Show Summary Details

Criminology (1st edn)

Steve Case, Phil Johnson, David Manlow, Roger Smith, and Kate Williams
Page of

Printed from Oxford Law Trove. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 March 2023

p. 37614. Sociological positivism

Determined to predeterminelocked

p. 37614. Sociological positivism

Determined to predeterminelocked

  • Steve Case, Steve CaseProfessor of Criminology, University of Loughborough
  • Phil Johnson, Phil JohnsonCriminology Lecturer and Academic Subject Leader, University Centre at Blackburn College
  • David Manlow, David ManlowPrincipal Lecturer in Criminology
  • Roger SmithRoger SmithProfessor of Social Work, Durham University
  •  and Kate WilliamsKate WilliamsSenior Lecturer in Criminology, Aberystwyth University


This chapter examines whether crime can be explained from a sociological perspective. Many sociological theories are positivist and argue that the behaviour of each individual is, to an extent, predetermined. This means that offenders are at least partially (often almost wholly) directed by forces outside the control of the individual. What sociological theorists generally suggest is that particular social or societal changes or factors may influence criminal behaviour. This chapter first describes three distinct types of sociological theories: social intervention or social process theories, social structural theories, and social conflict theories. It then considers key concepts in sociology, including socialisation, and the contribution of the Chicago school to the study of criminology, with particular emphasis on its social disorganisation theory. It also looks at the basic concepts of anomie, strain, subculture, and social learning in relation to crime and/or delinquency.

You do not currently have access to this chapter

Sign in

Please sign in to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription