Criminological scholarship is among the key drivers of penal discourse and criminal justice policy. However, those seeking to model the relationships between criminology, penal discourse, and criminal justice policy confront the thorny matter that criminological thought’s contours are stubbornly difficult to measure: efforts to date either flatten criminology’s underlying variations or focus unsystematically on parts shorn from the whole. We offer an approach that makes possible more systematic and credible claims from which future analyses may proceed. We draw on the most comprehensive dataset of criminological thought to date, which comprises 47,558 Anglophone criminological journal articles citing to 249,659 reference texts drawn from more than a century of scientific production. We classify criminological ideas using socially networked co-citations, and we differentiate trends in engagement with those ideas using k-means clustering. We observe four periods of structural change in criminological thought: during 1910–1961, criminological ideas crystallized into coherent research programs; during 1962–1976, they stratified into those deserving attention from those that did not at the same time that the bulk of ideas were relegated from criminology’s core to its periphery; during 1977–1999, they institutionalized into accepted divisions of mainstream from fringe; and during 2000-2015, they settled into boundaries that distinguished the ‘thinkable’ from the ‘unthinkable’. Identifying criminology’s key currents in this way helps disentangle the complex interplay between criminological knowledge on one hand and its assorted determinants and effects on the other.


Please note: The event will be a Hybrid event, but only available as 'in person' to Oxford Criminology staff and students with limited capacity. 

Registrations will close at 12 midday on Wednesday 2nd February. The link will be sent to you later that afternoon. 

Dr. Johann Koehler

  • Bio: Johann Koehler is an Assistant Professor in the LSE’s Department of Social Policy. Prior to joining the LSE, he earned a PhD and JD from the University of California, Berkeley, and before that he earned an MPhil from the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. Johann’s research interests lie in the origins, applications, and limitations of the movement to pin criminal justice to scientific insights — what in some circles is called ‘evidence-based’ justice reform. Those interests encompass historical work on the stratification of criminological knowledge into persuasive and unpersuasive policy-informing claims, technical work on the policy levers that crime and justice professionals pull, and critical work on the forms of control that those policy levers implicate. Some of his recent work appears in the British Journal of Criminology, Law & Social Inquiry, and Punishment & Society.