The Sutherland-Glueck Debate: On the Sociology of Criminological Knowledge

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The Sutherland-Glueck Debate: On the Sociology of Criminological Knowledge

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Title: The Sutherland-Glueck Debate: On the Sociology of Criminological Knowledge
Author: Sampson, Robert; Laub, John

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Citation: Laub, John H., and Robert J. Sampson. 1991. The Sutherland-Glueck debate: On the sociology of criminological knowledge. American Journal of Sociology 96, no. 6: 1402-1440. Reprinted in Piers Beirne, ed., Origins and Growth of Criminology (Dartmouth Publishing, 1994).
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Abstract: During the 1930s, Edwin Sutherland established the sociological model of crime as the dominant paradigm in criminology and as a result became the most influential criminologist of the 20th century. This article examines Sutherland's debate with Sheldon Glueck and Eleanor Glueck about the causes of crime and the proper focus of social science research. Previously unavailable correspondence and unpublished papers are examined along with published works from the period (1925-45) when Sutherland was developing the theory of differential association and the Gluecks were launching research on criminal careers. The competing paradigms of the Gluecks and Sutherland are also placed in the socio-intellectual and institutional context in which they worked. It is shown that Sutherland's attack on the Gluecks' interdisciplinary research program was driven by: (a) a substantive version of sociological positivism that attempted to establish criminology as the proper domain of sociology, (b) a commitment to the method of analytic induction, and (c) Suther- land's rise to prominence in sociology. In addition, key aspects of the Gluecks' perspective reflecting their own professional interests in law and psychiatry further contributed to sociologists' hostile reaction. Nevertheless, the article presents evidence that the Gluecks' research on such fundamental issues as age and crime, criminal careers, and social control is more correct than commonly believed and, in fact, occupies center stage in contemporary re- search.
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