Orientating Perspectives in Studying Crime

In studying crime, various orienting perspectives or theoretical frameworks can provide different lenses through which researchers and scholars understand and analyse criminal behaviour, its causes, and its consequences. Two such perspectives are correctionalism and appreciation.

Correctionalism, also known as positivism or the positivist approach, emphasises the scientific study of crime and focuses on identifying the causes and correlates of criminal behaviour. It seeks to understand crime through empirical evidence, data analysis, and the application of scientific methodologies. Key features of correctionalism include:

Determinism: Correctionalism posits that criminal behaviour is determined by various factors, such as biological, psychological, or social factors. It assumes that individuals may be predisposed to criminal behaviour due to inherent traits or external influences.

Risk factors and predictive models: Correctionalism seeks to identify risk factors associated with criminal behaviour, such as genetic factors, childhood experiences, or social environments. It aims to develop predictive models that can assess an individual's likelihood of engaging in criminal activity.

Treatment and rehabilitation: Correctionalism emphasises the importance of interventions aimed at rehabilitation, addressing the underlying causes of criminal behaviour, and reducing recidivism. It supports evidence-based approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or educational programs, to prevent future criminal involvement.

Appreciation, also known as constructionism or the social constructionist approach, focuses on the subjective and socially constructed nature of crime and criminal behaviour. It emphasises the role of societal and cultural factors in defining and responding to crime. Key features of appreciation include:

Social context: Appreciation recognises that crime is shaped by social, cultural, and historical contexts. It explores how societal norms, values, and power dynamics influence the definition of crime and the labelling of individuals as criminals.

Language and symbolism: Appreciation examines how language, discourse, and symbolic representations influence the perception and understanding of crime. It highlights the role of media, political rhetoric, and public narratives in shaping public opinion and responses to crime.

Power and inequality: Appreciation emphasises the significance of power relations and social inequalities in the study of crime. It explores how factors such as race, class, gender, and privilege intersect with the criminal justice system, influencing processes of criminalisation, punishment, and social control.

Social movements and activism: Appreciation encourages engagement with social movements and activism aimed at challenging unjust systems and promoting social change. It recognises the importance of grassroots movements in advocating for alternative responses to crime and addressing structural injustices.

Both correctionalism and appreciation offer valuable insights and perspectives in understanding crime. They highlight different aspects of criminal behaviour, focusing on scientific explanations and individual rehabilitation (correctionalism) or the social and cultural context and the impact of power structures (appreciation). Integrating multiple perspectives can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of crime and inform policies and interventions that address its complex nature.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.