Old Ways and New Ways: The Relation Between Criminology and Sociology in Post-War Sweden

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: Booth 49
Oral Presentation
Anders PEDERSSON , Department of Literature, History of Ideas and Religion, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
The trajectory of criminology in 20th century Sweden can be described as that of a discipline under the influence of medicine in the first half of the century, and of sociology in the second. The change from one scientific perspective on crime to another took place in the decades following the Second World War. This shift has been explained by factors such as the decline of medical explanations of society and human behavior following the atrocities committed by Nazism, and the growing influence of American sociology on Swedish academia during the post-war decades. The validity of these explanations is still to be proven. And even if there is truth to them, the question of how the shift came about is still to be answered.

  In my investigation of the relation between criminology and sociology in post-war Sweden, I will argue that changes can be discerned at three levels in the process by which sociology came to dominate the field of criminology: in the theoretical content of Swedish criminology, in the infrastructure for the production of scientific knowledge, and in the Swedish political discussion on crime. These levels are not separated, neither from each other nor from the society surrounding them, but nevertheless theoretically and empirically distinguishable. An analysis of each of these separate levels will contribute to a better understanding of the relation between them, and of the issue of the relation between criminology and sociology.

  On a more general level my investigation will address questions of disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. It problematizes the relation between sociology and other disciplines of social science. Finally, it illustrates the complex character of the interdisciplinary relations needed to produce a fundamental change in the scientific perspective on a social problem.