Crime, Politics, and Punishment: Criminological Research for Political Sociologists


Correspondence address: Thomas D. Stucky, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN, USA. E-mail:


As a sociologist studying the intersection of crime, punishment, and politics, it is often surprising to me how many aspects of political sociology and the study of crime and punishment overlap, and yet, there is often limited cross-fertilization of the two fields. For the sake of brevity in this discussion, I refer to those who study crime, deviance, law, criminal justice, and punishment as criminologists. My goal is to provide an extremely brief “primer” on criminology for political sociologists, in the hopes that a short reading of some issues and research in criminology may stimulate additional theorizing and research, as has so often happened when I have read political sociological work. To do this, I begin with a brief discussion of overlaps in political sociological and criminological perspectives. Following this, I highlight some examples of criminological research which incorporates politics, and would likely interest political sociologists, Then, I highlight a hot button issue in criminology – sex offenses – and suggest some ways that political sociologists could examine recent legislation on sex offenders and conclude with brief discussions of a few additional areas of overlap for the two disciplines.