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Criminology and Criminological Schools and their influences on the formation of a criminogen profile in societies

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SARAIVA, Barbara Frazão [1]

SARAIVA, Barbara Frazão. Criminology and criminological schools and their influences on the formation of a criminogen profile in societies. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 05, Vol. 07, pp. 127-136. May 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Acess Link:


The article on screen aims to perform a historical analysis of criminology highlighting the changes related to the positions of criminological schools, regarding the profile of the criminal and his deviant behavior over time and the influence of this in the social environment. In order to carry out the relevant discussions on the subject, the study will take shape from a review of the literature, which, in turn, will be proposed to allude to important aspects that stand out in the field of criminal theories. They are crucial for a Brazilian historical panorama, and, from it, to carry out the necessary reflections on the criminal profile, with emphasis on Brazil. Thinking about such questions justifies the relevance of this study.

Keywords: Criminology, Criminological Schools, changes, social environment.


This proposal aims to analyze, from the point of view of criminal science, about the transformations tangential to the construction of the criminal’s image. To this end, it will be based on concepts and theories of criminological schools in order to verify their expressiveness in the environment in which one lives. Initially, we will discuss what criminology is, the object of this science and the method it uses, as well as the position of several authors on the subject. Then, a brief historical analysis of the Schools of Criminological Thought will be carried out, highlighting the perceptions of each one in relation to the analysis of the criminogen profile. This is a review paper based on the deductive method, and thus is based on bibliographical research.

Due to the methodological approach employed here, the research will focus on aspects that permeate the field of criminology. It will also be verified how these elements demonstrate the importance of thinking criminological science from the social point of view, because from this asymmetry with society it is possible that there is a better understanding of the criminogen profile. It aims to identify the offenders through the presentation of different views about the justification of the crime, highlighting that such theories are the fruit of human thought, and, thus, these visions are influenced by multiple human relationships conditioning times.



Initially, according to Silva and Miquelon (2018), it should be emphasized that criminological science does not have uniformity with regard to its definition, because, according to the authors, there are several concepts given to it that vary according to the author. Thus, the indoctrinators Antônio García-Pablos de Molina and Luiz Flávio Gomes are references in the theme, because they coin criminology and its concepts from an empirical and interdisciplinary perspective. This is the study of the crime, the offender’s person, the victim and the social control of delitive behavior (MOLINA; GOMES, 2002). According to Lola Anyar, Criminology studies the creation of criminal norms – through social norms that involve those of a criminal nature – the process of their denial, the establishment of these norms and the social reaction resulting from their practical effect (CASTRO, 1983).

For many, Criminology is a human and social science that aims to study its objects, namely: the crime, the offender, the victim and social control. Thus, Schecaria (2012, p. 44) alludes that: “despite having several concepts, Criminology can be understood as empirical and multidisciplinary science that seeks to understand several processes, including the social one, that involve its object, namely: the crime, the offender, the victim and social control”. For Schecaria (2012) there is a close relationship between Criminology and Criminal Law that makes both have the same object, namely: crime and its variables, but differ in the focus given to their studies. Criminal science should be understood as a norm of repressive character, since it understands crime as an abnormal social conduct.

From this perspective, criminal law understands that there must be a punishment for its violation. Criminology, in turn, understands crime, the criminal and their conduct through a causal-explanatory perspective, and thus proposes preventive means for these criminals to cease to be. In this sense, Pimentel understands (2007, p. 81) that it is: “important to point out that the aforementioned matters conceptualize the crime in different ways, understanding criminal law as a crime the typical, illegal and culpable action or omission and Criminology, understands it as a social problem that involves moral, religious, economic, philosophical, political, historical, biological, psychological and other aspects”. The importance of the study of the criminal is emphasized as time goes by, because the characterization of the offender, according to the parameters of the Criminological Schools, dictates sanctioning paths for criminal law, as well as allow a sociological analysis of each historical moment.

With regard to the offender as the object of study of criminal science, Paula (2013) alludes that he should be understood as a historical subject, real, complex, and therefore enigmatic by essence. It is, then, a normal person, and thus the environment in which it is influences on it, and consequently on its actions. For Schecaria (2012), another important aspect is the study of the victim who suffers from the practice of the delictive act that can be caused by his own acts, by acts of others or even acts of chance. Initially, criminal law disregarded the figure of the victim, focusing only on the offender, but from the point of view of criminal science, the victim was also considered in the analysis of the criminogen profile. According to Penteado Filho (2013), three phases should be considered with regard to the victim from a criminal point of view.

They are, respectively, the “golden age, the neutralization of the victim’s power and the revaluation of its importance” (PENTEADO FILHO, 2013, p. 24). The “golden age” is understood by the indoctrinators as the period that lasted until the High Middle Ages. The victim was understood as the core of the process and there was the occurrence of private revenge. According to France (2018), the second phase comprised the process of neutralization of the victim, and thus, after designated the punitive monopoly for the State, a process model based on public actions that prevails to this day in the most diverse legal systems was used. For Viana (2016), there were, at this stage, few criminal actions of a private nature, and also rare possibilities of interference of the victim in the criminal sphere.

The third phase, finally, comprises the rediscovery of the role of the victim. The study of victimology allowed a deeper study in the study related to crime, due to the valuable information provided by them. This science is of paramount importance, because, from it, we began to analyze the damage suffered by the victims that change according to the types of crimes and the severity with which they were committed, which helped a lot in the reintegration of victims into the social environment. With regard to social control, it is noteworthy that it is of paramount importance to analyze the cause-effect relationship between social control and crime for the study of Criminology. As known, conflicts are inherent to social interaction, and can be solved between those involved only or with state intervention, depending on the degree of disapproval that crime has in society.

According to Molina (2002), social control composes a set of institutions, as well as strategies and sanctions arising from the social environment. They then aim at promoting and ensuring safety and understand community models and standards in this process. In this sense, since the beginning of civilizations, societies have established norms of conduct so that there is a social balance, constituting sanctions via social control when there are transgressions of them to maintain social order. Thus, Conde (2005, p. 22) predicts that “social control thus determines the limits of human freedom in society, constituting, at the same time, an instrument of socialization of its members”. It is important to note that criminal social control arose not only to punish the criminal, but also to delimit ius puniendi by the State. For Beccaria (2003, pp. 19-20):

In this social pact it would not only be the origin of criminal law, but also its limit, since only necessity obliges men to cede a portion of their freedom; it is that each of you only agrees to put in the common deposit the smallest possible portion of it, that is, exactly what was necessary to commit others to keep it in possession of the remainder. The assembly of all these small portions of freedom is the basis for the right to punish. Every exercise of the power that departs from this foundation constitutes abuse and not justice; it is a power in fact and not in law; usurpation and never a legitimate power.

It is important to highlight, considering the context presented, that sciences such as Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Psychiatry were fundamental for criminological analyses, thus serving as a basis for aiding statistics and observations, necessary, in turn, to define the research method for each period. Over the years and methods, from such interdisciplinary analyses, it is perceived that the crime became not the only object of study of Criminology, since this science established other objects as scope and of equal importance for the realization of analyses: the offender understood from a preventive and repressive perspective.


Regarding the historical periods of Criminology, since antiquity (period designated as pre-scientific), there were already sparse texts that revealed concern with crime. The period is referenced in the Code of Hammurabi, dated approximately 1772 to. C., based on the Law of Talion, with the maxim “eye for an eye, tooth for tooth”, in which he preached revenge, that is, the retributive penalty. In this period, the crime was understood from religious and supernatural perspectives, being seen as a sin, judged based on the ethical and moral values of the time. Regarding the emergence of Criminology, there is disagreement about its inaugural framework, and it is certain that the majority doctrine has the date of 1879 and was inaugurated by the French anthropologist Paul Topinard. The idea was disseminated and, in 1885, Raffaele Garófalo used the term crime science in the work “Criminology”.

From the Enlightenment, in the eighteenth century, the Classical School appears, whose main exponents were Cesare Beccaria, Francesco Carrara and Giovanni Carmignani, characterized by the adoption of the logical-abstract and deductive method, based on syllogism and the foundation of criminal responsibility in free will. At this stage, it is worth mentioning the book “Dos Delitos e das Penas”, written in 1764 by the Marquis of Beccaria. This is a criticism of the current penal system, in which it denounces torture, punishment and disproportionate punishment, collaborating with the reform of the system (BECCARIA, 2001). It remains clear that this School did not have homogeneous theories, because its adherents diverged in many postulates, but it remains clear that the penalty, criminal responsibility and crime were the ideas that characterized it.

Thus, the jusnaturalist and contractualist doctrines, which, at first, seem opposed, believed in legal norms superior to the State, thus questioning the legitimacy of their tyranny. In this sense, baratta teaches (1999, p. 33): “the social contract is the basis of state authority and laws; its function, which derives from the need to defend the coexistence of individualized interests in the civil state, is also the logical limit of every legitimate sacrifice of individual freedom through the action of the State.” It highlights, in particular, the exercise of punitive power by the State itself. Because of this, School supporters defended the restoration of human dignity and his right before the State, which contributed substantially to criminal law.

At the end of the 19th century, under the inspiration of physiognomy and phrenology, a period called Scientific began, which led to the emergence of Criminological Positivism. The Italian Positive Scuola had as leaders Lombroso, Ferri and Garofalo, and Lombroso is the author of the work “The delinquent man”, published in 1876. He is considered by the indoctrinators as the father of Criminology, and also as the creator of the discipline “Criminal Anthropology”. He employed the empirical method in his investigations and advocated biological determinism in the criminal field. The Italian physician believed, based on his medical research penitentiaries that used the explanatory causal method, that the criminal consisted of a variety of the human species, affected by anatomical and physiopsychological anomalies.

For him it was certain that physical traits would identify the criminal by nature. To this end, he proposed the establishment of a profile capable of verifying people prone to committing crimes. Paula (2013 apud MOLINA, 2002, p. 24), states that “Lombroso’s main contribution to Criminology does not lie so much in his famous typology (where he highlights the category of “born delinquent”) or in his criminological theory, but in the method he used in his investigations: the empirical method”. In the sociological phase of this School, according to Paula (2013), in which Enrico Ferri stood out, he continued the movement that popularized criminiogenous, anthropological, physical and social phenomena. In addition to defending criminal substitutes, the jurisconsult gave greater emphasis to the prevention of crimes, besides presenting the penalty not as a way to punish the individual, but to readjust it to social life.

According to Paula (2013) and Mansoldo (2018) allude that Ferri censured the “classics” claiming that these nullified the theory about the genesis of crime, which led to the factual finding of this, with their presence. He proposed, as a substitution, adherence to an “etiological” view about this crime, and thus guided scientific research in order to verify the causes of crime (MOLINA, 2002). He also stressed that the criminal would be destined to commit criminal practices due to his life context, and thus supported the idea that there is no free will. In the legal phase of the School, there is special emphasis on The contributions of Garófalo. His research was about the crime itself and defended the relationship between the criminal character with a psychic and moral anomaly, introducing criminal dangerousness as a criterion of criminal measure.

Garófalo held the position of jurist, and thus proposed a legal systematization to the Positive School. It emphasized, above all, principles such as dangerousness, understood as the basis of the offender’s responsibility and special prevention as an end of the sentence, basing the right to punish on the theory of Social Defense and formulating a sociological definition of natural crime (BITENCOURT, 2000). Rodrigues (2019) alludes that, for Garófalo, from the use of the term “Punishment”, understood as philosophy, it was based on the premise that the penalty should be due to the characteristics of each offender, without using, therefore, conventional criteria, such as retribution or atonement, correction, or prevention. Each offender is unique and demands different penalties.

Also called anthropological, naturalist or realistic school, it stands out for acting in a multidisciplinary way, that is, it uses other sciences, such as Psychiatry, Anthropology, Sociology and Statistics to analyze human behavior. In order to perform a more complete and detailed analysis, external or internal factors are used, such as the cause and the environment in which it arises. In this context, the Positivist School understands that the criminal chooses to commit the crime. That choice is free. It is also assumed that the factors that influence this criminal come from their life context, which places him in a state of abnormality, in which the normal person is able to live in society. The Classical and Positive Schools, in turn, according to Ribeiro (2017), were the only criminal currents that, at the time, assumed distinct philosophical positions.

Subsequently, the Critical School came, which understands crime as a social phenomenon and seeks to explain and justify the way the factors of the social environment act on individual conduct, leading man to delitive practice. This School seeks a paradigm of social reaction, breaking with the etiological paradigm of previous schools, and, thus, there is a series of discourses that are the results of the set of diverse knowledge from various fields of knowledge. They are used to illustrate the criminal phenomena based on the knowledge of homogeneous cooperation in each historical time. Through these discourses, several currents emerged that sought to reconcile their ideas in search of new models of study for criminology, and criminological thinking was influenced by two main views of Macrosociology.

According to Abreu (2018), the first is the Theory of Integration (also known as Consensus Theory or Functionalist). This current encompasses the Chicago Sociological Schools, the Differential Association Theory, the Theory of Anomy, and the Delinquent Subculture Theory. Therefore, it aims to reflect on the ways that make society function perfectly, so that subjects can share common objectives to the collectivity, obeying, therefore, the existing norms. There are then voluntary associations that create social systems and share similar values, making mutual cooperation work. They present as elements stability, integration, functional coordination and consensus. According to this theory, social change represents a dysfunction.

The second was the Theory of Social Conflict, in which are inserted the Theory of Labelling Approach, interactionist theory and critical theory, which understand crime as a social and selective phenomenon, directly linked to life in society. For Good (2011), the Theory of Social Conflict understands and is based on aspects such as fact and order and how these manifest themselves in society. These elements are founded on the form of strength and coercion, and thus are made possible by the domination of some individuals before others, which places a part of society as subject to these others. There is, then, a dominant and dominated relationship.

This theory was defended by several authors, and among them, Karl Marx stands out, who understands, from his theoretical-philosophical writings, that every element in a society would contribute to its disaggregation and transformation. Paula (2013), in her study, emphasizes that the success of this School occurred due to the fact that it is based on the effective use of the information it provides in order to analyze the criminal political effects. According to Molina (2002), only these theories are based on the hypothesis that crime is a selective phenomenon, first of all, social, and thus are linked to certain processes, structures and social conflicts, and, therefore, variables should be isolated.


This reflection sought to emphasize and also discuss, from the historical point of view, the objects of Criminology. These are extremely complex and should be analyzed from interdisciplinarity. Thus, it should be emphasized that the scope of the work was not to exhaust the themes on the subject, because it would be too exhausting to analyze the numerous theories developed by it. The aim of this article was to elucidate the essential aspects related to the field of criminal science. First, we analyzed the Criminological Schools, and also their analytical methods for understanding their objects, considering the various social nuclei.

It is concluded that Criminology is crucial for understanding the multifaceted criminal phenomenon inserted in societies. After research of each phase, School or Theory of criminal character, we noticed the relevance of the thought of each epoch with regard to the motives of the crime generates in the social sphere, especially with regard to criminal laws, in their formations of criminal types and criminal policies. In this sense, the importance of interdisciplinary analysis was pointed out, such as historical, political and social in the study of the objects of this science for the understanding of the reasons that determine the factors that promote the mapping of the criminogen profile of each context.


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[1] Bachelor of Laws from fluminense Federal University in 2012.

Sent: April, 2020.

Approved: May, 2020.

5/5 - (5 votes)
Barbara Frazão Saraiva

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