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Criminological Theories 1

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Kate Fletcher

Lecture 1 Theory in Crime What is TheoryProvides explanations and guides us to think of things in a particular way its a map o How different theories explain the existence of crimeIdeas have consequences different theories are going to guide different forms of action and how we see crime and how we deal with itWe engage in theorizing all the time about everything in lifeTheory as an ExplanationAsks why a particular social phenomenon is occurring o Can deal with abstract ideas or be empirical Links concepts to explain social phenomenon Theories should be testable supported or falsified on some level and sometimes as we move along we have to go back and retest theories since in the passed we didnt have the tools or knowledge to test themTheoryAttempt to move beyond simple knowledge gained through direct experienceA good theory o Logical fit the facts make sense and be consistento Explains conflicting positions be open to instances that do not validate our theory o Novel a new way of looking at things that others have attempted to explain It is going to sensitize people to factors they may have not necessarily considered o Popular popularity does not necessarily mean a theory is good it can only make some theories seem like the right explanationTheory as a MapDescribe and define social phenomenon through concepts variables as building blocksSpecify how to measure social phenomenon operational definitionscausation o Take the concepts and attempt to see why they relate to one another and see why crime is caused o Proving their hypothesiso Links between concepts are generally made through causation or correlationIdeas Have ConsequencesIdeas direct action o Your actions are guided by what theory makes sense to youCriminological NexusTheory PolicyResearchPoint where everything meets interconnected groupThese things cannot exists without one anotherDoing CriminologyTheories provide a basis for action policyShould question authority and establish ideasProvide an explanatory frameworkempirical testingpolicy recommendations Criminological TheoryConceptual plane o Where the concepts reside o Concepts are explained differently based on theorist situation etcOperational Plane o How to measure the concepts o Procedures of observations that are necessary to measure the conceptEg Crime the operational definitions may be crimes known to the policeAssumptions in Criminological TheoryLevel of Study o Macro seek to find explanations in the structure of society itself or within larger social institutionso Micro seek to tell us why certain individuals or small groups engage in particular behaviorso Bridging most theories contain both micro and macro level depends on how you look at the theoryEg subcultural theoryTypes of Behavior o Overt easily observed behaviours walking talking o Covert perceptions goals values sentiments Basis of Society o Consensus people sharing certainty about values and agreeing o Conflict people are constantly in conflict about goals values etc Orientation of Society o Fluid allows for change eg classical school o Static remains the same stability DurkheimOrientation of Individual o Active we make choices classical school We are choosing to engage in criminal behavior o Passive their behavior is determined by forces beyond their control positivistsParadigmA way the majority of theorists will orient themselves withA lens and system of thought how you interpret the worldDetermines the relevant questionsProvides methods and techniques rulesDetermines interpretation of resultsA basis for identity and community solidarityEmphasis on the scientific process and accumulation of knowledge and a recognition of the politics of science o Tend to take scientific ideas as true and think about them as value neutral and with paradigms people get to choose what theory is best at the time science is governed by the politics of the time o Science itself is going to be influenced by the culture and values of the time period and the scientific thought that dominates at a particular time is based on who holds the power and what may be considered a conflict of interest of social and political powerThomas Kuhn attempting to explain how certain research communities end up sharing very similar ideas principles for why things are the way they are o In criminology we do not have a set of certain assumptions paradigm that all criminologists buy intoA paradigm is what you think about something before you think about it a lens through which you see the worldParadigm Shifts when how society understands reality changes o The cultural and historical context allows for a space of opportunity to emerge to allow us to think about the world in a different wayThe Sociological Criminological ImaginationThe sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two in societyC Wright Mills o To grasp criminological theories we need consider 4 things1 The structure of society at that time and how it differs from other societies2 This particular moment in history and whats unique about it3 The characteristics of the people who live at that time in this particular place 4 What is happening to those people at that particular point Lecture 2 Classical and Positivist Perspectives SpiritualDemonic PerspectiveIn the middles ages spirituality merged with a system of organization called feudalism o System with landowners lords where people who work on there represent the labour force serfs o Political social system was dominated by landowners and the churchPerspective paradigm based on these assumptions o Other Worldly the idea that events happening can be explained by other worldly forces look outside of reality to explain why things happenTried to appease the Gods so the bad things do not happen eg pray
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