Criminology in the United States: Contexts, institutions, and knowledge in flux

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The history of criminology in the United States, especially the central role of the social sciences for much of the 20th century and its later differentiation into a field with its own institutions, is examined. A special focus is on the relationship with neighboring fields, the state, and the criminal justice system as sources of problem definitions, funding, and data. Institutional change and the placement of the scholarly field have consequences for criminological knowledge. A brief description of US criminology’s institutional development in a changing socio-political context is followed by a sketch of direct and indirect political interventions in criminology and the consequences for both institutional arrangements and criminological knowledge. These historical accounts are supplemented by a summary of findings from an empirical, sociology of science-oriented study on the effects of institutional context on criminological knowledge in the United States in the second half of the 20th century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of the History and Philosophy of Criminology
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781119011385
ISBN (Print)9781119011354
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Criminological knowledge
  • Criminology
  • Historical context
  • Institutional context
  • United states


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