Criminology, Victimology & Criminological Theories

Introduction to criminology and victimology

Victimisation is the process through which a person is victimised and Victimology is concerned to study of victims who are exposed to any sort of crime and resulting physiological effect of the crime. Criminology is a field of study concerning criminal behaviour and crime including causes, manifestations, control and legal aspects. It tries to explore the circumstances leading to criminal behaviour and the social factor which aids to the existence of crime (Hopkins, 2016). Victimisation is nothing but the study of victimology and these two processes help in the study of criminology through several ways.


Victimisation may be defined as the unfair treatment to someone and made to feel him in harsh condition (Sampson & Laub, 2016). As per Myrstol & Chermak, Victimisation is unpredictable, unexpected, and mostly unpreventable. It is unbearable and demoralising. It has very long term effect and is very difficult to defeat often. Victims go through emotionally, physically, psychologically and financially insecure from their victimisation (Myrstol & Chermak, 2008).


Victimology is the combined study of the victim and their victimisation pattern. It is a different area from the study of the social science. Victim study i.e. victimology closely related to the two parts of criminology and criminal justice. It contributes to the knowledge base on victimisation and crime (Cohn, et al., 2016).

Comparative Study of Victimology and Victimization in their contribution to the study of Criminology

The study of KOEHLER on criminals and crime has explored that the analysis of criminology should be advanced on the scientific way after careful analysis of various aspects related to it and it should also suggest required measures to restrain criminality (KOEHLER, 2015). Knowledge of the victimology would be helpful in getting the criminal activities occurring in the society and assessment about the criminal behaviour can be done.

When the situation and experience of victims are known, several facts are unearthed about the study of criminology. As criminology is related to a particular act of human behaviour which is forbidden in society, it also discovers the reasons for such behaviour and suggests remedies to reduce the crime (Hopkins, 2016). Criminal policy and criminology are mutual support and interdependent to each other and victimisation help in the study of criminality in total.

Victimology will provide the details of situation and experience of victims and those details will be helpful in finding the reason of occurrence of such crime (Siegel, 2016). Many rape cases have revealed that crime took place due to abnormal behaviour of victim or appearance which instigates the rapist to commit the crime. Victimology can discover and add many new facets to the study of criminology (Myrstol & Chermak, 2008).

Criminology theory based on victims of crime

Criminology theory is a scientific study of social incident and penal instruction of crime. It is the criminal branch of science and deals with the causation, analysis and prevention of crime moreover it is a study of human behaviour which is prohibited by society (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997). Therefore, criminology is the social and legal study which determines the causes of criminality and also finds out the remedies to reduce crimes.

The fundamental purpose of criminology study is to analyse the various aspect of the crime and to formulate effective measures for rehabilitation and re-socialization of criminals in the community (Walklate, 2015). It has practical utility for bringing the welfare of the society as a whole. Crime control is ultimate task of the criminology and for crime control, it involves the study of the causes behind the incidence and various co-related factors influencing the offender (Sampson & Laub, 2016).

According to KOEHLER, behind every crime, there are various causes. All of these causes of crime are explained differently by psychologist, sociologist, and criminologist and hence these explanations led different theories such as:-

  • I. Theory based on Biological cause,
  • II. Theory based on Psychological cause,
  • III. Theory based on Sociological cause,
  • IV. Theory based on Socio- Psychological cause (KOEHLER, 2015).
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Explanation of Theory based on Sociological cause

These theories have an objective to explain the criminality. It gives importance to the factor which commonly affects the criminals. This theory considers the social condition of criminals for the criminality and causation of crime significantly depends on the social interface (Cohn, et al., 2016). The person while violates the provisions of the law have full knowledge that they will have to face penal significance for their acts. Sociology theories of criminal behaviour can be explained in following three heads:-

  • Structural Explanations
  • Sub-cultural Explanations
  • Multiple Factor Approach

Structural Explanations

Siegel has explained that these sociological theories give emphasis that structural defects in the society or family are the main cause of the criminality. The meaning of structural defects is the general breakdown of common social conditions (Siegel, 2016). Fundamental inequality in the structure of the society is indicated by this theory. Inequalities are generally experienced for the achievement of the opportunities valued by the society. All people have the desire to be successful wealthy, educated and wants to possess materials such as bungalows, cars, nice clothes and all other luxurious materials (Hopkins, 2016). But everybody has not got such opportunities. Some have greater opportunities such as wealthy families have greater chance to receive good-quality education.

The popular explanation of the social structure and anomie theory has been explained that the collapsing of social condition which has been brought by ruthless economic conditions responsible for the behaviour of the criminal (KOEHLER, 2015). This theory rejects the basic concept and individual behaviour of crime .This theory looks in the broader circumstance such as social structure and anaemia for the explanation of criminal behaviour (Siegel, 2016).

Subcultural explanations

The second sociological theory focuses on the variation in the standard for different groups. A subculture is similar to subdivision within a primary cultural group which has its own standard values and beliefs (Myrstol & Chermak, 2008). The lifestyle of people, belonging to a subculture, differs significantly from the main group. Deviant behaviour is also supported by subculture. In the study of criminology, the subculture of criminals carries their own standards and value which are different from the big group (Cohn, et al., 2016). Most subculture holds the view that big society is corrupt and not good.

Multiple factor approach

As different criminologist hold a view no particular approach is appropriate for the study of criminology so they suggested to multiple factor approach. The supporters of this opinion believe that multiple factors are responsible for the occurrence of crime (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997). Different crimes are the result of different crime and no two crimes are necessarily being the result of same criminal mind-sets. The influence of crime also differs on criminals many crimes have the larger impact and some have less impact (Walklate, 2015). Sociologists take crime as a matter of changing social conditions and environmental deviations.

Contribution of these theories to the field of criminology and an understanding of deviance

The sociological approach towards criminology was the most impactful approach during the twentieth century. As the study of systems social behaviour and structures, sociology itself revolves around the behaviour of the human being and causes about a particular behaviour (Sampson & Laub, 2016). As per the comments of WEISBURD, the sociological theory of crime uses an objective approach to describe criminality (WEISBURD, 2015). They stressed upon various factors which are very much common in many criminals. Most of the criminologists prefer this sociological theory of crime. They feature criminality into the social conditions of the criminal (Siegel, 2016). Social interactions are major cause factor for the occurrence of crime. The three heads described under sociological theories of victims of crime such as multiple factor approach, sub-cultural explanations, and structural explanations. These three theories were explained in the paper previously (Walklate, 2015).

Structural explanation under sociology theory explains that structural defects existing in the society lead to criminality (KOEHLER, 2015). When the structural defects or breakdown of the usual social conditions occurs, it increases basic inequalities in the social structure. All people leaving in the society has aspirations to be wealthy, educated, and successful and wishes to acquire material objects such as good clothes, cars, bungalows and all luxuries of life (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997). As the opportunities are not available at equal level and some people have best opportunities while even some people do not have bare necessities. These inequalities give rise to a feeling of frustration and result in crime (Hopkins, 2016).

A social structure and anomie describe that the breakdown of social conditions due to the lower economic condition is the reason for criminal behaviour (Myrstol & Chermak, 2008). He disapproves the idea that crime is an individual behaviour and analyses the situation beyond the personal surroundings of the criminals to a broader context of social structure and deregulation. This sociological theory describes that anomie is a situation when rules do not control the behaviour of the people (Cohn, et al., 2016). When rules do not control behaviour and aspirations do not exist.

The second sociological approach concentrates on subcultural descriptions and stresses on the differences in the norms set for different groups. Sub-culture arises when people living in similar conditions find themselves isolated from the main group and forms their own group for mutual support (Myrstol & Chermak, 2008). Subcultures may be created by members of ethnic and racial minorities, among various occupational groups and among prisoners.

The sociological theory describes the fact that criminal behaviour occurs due to frustrations faced by lower class people who are deprived of any legal means to reach their aspirations. Study of criminology is facilitated by sociological theory of victims of crime (Birol, 2013).

When the different approach of study criminology does not yield any result, multiple factor approach was used for criminology. Crime is a result of a combination of varieties of factors which cannot be described in terms of general manner (Sampson & Laub, 2016). Family background and social environment also play a pivotal role in the study of criminology.


The above paper focuses on the study of three terms victimisation, victimology and criminology. Three terms are described in detail in the paper and how three factors are interrelated are described. The study of criminology can be done better through victimisation and victimology.

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References and Books for help with Criminology

Birol, A. P. J., 2013. Human Tracking Victims: Identification and Profile in Brazil. International Perspectives in Victimology, 7(2), pp. 18-24.

Cohn, E. G., Farrington, D. P. & Iratzoqui, A., 2016. Changes in the Most-Cited Scholars and Works Over 25 Years: The Evolution of the Field of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 4(1), pp. 201-225.

Hechter, M. & Kanazawa, S., 1997. Sociological Rational Choice Theory. Annual Review of Sociology, 23(1), pp. 191-214.

Hopkins, M., 2016. Business, victimisation and victimology: Reflections on contemporary patterns of commercial victimisation and the concept of businesses as ‘ideal victims’. International Review of Victimology, 22(2), pp. 161-178.


Myrstol, B. A. & Chermak, S. M., 2008. Victimology. In: The study of victims and patterns of victimization. London: Oxford University Press, pp. 452-495.

Sampson, R. J. & Laub, J. H., 2016. Turning Points and the Future of Life-Course Criminology Reflections on the 1986 Criminal Careers Report. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 57(6), pp. 420-442.

Siegel, L. J., 2016. Criminology: The Core. 6th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Walklate, S., 2015. Jock Young, Left Realism and Critical Victimology. Critical Criminology, 23(2), pp. 179-190.


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