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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay analyzes the historiography of the field of criminal justice history. It traces the development of four broad approaches to the historical study of crime, policing, justice, and punishment from the start of the twentieth century to the present day. The four approaches identified are characterized as positivist/empirical, theoretical, social, and cultural. Concentrating primarily (but not exclusively) on works focused on the United Kingdom, the essay analyzes the development of each approach in turn, considering its antecedents and impact. The final section of the essay highlights emerging areas of research (including digital humanities projects and historical criminology) and proposes avenues for future investigation.

Keywords: historiography, criminal justice history, theories of crime, social history, cultural history, historical criminology, digital humanities

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