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Crime and Crime Statistics

  • David Taylor
Chapter
Part of the Social History in Perspective book series (SHP)

Abstract

In a formal sense, the law derives from a variety of sources including custom, court precedents, royal prerogative and legislation. Acts of Parliament, and judicial interpretations of those acts, along with the common law are the major formative influences. However, such an approach leaves much unanswered about the evolution of the criminal law and the relationship between the law and society. It is tempting to argue that the law is grounded in an absolute morality that transcends time and place. There are a number of acts, notably murder but also including certain forms of theft, which have been condemned throughout time and across widely differing societies. This suggests that certain actions are seen to be intrinsically wrong and, as such, are universally criminalized. Thus Durkheim, in The Division of Labour in Society, argued that ‘the totality of beliefs and sentiment common to average citizens of the same society forms a determinate system… one may call it the collective or common conscience’. He continued that ‘an act is criminal when it offends strong and defined states of the collective conscience’.1

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    E. Durkheim, The Division of Labour in Society cited in P. Harris, An Introduction to Law, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989, p. 242. D. Garland, Punishment and Modern Society: a study in social theory, Oxford University Press, 1994, chaps 2 & 3.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© David Taylor 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HuddersfieldUK

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