Book Review of Criminology: An Integrated Approach

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Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology Book Review 2011, Vol. 3(1): 165-167 J. Smallride

Book review: Criminology: An Integrated Approach, by Gregg Barak. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2009. 379 pp. $85.00 cloth. ISBN: 978-0-7425- 4712-4. $59.95 paper. ISBN: 978-0-7425-4713-1:

Reviewed by Joshua Smallridge Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Criminology: An Integrated Approach may not be what many expect. When most criminologists or students think about integration as applied to criminology they likely think of the integration of crime causation theories, as this is the integrated approach most often covered in criminological texts. Within this book, readers will find a much wider and diverse view of integration. In which the study of crime, crime control, criminology, and criminal justice are all examined, and the point made that insights from all these "criminologies" are needed in the field of criminology and for the development of a “global criminology”. The author’s overall objective for this book is to provide a globally and historically integrated approach to the study of crime, crime control, criminology, and criminal justice. The author makes a strong case for the need of such an integrated approach, while demonstrating the interconnectedness of these traditionally separate areas of inquiry.

         The book is divided into three Parts. Within part I, consisting of chapters one though five, the author attempts to provide an integrative perspective of crime, and crime control through a global and historical lens. The first chapter serves as an introduction for the rest of the book. In which the author discusses globalization as it relates to criminology, provides a history of criminological integration, and reviews many integrated theories that have played a pivotal role in the legitimization of theoretical integration. Chapters two and three examine the range of official and unofficial crimes both in the United States and globally. Within these two chapters the full spectrum of crime is explored, effectively painting a fuller view of crime in comparison to most textbooks. Chapters four and five provide a short review of crime control theories followed by a discussion of crime control as it relates to risk management, surveillance, cultural notions of dangerousness, and the penal industrial complex. Within these two chapters, interesting topics such as the militarization of the police in this global age, and prison labor and the issues surrounding it are thoroughly covered.

          Within the second portion of the book, chapters six through ten, the author examines the historical changes to criminological inquiry overtime, and offers a succinct overview of theoretical contributions to the filed of criminology. Most criminological texts limit their coverage of criminology’s historical progression to discussions of the classical, positivist, and critical stages of development. In chapter six, Barak includes a discussion of this traditional view, but also provides much more. Including, a look at multiple revisionist histories of the filed, providing the most attention to a revisionist history of criminological inquiry based on a political-economic viewpoint.

        The theoretical portion of this section, chapters seven through ten, covers all of the standard theories that have had an impact on the field of criminology. This includes theories stemming from economics, law, biology, psychology, and sociology. These theories are briefly covered; however, the information is sufficient to glean the potential of integration between theories. In addition, some theories that are rarely covered in criminological text such as anarchism and peacemaking theories make an appearance. Taken together the first and second parts of this book set the stage for the third part of the book, consisting of chapters eleven and twelve, the author covers an assortment of integrative theories and returns to the topic of globalization. In chapter eleven Barak discusses an assortment of integrative theories that as a whole demonstrate the wide range of pathways integrative theories can take. Within chapter twelve Barak returns to the topic of globalization; drawing on what was set forth in books entirety, the author suggest multiple public policy strategies. For example, suggestions are made for improving police behavior, and for reducing crime. These strategies are well reasoned, and Barak is persuasive in his arguments.

           The text is well written, and when visual cues are used, they are generally helpful. In this text, Barak does a phenomenal job bringing attention to areas of study that are often overlooked

or are just now beginning to emerge within the field. I found the discussion of unofficial or overlooked crimes within chapters two and three, and the eclectic assortment of integrated theories covered in chapter eleven to be particularly stimulating. In short, this text is thought provoking. It enhances greatly ones understanding of globalization as related to criminological study, and integration. Some of the material presented within this text is of a complex nature. For this reason, I feel this text is appropriate for upper level undergraduate courses or even graduate classes. For general reading, I highly recommend this text for those who are interested in integration or globalization as it relates to criminology.