Show Summary Details
Textbook on Criminology

Textbook on Criminology (7th edn)

Katherine S. 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: 04 December 2023

17. Positivist explanations of female criminalitylocked

17. Positivist explanations of female criminalitylocked

  • Katherine S. WilliamsKatherine S. WilliamsLecturer in Law, University of Wales, Aberystwyth


Course-focused and comprehensive, the Textbook on series provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. This chapter examines theories on female offending, which include biological, hormonal, and psychological theories; learning theories; masculinity/femininity theories; strain theories; and control theories. Traditional mainstream criminology views male criminality as ‘normal’ and something that merely needs to be kept within reasonable bounds. Female criminality is, however, abnormal, unexpected, and portrayed as pathological and irrational. It is argued that mainstream criminology fails to use social explanations of criminality to explain why women offend or are more conforming than their male counterparts. The most promising ideas so far come from control theories and strain theories, so long as these are applied in a gender-neutral manner.

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