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Lecture

Opportunity and Lifestyle Exposure Theory.docx

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Department
Criminology
Course
CRIM 101
Professor
Barry Cartwright
Semester
Fall

Description
Opportunity and Lifestyle Exposure Theory - Lifestyle exposure, opportunity and routine activities theory evolved in the 1970’s, when victimization surveys started to gain in popularity - Victimization surveys tried to figure out who was being victimized, who was doing the victimization, what sort of victimization was involved, what the relationship was between victim and victimizer (if any), where and when incidents of victimization take place, how often victimization occurred, etc. Rising Crime Rates - Also a time when crime rates were rising dramatically, and victims were demanding the government take action to protect them Happy Together - Victimology, opportunity theory, lifestyle exposure theory, routine activities theory and rational choice theory are quite similar - All tend to view criminal event in terms of time-space continuum (or environmental backcloth), and examine ways in which offenders and victims intersect in time and space, in the absence of a capable guardian Lifestyle Exposure Theory - Introduced in 1978 by Hindelang, Gottfredson and Garofalo - Same Gottfredson who co-authored A General Theory of Crime with Travis Hirschi - Lifestyles of individuals and groups follow certain patterns, eg where they go, when they go there, who they go with (or who they meet there), what they do when they get there - Offenders don’t select victims at random; instead, they follow similar lifestyle patterns to their victims, and often resemble victims in terms of age, gender, social class, and ethnic origin Eight (Indecent) Propositions - The more time you spend (especially at night) I public places, the more likely you are to become a victim - Lifestyle choices influence the likelihood that you will spend more or less time in public places - People interact with other people who share similar lifestyles - The chances are higher of being victimized by someone who has the same demographic profile as you, in terms of age, gender, social class and ethnic background - Lifestyle choices influence the amount of time you spend with non-family members (or capable guardians) - The chances of becoming a victim of crime increase with amount of time you spend with non- family members - Lifestyle choices (or differences) influence your ability to isolate yourself from offenders - Variations in your lifestyle can influence how convenient and easy it is to victimize you Some Supporting Evidence - 2004 GSS found that rates of violent victimization were highest for young people between 15-24, and lowest for those over age of 65 - Young people more likely to engage in public activities during the evening, whereas older people more likely to spend their evenings at home, or if not, at least in low-risk environment - Rates of violent victimization much higher for individuals who were single or separated/divorced, and who engaged more frequently in evening activities outside of home Routine Activities Theory - Introduced in 1979, by Lawrence Cohen and Marcus Felson - Same Marcus Felson who wrote Ten Fallacies of Crime - Similar to lifestyle exposure theory – came out at roughly the same time, both based on victimization surveys - Routine activities theory tried to explain why crime rates had risen so dramatically throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s - Rising crime rates called into question much of prevailing wisdom concerning causes of crime - Income levels rising, unemployment failing, fewer people living below the poverty line - Why were crime rates going up in times of economic prosperity, instead of going down? The Three Main Elements (the three elements needed for direct-contact predatory violation to occur) - Motivated offender - Suitable target - Absence of a capable guardian Working on the Chain Gang - Husbands, wives, and teenagers working - Traveling to and from work - Leaving home and personal effects unprotected Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic - More people going to schools - More schools to go to - More time spent in schools Shop Till You Drop - Food - Fashion - Functional items - Fun A Different Outlook - Routine activities theorists, ration choice theorists and environmental criminologists all argue that crime is caused less by economic deprivation, and more by economic prosperity - In distinct contrast to Merton’s strain theory, which said crime is caused by blocked opportunities (striving to attain culturally valued goals of prosperity and advancement, without legitimate institutionalized means in place to make this feasible) - In distinct contrast to Shaw and McKay’s social disorganization theory, which put crime down to high residential density, high residential mobility, ethnic and cultural heterogeneity, poverty and broken homes Advances in RAT and Victimology - Cohen, Kluegel and Land’s work on social inequality and victimization - Miethe and Meier’s structural choice model of victimization - Marcus Felson’s concept of metroreef Social Inequality and Victimization - Cohen, Kluegel and Land (1981) agree that target attractiveness and the presence (or absence of a capable guardian) are contributing factors in the criminal event - Also argue that most property crime is motivated by desire for economic gain- not simply because of the thrill or risk-taking element involved, or because the opportunity presents itself - Suggest that income levels have a measurable effect on crime rates - Unemployed or lower income individuals living in urban centers at greater risk of victimization - Higher income individuals able to avoid victimization by reducing their exposure to offenders through enhanced guardianship measures The Structural
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