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Course-focused and comprehensive, the Textbook on series provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. This chapter first considers theories that seek to describe how conflicts within society may lead to criminality, or more exactly how they explain the type of criminality which will occur. These include the theories of Marx, Engels, Bonger, Sellin, Vold, Dahrendorf, Turk, Quinney, Chambliss, and Seidman. The chapter then discusses radical criminology, the most recent of the ‘New Criminologies’, which has been described variously as Marxist, socialist, left-wing, and critical. This is followed by a discussion of cultural criminology, a fairly new school of thought that draws together many of the modern and critical aspects of criminological thought and methodological approaches, such as a phenomenological approach and the ideas of symbolic interactionism; critical criminology and the Birmingham School; and radical and political approaches and layers in modern sociological analyses from culture, style, media culture, identity, and space.

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This chapter reflects on criminological theories. It begins by considering what a theory is, how a theory can be assessed, and exploring the overarching ideas in criminology. Criminological theory improves the understanding of why laws are made, how and why we enforce rules and punish those who break them, the effects of crime control, how and why people choose to break or obey rules, and the effects of rule breaking. The main theoretical schools in criminology include classicism, positivism, interpretivism, and critical criminology. The chapter then looks at the importance of free will and rational choice and demonstrates how these ideas in the 17th and 18th centuries underline the modern criminal justice system and may explain how and why we, as a society, feel we can and should punish those who choose to break the law.

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Keith Hayward and Wayne Morrison

This chapter offers a comprehensive introduction to how criminological theory has developed and is used. It presents a series of theoretical vignettes, each of which provides both an accessible introduction to a particular theory and informed signposts to more detailed readings. The discussions cover criminology's two founding doctrines: the ‘classical’ and ‘positivist’ approaches to the study of crime; biological, genetic, and psychological explanations of crime; the Chicago School of sociology; the ‘labelling’ perspective; Marxist/radical criminology; criminological realism; control theory; and cultural criminology.

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This chapter assesses how crime can be explained in ways that integrate ideas from more than one theory. Integrated theories have merged ideas, explanations, and arguments from more than one theory within a school of theories and even across different schools, thus they may also be called multi-factor or hybrid theories. The chapter begins with an exploration of integrated positivist theories, which can be divided into two main groups: sociobiological theories and social control theories. It then moves on to examine integrated risk factor theories, which can also be divided into two main groups: artefactual risk factor theories and enhanced pathways risk factor theories. The chapter concludes by revisiting the role, context, and influence of integrated theories in the evolution of theories in criminology.

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6. How does criminology ‘know’ about crime?  

Subjectivity, supposition, and study

This chapter examines the means by which different forms of knowledge are created in criminology and what it means to know about crime, with particular emphasis on the empirical research methods used by criminologists. It also discusses the complex interplay between subjectivity, supposition, and study in producing knowledge in criminology; the benefits and limitations of different research study methods on the creation of criminological knowledge; criminological theory as knowledge; and various research methods in criminology such as experiments, surveys, bservations, and secondary analysis. Finally, it considers how subjectivity, supposition, and study interact with, and impact on, understanding and knowledge production in criminology.

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This chapter examines recent developments in the sociology of crime and deviance, with particular reference to the criticisms that have been hurled against it, as well as the emergence of alternative theories. It assesses the value of the major theories covered in this book in terms of prescience and explanatory rigour, along with the extent to which the approach has benefited from and contributes to allied fields. It considers the acceptance of the premise that crime and deviance were problematic, rather than immanent, properties of social conduct. This is followed by a discussion of ‘left realism’ and ‘right realism’ and an analysis of radical criminology, post-modern criminology, strain theory, labelling theory, control theories, radical theory, and cultural criminology. It concludes with a discussion of the need to put local concerns in global perspective with threats ranging from terrorism and narco-violence to state corruption, climate change, energy insecurities, and pandemic diseases.

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This chapter examines theories that integrate the main concepts and arguments from existing theories and challenge their position as the hegemonic theoretical explanations of crime. It begins by placing integrated theories of crime in the context of the historical development of criminological theories. It then considers integrated positivist theories of crime in explanatory and practical terms, focusing on socio-biological theories and social control theories. It also discusses evolving integrated explanations of crime as well as integrated risk factor theories, including artefactual risk factor theories. Finally, it looks at the Edinburgh integrated pathways theory, which provides an holistic explanation of youth crime, along with constructivist pathways risk factor theories and enhanced pathways risk factor theories as explanations of crime.

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This chapter investigates critical criminology. The strands that are widely regarded as most important in the development of critical criminology are labelling perspectives, Marxist-inspired critical theories, power perspectives, and feminist perspectives. The ideas and insights contained within these theories inspired and prepared the ground for more recent developments in the field, including cultural criminology and convict criminology. Critical criminology not only suggests that we make small alterations to criminal justice systems; instead, it requires us to question everything we think we ‘know’ about these systems and the societies and communities in which we live. It questions how and why we control behaviour, looks at power from the perspective of the oppressed or the powerless, and suggests alternative narratives that should be part of our accepted knowledge base.

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This chapter examines various sources of knowledge on the sociology of crime, deviance, and control, noting the lack of a straightforward route to the collection of information available. It argues that information is difficult to obtain due to the tendency of subjects to protect, conceal, or misrepresent. As a result, sociologists of deviance have to content themselves imperfect data. The materials upon which theories are fabricated are characterised by limitations, constraints, and distortions. In addition to the covert nature of deviance, deviants themselves rarely engage in collective efforts to interpret their own behaviour. Due to secret practices and restricted information, rule-breaking is represented to inquisitive outsiders as something else, most research is limited and parochial, and the field of criminology is littered with uncertainties. This chapter also examines a number of methods used by criminologists to dispel those uncertainties. Finally, it discusses the development of criminological theory.

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This chapter focuses on criminology's obsession with the causes of crime, especially in light of problems in defining crime. It first considers the reasons why we search for the causes of crime in criminology, with particular emphasis on positivism, which pursues an epistemology based on gathering data in the social world to form the basis of universal laws of behaviour. It then discusses the definitional issues relating to the concepts of crime, as well as the implications of these issues for producing valid and reliable responses to crime. It also explores the dynamic and socially constructed nature of crime when exploring the search for the causes of crime; the culture of causality in explanatory theory; and the use of scientific experiments and survey research to explore the causes of crime. Finally, it looks at the rebirth of experimental criminology in the twenty-first century as well as chaos theory.

Book

Understanding Deviance provides a comprehensive guide to the current state of criminological theory. It outlines the principal theories of crime, deviance, and rule-breaking, discussing them chronologically, and placing them in their European and North American contexts considering major criticisms that have been voiced against them, and constructing defences where appropriate. The volume has been revised and brought up-to-date to include new issues of crime, deviance, disorder, criminal justice, and social control in the early twenty-first century. It considers new trends in criminological theory such as cultural criminology and public criminology, further discussion of how post-modernism and the ‘risk society’ is reformulating crime and deviance, and an assessment of how different approaches address the fall in crime rates across most democratic and developed societies. There is also a new chapter on victimology.

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This chapter addresses the causes of crime, the exploration of which has been a high priority within criminology as the main way of explaining crime and of informing responses to crime. The chapter begins by considering how criminologists understand crime and the causes of crime, comparing interpretivism with positivism as ways of exploring and thinking about crime. A central motivation for identifying causes is to validate the factors targeted through criminological responses such as sentencing, crime reduction and prevention activity, and policy. The dominance of positivist experimentation within criminology and the associated search for causes has been re-animated in the 21st century by the growing popularity of experimental criminology in the US, most notably the ‘what works’ experimental method of evaluating crime prevention programmes. The chapter then looks at contemporary challenges to the experimental ‘what works’ approach, namely realistic evaluation, the theory of change model, and chaos theory.

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This chapter explores the importance of free will and rational choice in the criminal justice system. It first explains the purpose of theory and how to interpret, test, and critically consider ideas in the context of criminological study before discussing classical theories which assert that people freely and rationally choose to offend and therefore can — and should — be punished or have their choices prevented (by, for example, reducing offending opportunities). It then considers the main theoretical schools in criminology including classicism, positivism, interpretivism, and critical criminology. It also looks at classical criminology and the key thinkers that shaped it, including John Locke and Jeremy Bentham, as well as the policies to which it gave rise. The chapter concludes with an analysis of neo-classical criminology, rational choice theory, routine activity theory, and situational crime prevention.

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This chapter examines the origins, definitions, and principles of feminist criminology. It begins with a discussion of the main theoretical traditions that underpin feminist criminology, namely liberal feminist theory, radical feminist theory, Marxist feminist theory, and socialist feminist theory. It then considers feminist epistemologies such as feminist empiricism, standpoint feminism, and postmodern feminism, as well as the intersections between gender and other structures of disadvantage. It also evaluates the interrelationships between gender and crime by addressing feminist explanations of female crime and masculinities studies of male crime, along with the role of gender in the criminal justice system. The chapter concludes by analysing feminist criminologists' criticisms of what they describe as the androcentricism of mainstream criminological theories as well as some of the key criticisms against feminist perspectives on gender and crime.

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13. Biological and psychological positivism  

Determined to predetermine

This chapter examines the contribution of biology and psychology to our understanding of crime and its causes from the perspective of individual positivism — those aspects of positivist criminological explanations that look for diffrences between criminal and non-criminal populations. It traces the development of biological and psychological positivist thinking from its roots in the nineteenth century through to more modern approaches in the twenty-first century where these biological and psychological traits are merely seen as one factor which may increase the likelihood of criminality rather than causing it. The chapter identifies the main biological and psychological theories relating to criminology and discusses the arguments of positivists regarding punishment and rehabilitation as a means to deal with offenders or criminals. It concludes with an analysis of learning theories that see most criminality as a product of learned behaviour.

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14. Sociological positivism  

Determined to predetermine

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.

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This chapter, which introduces some of the complex interrelationships surrounding the various ways that crime is constructed and objectified, shows that, in practice and in the literature, there is much disagreement over the exact definition of a crime. It discusses four frameworks in which to make sense of how crime is defined: (a) crime as a social construction; (b) crime as a product of religious authority/doctrine; (c) crime as a reflection of nation-state legality; and (d) more recent concepts beyond the nation state derived from social and political theory.

Book

Katherine S. Williams

Course-focused and comprehensive, the Textbook on series provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. Textbook on Criminology offers an engaging and wide-ranging account of crime and criminology, addressing the theoretical, practical, and political aspects of the subject. The clarity of approach makes it an ideal text for students wishing to gain a firm grasp of the fundamental issues, together with an appreciation of some of the complexities surrounding the study of criminology. The author deals with the major questions of criminology, such as: How do you define a crime? Why do people become criminals? How should we deal with criminals? Each question is studied from an objective and academic viewpoint and encourages greater social, political, and philosophical awareness of crime, criminals, and society's response to them. The text also maps out the changes in crime control and society's expectations in relation to it. For example, students will find the insightful chapter on terrorism and state violence to be of particular interest and relevance; established criminological theories are applied, and the author addresses issues such as political responses to terrorism and the reasons why people become terrorists. The text is ideal both for students studying towards a degree in criminology, and students opting to study criminology as part of another subject, such as law.

Book

Stephen Jones

This expanded sixth edition of Criminology provides the reader with a clearly expressed and concise analysis of the main sociological and psychological theories of crime and deviance. It is written on the basis that, to facilitate understanding, it is necessary to provide a full account of the historical background and development of these theories. The book also contains an extensive discussion of the perception and nature of crime. It has been completely updated with the significant developments in key areas such as criminal statistics, and the latest research in the scientific study of behaviour. The book is written in a clear and readable style that helps students understand even complex aspects of criminology. In drawing on a wide range of research, the author seeks to ask the right questions, rather than provide definitive answers. The book is thoroughly referenced, providing plenty of opportunity for further reading for those interested in researching the area in more detail.

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This chapter discusses the origins of the term ‘criminology’, which emerged at the end of the nineteenth century because a group of theorists laid claim to systematic knowledge as to the nature of criminal behaviour, its causes and solutions. Prior to this, commentaries on crime largely arose out of other enterprises. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the administration of criminal justice in most European countries had been influenced by the views of several writers whose approach, although differing in certain respects, has come to be referred to as ‘classicism’. The basic view as to the organisation of society adopted by the classicists was influenced by the social contract theories of Hobbes and Rousseau. Individuals agree to join together to form a society, and there is a consensus within the society for the private ownership of property and the protection of its members from harm.