Role of criminal law in limiting pathologies as a serious threat to 21st century societies Cover Image

Rola prawa karnego w ograniczaniu patologii jako poważnego zagrożenia dla społeczeństwa XXI wieku
Role of criminal law in limiting pathologies as a serious threat to 21st century societies

Author(s): Katarzyna Laskowska
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence
Published by: Instytut Nauk Prawnych PAN

Summary/Abstract: The work discusses the phenomenon of social pathologies. The aim of the work is to show the threats it causes to the modern society which cause the need to limit the phenomenon with all measures available, including criminal prosecution. Discussion is presented from point of view of criminology and criminal law. The author emphasises that the problem of pathology in modern society is very important. One cannot deny that the notion of pathology is often used, even over-used. An analysis of pathology definition provided by the experts in this topic (A. Podgórecki, J. Wódz, A. Gaberle i J. Malec) leads to a conclusion that there is no common definition of the phenomenon. A review of opinions by doctrine representatives allowed to present a catalogue of the most common features of social pathology. These are: behaviours of individuals and groups, incompatibility of human behaviours with the system of norms in a given community, destructiveness and harmfulness of behaviours disturbing the functioning of a given community, dynamics of the phenomenon. Diversity of the listed features causes a question if all these elements are objective criteria to judge pathological phenomena. The presented discussion leads to a conclusion that listing such features is very difficult. It is related to fact that norms, opinions and values in societies change with time and that their judgements is characterised by subjectivism. Hence, because there occur objective and subjective criteria for judging the phenomenon of social pathologies, it is difficult to coin a common definition. As a result, the Author proposes to define pathology as “detrimental (both for the society and particular individuals) human behaviours which infringe a established system of social norms”. The study emphasises that pathologies are related to processes of undergoing social and economical changes hence the scope of phenomena defined as social pathologies has been changing over the years. Changes in the political, social and economic system were accompanied by changes in quantitative and qualitative changes in the characteristics of social pathology. At present, on can observe an increase in the number and the diversity of pathological behaviours. Apart from alcoholism, prostitution, suicide, illicit drug addiction, there appeared also other ones: addictions from prescribed drugs, television, computer, sex, gambling, eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), activity of sects and subcultures, homelessness, begging, new forms of crime (e.g. organised crime). It should be noted that with years some behaviours defined as pathological lost this feature (e.g. mental illness) and some ceased to exist (parasitism, negative attitude to work). The causes of new pathologies’ emergence and development are rooted in the transformation which influenced almost all spheres of life: family, school, social and personal life of an individual.

  • Issue Year: 2009
  • Issue No: XXXI
  • Page Range: 147-158
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Polish