Inventing Criminology

Essays on the Rise of 'Homo Criminalis'

By Piers Beirne

Subjects: Criminology
Series: SUNY series in Deviance and Social Control
Paperback : 9780791412763, 288 pages, February 1993
Hardcover : 9780791412756, 288 pages, March 1993

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Toward a Science of Homo Criminalis: Cesare Beccaria's Dei Delitti e Delle Pene (1764)

Images of Dei Delitti e Delle Pene

Reading Dei Delitti e Delle Pene as a Text of Enlightenment

Enlightenment and Darkness

The "Science of Man" in Dei Delitti e Delle Pene

From the "Science of Man" to Homo Criminalis

Chapter 3. The Rise of Positivist Criminology: Adolphe Quetelet's "Social Mechanics of Crime"

The Failure of the Classical Project

The Statistical Movement and the Compte Général

Quetelet's Social Mechanics of Crime

Quetelet and His Critics

Chapter 4. The Social Cartography of Crime: A. M. Guerry's Statistique Morale (1833)

The Movement in Cartography

Crime, Development, and Education in Statistique Morale

Crime and Education: Statistique Morale and British Empirical Research

Chapter 5. Between God and Statistics: Gabriel Tarde and Neoclassical Criminology

Classical Penality and the Positivist Revolution

The Critique of Lombroso's "Criminal Man"

From Moral Statistics to a Social Psychology of Crime

The "Normality" of Crime: Tarde's Debate with Durkheim

Crime and Penality: The Neoclassical Compromise


Chapter 6. Science, Statistics, and Eugenics in Charles Goring's The English Convict (1913)

Calculations of Criminality: The Lombrosian Challenge

The English Convict 1: Confronting Lombrosianism

The English Convict 2: Mental Hereditarianism and Eugenics

A Reconsideration of The English Convict

Chapter 7. Epilogue

Appendix: The Invention of the Term Criminology




This book traces the intellectual history of criminology, analyzing the influence of early classical European concepts of criminality and the development of positivist methodologies. It is an original and carefully researched work, adding significantly to our knowledge of the history of criminology. From Cesare Beccaria's Dei delitti e delle pene to Charles Goring's The English Convict , Beirne offers refreshing and challenging insights on the intellectual and social histories of a variety of important concepts and movements in criminology.

Piers Beirne is Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Southern Maine.


"The attempt to transform the conventional connection between classicism and positivism is very original, yet with an originality which has strong contemporary connections. " — Alan Hunt, Professor of Law and Sociology, Carleton University, Ontario

"Beirne is so deeply immersed in his materials that he is able to go far beyond the usual cliches to make observations about which I frequently said to myself, 'Yes, of course that is what is going on here! Why didn't I see that myself?''' — Nicole Hahn Rafter, College of Criminal Justice, Northeastern University