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The Oxford Textbook on Criminology

The Oxford Textbook on Criminology (2nd edn)

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

p. 442p. 44315. Free will, classicism, and rational choicelocked

p. 442p. 44315. Free will, classicism, and rational choicelocked

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

Abstract

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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