Click here to skip to content

Criminology and the sociology of deviance

This page explains what the subjects of criminology and social deviance covers, gives an overview of the material the British Library holds for this subject, and advice on how you can find and use it. It also gives details of current activities for developing the collections for this subject.

For the purposes of this guide 'criminology' is understood within a sociological framework with links to cultural theory. 'Criminology' as a discipline generally claims to be empirically grounded and this sets it apart from other studies of moral and legal discourses. The objects of study for criminologists are those actions and behaviours defined as 'criminal' by law as distinct from the sociology of deviance, which covers actions which can be considered transgressive in a given social and cultural system. Criminology and the sociology of deviance therefore operate together and have close links to other subject areas such as Sociology, Social Policy, Law and Legal Studies, Anthropology, Human Geography and Cultural Studies in terms of theoretical and methodological approaches.

Collection overview

As a legal deposit library, the British Library holds copies of all those key criminology texts published in the United Kingdom and collections from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa are also well represented. The strength of the library is as repository for both primary and secondary sources and as such is a particularly useful resource to those interested in the study of crime and deviance from a socio-historical perspective and from a comparative perspective. The table below summarises some key aspects of the collections which will be of interest to those studying criminology and the sociology of deviance.

Special collections

Bibliographies and guides

Our collection of topical bibliographies is currently being expanded. Recently created bibliographies include:

We welcome your suggestions for areas to be covered.


Useful external links

Social Sciences Enquiry team

For more help on using the Social Sciences collections, contact the Enquiry team at or telephone +44 (0)20 7412 7894 from 10.00 - 20.00 Mon- Thurs or 10.00 - 17.00 Friday.

Related content