Victimology: A study in social science in waiting

Author(s)O'Connell, Michael
Title Victimology: A study in social science in waiting
Source International Review of Victimology, Vol 15, No 2. 2008, p91-104.
Date 2008
Document type Journal article
Summary This paper outlines the development of victimology and its origin as a social science. It is suggested that victimology cannot be regarded as a social science unless victimologists apply a scientific method, at least in a limited way. There are naturally restrictions with conducting experiments, such as being unable to deliberately expose a group of people to a crime to observe their reactions. Another conceptual problem is that a victim's experience of becoming a victim of crime is interwoven with the victim's everyday life. It is accepted, however, that it is important for victimological knowledge to be as accurate and reliable as possible. Victimologists differ about what victimology should or should not include and what should be the focus and what are the best research methods. The importance of separating victimology from the helping side of the victim movement is discussed in depth. The author contends that victimology needs to develop independently of other social sciences, especially criminology. The objective of criminology should be the development of a body of general, verified knowledge regarding the causes and prevention of victimisation, the victimisation process and the effects of victimisation and the efficacy of treatment.
Keywords Victimology; social science; criminal justice system
Topic Research methods