Dalhousie Law Journal


Judith Fingard


Crime, criminal justice, social history, crime, punishment, administrative reforms, institutions, attitudes, criminality, long-term trends, computer-based, statistical profiles, criminal populations


The social history of crime and criminal justice in the nineteenth century has recently tended to emphasize two themes: first, attitudes towards crime and punishment, and the administrative reforms of institutions which grew out of those attitudes; second, the nature of criminality, particularly of serious crime and long-term trends, as revealed in case studies of offences in particular localities, including computer-based, statistical profiles of criminal populations. Both these approaches have their strengths, but it must be recognized that they are heavily weighted in favour of the theoretical, the institutional, and the statistical; they are also predominantly concerned with the view from the top down. Little is revealed about the criminals themselves. Among offenders, only the "sociar' criminals, bent on resisting authority or protecting customary rights, have attracted historical inquiry. Yet to study popular resistance and civil strife at the neglect of more prosaic "common" offences is to overlook the delinquents who kept the criminal courts and the prisons in business.

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