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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: 12 August 2022

p. 668p. 66922. Searching for the causes of crimelocked

p. 668p. 66922. Searching for the causes of crimelocked

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

Abstract

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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