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Criminology (1st edn)

Steve Case, Phil Johnson, David Manlow, Roger Smith, and Kate Williams
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date: 02 July 2022

p. 52419. Searching for the causes of crimelocked

p. 52419. Searching for the causes of crimelocked

  • 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 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.

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