To what degree does criminology demonstrate the genuine presence or lack of a paradigm (i.e. theoretical-methodological consensus) to help structure its research enterprise? There are trade-offs to consider when pressing the question, such as a potential drain on efficiency in its allocation of resources, limits on its scientific credibility, and weakened institutional strength resulting from conceptual dissensus. Alternatively, an interdisciplinary field may benefit from insights continually drawn from its various parent disciplines. The present research offers a reply in two parts. The first focus relies on a content analysis of 2,109 peer-reviewed articles published in leading journals from 1951-2008 in providing a positive analysis. There is mixed evidence of methodological agreement and less on the matter of commitment to a specific theory. The second inquiry draws from reactions delivered by 17 leading criminologists on the normative question of whether the field’s a-paradigmatic status helps or harms scientific advance. An analysis of the oral histories indicates an indifference to the criticism of lacking paradigmatic uniformity as a legitimate critique and a vehement defense of porous intellectual boundaries. However, pragmatic considerations such as the potential for a diminishing need to train criminal justice undergraduates and threats to government funding may force the profession to give more consideration to the matter of its scientific bone fides.
The American Sociologist – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 26, 2018
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