The History of Animals in Criminology

The field of criminology remains interdisciplinary with feminists and philosophers of animal rights being of great significance to criminologists whose interests lie in studying animal abuse. Animal abuse has emerged a coherent object of study, an aspect remedying its long-standing neglect. Although the subject has not yet achieved full recognition, it has emerged among the criminological discussion topics. This entry endeavors at providing a concise history of animals in criminology.

Since around 1970, animals have increasingly become subjects of study in criminology. The increase could be allied to two major intellectual tendencies. To begin with, scientists are increasingly portraying keen interest in applying the principles of ecology and ethology to studying human societies. Besides, there is an immense desire among social scientists to discard Durkheim’s grand assertion, which avers that the cultural and social spheres of human life are independent from the biological realms. The outcome of the convergence of these predispositions is that allegations pertaining to the nature of human-animal interaction have found their way into the surprising multiplicity of contentious debates in the field of criminology. Even though the aspect of involvement of animals in criminology has not achieved recognition fully, it is moderately finding its way into the criminological discourse. It is quite surprising that animals already offer an astounding amount of material for these diverse criminological problems. Inclusive in these is the pattern of urban class relations within the early 19th Century England, which are the supposed linkages amid crimes and human nature, previous records of adults engaging in inter-human violent behavior, and behavioral expressions of children who would probably develop into violent grown persons.

In the present-day criminology, animals most often appear within the sector of family violence. Schematically, it appears that allied animal abuse frequently occurs inexplicably in a range of family violence situations, such as child sexual abuse, heterosexual and homosexual partner abuse, and child physical abuse both in schools and at homes. Nevertheless, as Westerhuis, Valters, and Wyatt  explicate, criminologists have their lenses toward animal abuse owing to the persistence of human-inflicted suffering upon animals during criminal acts. Most of the animal abuse acts in criminology are perceived as harmful and abusive, and consequently considered worthy of criminological attention.

Generally, the history of animals in criminology is gaining eminence. Several scholars have committed strongly toward placing numerous studies of animal abuse on the agenda of criminology and sociology. In the recent years, criminologists have delivered evidences on animal abuse at diverse conferences. Similarly, roundtables and panels on the topic have been organized at the yearly conventions of both the British and American Societies of Criminology. Ultimately, animal involvement in criminal acts is no longer ignored as it used to several decades ago.

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