Criminology Peacemaking Criminology
J. Renee Trombley
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 March 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0266


Peacemaking criminology is a branch of critical criminology that became popular in the early 1990s, largely through the work of Harold Pepinsky and Richard Quinney in their seminal edited work, Criminology as Peacemaking (Pepinsky and Quinney 1991, cited under General Overviews). In a separate chapter, Quinney provides nine propositions for understanding the characteristics of criminology as peacemaking and gives directions for how individual transformations can characterize a justice system ruled by peace instead of war. Peacemaking criminology is grounded in the knowledge that what we know is always limited, that individually we are all on a spiritual journey, that human life is characterized by suffering, and that crime and criminal behavior is only one expression of this suffering. Quinney asserts that through love, compassion, and empathy, a nonviolent criminology has the power to end suffering, and thus end crime. Peacemaking criminology explains that personal transformation is the first step for each of us in developing and promoting peacemaking practices and policies. It is through this individual level of transformation that change will be possible on a broader scale. These ideas are revolutionary and evidence of their implementation can still be elusive. However, processes built on the tenets of restorative justice integrate some of the core principles of peacemaking criminology and do offer an opportunity to put this perspective into practice. This outline explores the philosophical perspective of peacemaking criminology and offers an examination of the ways that peacemaking criminology has been applied in real world settings. The process of teaching peacemaking through pedagogy in the criminal justice classroom is examined as well as ways that peacemaking criminology has been envisioned through various programs and policies, including those focused on restorative justice practices, both within the United States and internationally (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Criminology article “Restorative Justice”).

General Overviews

A perspective of peacemaking criminology was formally introduced to the field through Pepinsky and Quinney 1991. The first chapter, Quinney 1991, lays a foundation for understanding this perspective, with nine propositions that provide philosophical insight into the basis of peacemaking as criminology. Pepinsky 2006 highlights the influences and history behind the development of peacemaking and offers a very informative picture for the reader, while Pepinsky 2013 discusses the opportunity for peacemaking criminology through the use of restorative justice programs and practices. Wright and Friedrichs 1998 supports the conclusion on the importance of this work in a study examining the most influential contributors in peacemaking criminology. While examining the potential impact that criminology as peacemaking might have, Wozniak 2009 analyzes the work of C. Wright Mills and the possibility for an integration of the propositions in order to effectively address social structural harms on a broad level. Caulfield 1996 also addresses issues of social structural harm, focusing on race, class, and gender differences, but also suggests, as peacemaking supports, a focus on personal transformations. Klenowski 2009 adds to this discussion by articulating the argument involving whether peacemaking is more a philosophical proposition for individual living or a broader conceptual understanding on the causes and correlates of criminal behavior.

  • Caulfield, S. L. 1996. Peacemaking criminology: Introduction and implications for the intersection of race, class, and gender. In Race, Gender, and Class in Criminology. Edited by M. D. Schwartz and D. Milovanovik, 91–103. New York: Garland.

    Provides a description of peacemaking criminology and adds to this discussion the implications for the perspective to adequately address issues surrounding the justice system and inherent issues correlated with race, class, and gender differences. Suggests an examination of the nature of social structures while operating on a personal or individual level and seeking to eliminate harmful practices in general in the pursuit of peace and justice.

  • Klenowski, P. M. 2009. Peacemaking criminology: Etiology of crime or philosophy of life? Contemporary Justice Review 12:207–222.

    DOI: 10.1080/10282580902879344

    Examines spiritual and philosophical roots of peacemaking criminology, provides a valuable perspective of its development in the early 1990s, and discusses events leading up to and shaping this perspective. Articulates the argument over whether peacemaking criminology represents a theory for crime control or a philosophy for living that is more personal. Finds that for peacemaking criminology to provide real and practical applications for change, we must begin at the individual level, within the hearts of each and every one of us.

  • Pepinsky, H. E., and R. Quinney, eds. 1991. Criminology as peacemaking. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

    The seminal work in peacemaking criminology, this text provided the first introduction for many to thoughts and ideas presented by critical criminologists interested in how compassion, care, empathy, and understanding could change the “warlike” mentality that continues to dominate social and criminal justice institutions in the United States. An edited text, this book provides a foundation for much of the work that followed describing, documenting, and discussing peacemaking criminology.

  • Pepinsky, H. E. 2006. Reflections of a radical criminologist. Ottawa, ON: Ottawa Univ. Press.

    This publication provides an overview of lifetime experiences influencing the development of thoughts among one of the leading contributors to peacemaking criminology, Hal Pepinsky. This work articulates a narrative of defining influences that worked to shape a perspective of compassion, empathy, and nonviolence as a response within criminal justice and criminology. Describing these experiences from a deeply personal place allows a truly informed understanding on the development of this perspective.

  • Pepinsky, H. 2013. Peacemaking Criminology. Critical Criminology 21:319–339.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10612-013-9193-4

    Discusses the development of peacemaking criminology, as a sub-discipline, school of thought, theory, or perspective, acknowledging discourse on the very identity of this concept. This article identifies the roots of a peacemaking criminology perspective and provides an enhanced understanding of the history of the perspective. In addition, the article also integrates an exploration of restorative justice processes, as peacemaking criminology in practice.

  • Quinney, R. 1991. The way of peace. In Criminology as peacemaking. Edited by H. E. Pepinsky and R. Quinney. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

    One of the most cited and influential works associated with peacemaking criminology, this work lays a foundation for this perspective by noting nine observations that provide the basis for understanding the core assumptions of peacemaking criminology. Incorporates ideas that suggest the need to go beyond the self, and that it is only through love, compassion, and empathy that we may one day find peace, both personally and collectively.

  • Wozniak, J. F. 2009. C. Wright Mills and higher immorality: Implications for corporate crime, ethics, and peacemaking criminology. Crime, Law and Social Change 51:189–203.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10611-008-9151-3

    Paper provides a reassertion of the necessity to examine social institutions and structures when considering conceptions and sources of crime and deviance. Illustrates how the work of C. Wright Mills can be linked with the propositions of peacemaking criminology in order to address structural inequalities and the harm that often results. Argues that this inequality requires balancing in order to attain a more peaceful, humane, and just society.

  • Wright, R. A., and D. O. Friedrichs. 1998. The most-cited scholars and works in critical criminology. Journal of Criminal Justice Education 9.2: 211–231.

    DOI: 10.1080/10511259800084291

    Article provides analysis of 412 separate publications within critical criminology literature in order to name the most influential scholars within the field. Peacemaking criminology stands out for a newer framework for thinking critically about issues of social justice, real harm, and the criminal justice system. In particular, Richard Quinney is noted for his work within the peacemaking perspective, and is heavily cited within the literature.

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