporary DebatesUniversity of Toronto PressToronto1948Google Scholar
  47. Potter, G. 2001 Truth in fiction, science and criticismLopez, J.Potter, G. eds. After Postmodernism: An Introduction to Critical RealismAthlone PressNew York183196Google Scholar
  48. Ramcharan, S., Lint, W., Fleming, T. 2001The Canadian Criminal Justice SystemPrentice-HallTorontoGoogle Scholar
  49. Ratner, R.S. 1985 Inside the liberal boot: The criminological enterprise in CanadaFleming, T. eds. The New Criminologies in Canada: Crime, State, and ControlOxford University PressToronto1326Google Scholar
  50. Ratner, R.S. 1987Rethinking the sociology of crime and justiceRatner, R.S.McMullan, J. eds. State Control: Criminal Justice Politics in CanadaUBC PressVancouver320Google Scholar
  51. Rhoades, G., Slaughter, S. 1997Academic capitalism, managed professionals, and supply-side higher educationSocial Text15938Google Scholar
  52. Roberts, J.V.Grossman, M.G. eds. 2004Criminal Justice in Canada: A ReaderNelsonTorontoGoogle Scholar
  53. Sayer, A. 1992 Method in Social Science: A Realist ApproachRoutledgeNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. Schmalleger, F., MacAlister, D., McKenna, P. 2004Criminal Justice Today2Prentice-HallTorontoGoogle Scholar
  55. Sheldon, R. (2001). A look ahead in the new millennium: The crime-control industry. In Controlling the Dangerous Classes: A Critical Introduction to the History of Criminal Justice. Toronto: Allyn and Bacon, pp. 267–291Google Scholar
  56. Snider, L. 1998Understanding the second great confinementQueen’s Quarterly1052946Google Scholar
  57. Stenning, P. 1999Implications of public service reform for criminal justice research and policy in CanadaCanadian Journal of Criminology41179190Google Scholar
  58. Taylor, I. 1999Crime in Context: A Critical Criminology of Market SocietiesWestview PressBoulderGoogle Scholar
  59. Tombs, S., Whyte, D. 2002Unmasking the crimes of the powerfulCritical Criminology11217236Google Scholar
  60. Tombs, S., Whyte, D. 2003 Scrutinizing the powerful: Crime, contemporary political economy, and critical social researchTombs, S.Whyte, D. eds. Unmasking the Crimes of the Powerful: Scrutinizing States and CorporationsPeter LangNew York345Google Scholar
  61. Walters, R. 2003New modes of governance and the commodification of criminological knowledgeSocial & Legal Studies12526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Walters, R., Presdee, M. 1999 Governing criminological knowledge – ‘state,’ power and the politics of criminological researchCorsianos, M.Train, K. eds. Interrogating Social Justice: Politics, Culture and IdentityCanadian Scholar’s PressToronto5170Google Scholar
  63. Weber, M. 1919/1946 Science as a vocationGerth, H.H.Mills, C. Wright eds. From Max WeberOxford UPNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  64. White, R. 2001Criminology for sale: institutional change and the intellectual fieldCurrent Issues in Criminal Justice13123142Google Scholar
  65. Winterdyk, J.King, D. eds. 1999Diversity and Justice in CanadaCanadian Scholar’s PressTorontoGoogle Scholar
  66. Woodiwiss, A. 1990Social Theory after Post-modernism: Rethinking Production Law, and ClassPluto PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  67. Woodiwiss, A. 2001The Visual in Social TheoryAthlone Press/ContinuumNew YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.York University Canada

Personalised recommendations