- 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.