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Introduction to Theory.docx

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University of Ottawa
Carolyn Gordon

Introduction to TheoryTheories can be either simple or complex depending on the number and types of relationships expressed by themTheories can also be concrete or abstractAbstract theories are difficult to tie directly to realityex Einsteins theory of relativity Theories about the effect of social structure on crime rates are abstractsocial structure in an invented concept and crime rates are a mathematical concept derived from dividing the number of crimes by some population sizeTheories are really just a generalization of a sort they explain how two or more events are related to each other and the conditions under which that relationship takes placeThe way we express theses generalizations or think about things depends on the form of knowledge at that timeThe causes of crime are assumed to be known by everyone The problem with most of our day to day theories is that they are illogical or that they are the product of selective observationsHuman behaviour is complex and any simplistic theory will be incorrect therefore theories about crime and criminals tend to be complex theories and are based on what we know from research on crime and criminalsTheories of crime and criminal must encompass a wide range of human activityfor this reason some criminologists advocate limiting theories to specific criminal acts or harmful behavioursPolice departments have designed their activities around some of the theoretical explanationsEach day judges hand down sentences based on their understanding based their understanding of the character of the defendant and the environment in which the defendant livesJurors decide whether to give the death penalty based on their assumptions of future dangerousness of the defendant
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