International Historical Criminology

Thomas Gilly, CEP France Paris

Globalisation and internationalisation of criminological research have had a stimulating effect on the development of a more or less homogenous, world - wide criminological culture. Cultural homogeneity stands for both, the primacy of empirical - positivism and / or critical rationalism in contemporary social sciences' epistemology and an area of criminological research which is focusing on control of immigration, culture of violence, urban safety policies, organised crime and new forms of terrorism, development of safety policies that combine crime prevention with social safety and national defence. these issues are socially, economically and politically connoted world - wide problems which need enforcement of international co-operation, namely in the fields of criminal justice and safety policing. But the problem of common morals as original reference for crime, although it was at the heart of the pioneer years of criminology and social deviancy theory, was lost of eyes. The paradox of post - or late - modern societies is, that globalisation, cultural uniformity and development of technology go hand in hand with the fight against universality, development of self - referential culture and increase of archaic, i.e. ethnically connoted forms of social organisation. Fragmentation of social cohesion, decreasing common morals supra - individual consciousness and a twentieth - first century recurrent tendency that is characterised by both, the development of the culture of crime and violence and normalised anomie, are the most important consequences. In account of this situation, criminologists are committed more than ever before to investigating those areas of morals and ethics which are related to one of the most important problems of our times: The problem of the limits of social tolerance is closed to the contradiction between decreasing common consciousness, on the one hand, and the possibilities to define and implement prescriptive norms which refer to common morals and to the concept of common interest, on the other hand. Because the latter are closed to the tradition of enlightenment and modern culture, there is great need to face the question whether and how is it possible to re-invent social control and common morals in a context wherein decrease of universals and increase of multi-cultural society go hand in hand with the renewal of nationalism, new< forms of terrorism and the world - wide extension of areas of social exclusion. Because this is so, the question whether it is possible to re-invent modern social control at a global level cannot be answered without taking under account another which is that asks to which degree its implementation is useful and to which extend it could be ethically legitimated. Because self referential culture and decreasing universals do not necessarily preclude pattern of perception of deviancy and models of social reaction, either informal or formal, which are common to different cultural and ethnical groups and societies, the cross national and cultural analyse which is aimed to test the potential of common morals and social reaction to crime and deviancy should occupy a central place within the social and criminological research of the next decades.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006