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Throughout time, criminologists began to ask complex social questions about the nature of crime and criminals. Many of the queries centered around the behavior of criminals, rather than on the criminality of behavior. There has been interest generated which has focused more upon accounting for the factors and influences which lead to criminal law violations and the behavior of offenders rather than it has upon the lawmaking processes through which criminal prohibitions are produced.

Contemporary views

There is no single theoretical position on crime causation that can be identified as the liberal perspective. There are many ways in which contemporary criminological theories can be classified. Contemporary views regarding deviance represent distinctive studies from Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). French sociologist Emile Durkheim was responsible for two seminal themes on crime and deviance. According to Goode (2005), he was one of the first to insist on the “normality” of criminality. Durkheim maintained that the “normal” and “pathological” are not intrinsically different forms of behavior. Durkheim asserted that it is neither possible nor desirable for a society to repress criminality completely. His second and possibly most important contribution to the study of deviant behavior is in the theory of anomie, which was originally developed as an explanation of suicide (Vold, Bernard and Snipes, 2002). When traditional rules have lost their authority over behavior, a state of deregulation, normalness, or anomie may exist.

Signs of violence

The criminal serves as an identifying sign of the limits of permissible behavior. If these violations of normative sentiments could be repressed, both men and women would become sensitive to the less marked deviations which are now overlooked, and these acts would then be regarded as crimes (Schmalleger, 2007). These increasingly intolerable demands for conformity, which would then possibly be imposed on individuals, not thought of as criminals, would be detrimental to social progress.



Goode, E. (2005). Deviant behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


Schmalleger, F. (2007). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the 21st century. (9th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.


Vold, G., Bernard, T., & Snipes, J.B. (2002). Theoretical criminology. New York: Oxford University Press.


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