Victimology: The Three Ideological Tendencies of Victimology

Victimology is a very interesting field of study, still with many uncharted territories (LeClair, 2007).  It is the scientific study of the physical, emotional, and other harm which victims suffer because of crime.  Victimologists are people who are in essence investigators, researchers, and observers of the victimized persons and their connection to the crime (Karmen, 2007).  As the study of victims constantly tries to broaden so do the ideologies (tendencies) related to Victimology.  Although my ideological preference would be the infusion of the three ideological tendencies – conservative, liberal, and radical – there are pros and cons that must be carefully evaluated first.

The conservative tendency is by far the bulk of what should be expected of each citizen, by my standards anyway.  This ideology focuses mainly on street level crimes (murder, rape, robbery, assault, etc.) and implies that we are all personally responsible for ourselves and we must attempt to prevent, avoid, and recover from criminal acts.  This heavily ties into the individual being responsible for defending themselves, their families, and their livelihood to every extent possible (LeClair, 2007).  The pro of this approach is that the responsibility for one’s actions is their alone. Not surprisingly, this is also the con of conservative tendency.  In the perfect world a person would not place themselves in dangerous situations: like taking midnight walks in a crime ridden neighborhood, or stopping for directions in the middle of gang territory. Although the propensity for victimization in a nicer neighborhood is much less, it is also less likely that someone taking midnight walks in the suburbs, or asking for directions Downtown Beverly Hills, is going to be placing oneself in a risky situation.  This ideology may cover many great points in order to prevent the onset of crime, but it doesn’t focus on people that have a slower learning curve of the worldly issues.  Kids, elderly, mentally ill, and people with disabilities would tremendously be hurt by the conservative ideology.  These groups are more prone to victimization within the conservative circle of thought.

Thus, the liberal ideology should come into play.  However, as the name implies the liberal tendency is just too liberal.  The liberal tendency focuses on street crime and extends its scope to cover white-collar crimes.  According to LeClair (2007)

the victimologist influenced by the liberal tradition also argues that governments should be more supportive of the needs of crime victims and, in that process, they should be providing a safety net system of services, in much the same way as we do for victims of poverty, sickness, and mental illness.”

This argument places the ultimate responsibility on the government and not the individual (LeClair, 2007).  Therefore, it is evident that many people would be almost intentionally careless and not responsible for themselves.  For example, this is evident in the state of Illinois, where the public assistance programs for the poor are being taken advantage off by the “better-off” and “well-to-do”.  This sense of “protection” is nebulous and expensive.  Instituting such an ideology to its fullest extent would not only be costly, but also would prove that it is okay for one to put their responsibilities off on another entity (the government); a debilitating tendency at its helm.  Essentially, the pro of this liberal approach is the help provided to victims who are unable to adhere to the conservative tendency due to their age or disability.

The radical tendency, which covers both the conservative and liberal tendencies, goes a step further by extending its study to victims of nearly everything, from: worldly pollution and ozone layer problems to religious, racial or ethnic bias, even to equal distribution of wealth within and between countries (LeClair, 2007).  This radical theory may add tremendous insight into the world of Victimology, but due to its broad spectrum it is too frivolous and not widely excepted.  In my opinion, the radical tendency totally seems to displace the notion of self-responsibility, thus further propagating the feeling that one is constantly hurt by: pollution, republicans, government, police, discrimination, and etc.  I can understand that dangerous workplace issues and fraudulent actions may be detrimental, and that many people can be victimized by one person or an organization, but the propagation of such an ideology will not only show the citizenry that accountability is not essential.  This type of ideology seems to promote the mindset that crime is happening at every venue before the real crime happens.

Victimology is a very peculiar filed and very much based on philosophical research and perspectives.  The ideologies discussed have very much to offer, but I feel that the conservative ideology, with a dab of liberal and radical ideologies, would be suited best for keeping victimization in line with responsibility and accountablity in place.

Resources

Karmen, A. (2007). Crime victims: An introduction to victimology (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
LeClair, D. (2007). What is victimology. Retrieved September 5, 2007, from Boston University, Vista Online Website: http://vista.bu.edu/webct/

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Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

1 comment… add one
  • nikeria

    i think i wanna be a victimologist when i grow up. very interesting !!!!

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