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CRIM 2650 Study Guide - Final Guide: Victimology, Critical Criminology, Victim Blaming

Course Code
CRIM 2650
Anita Lam
Study Guide

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How does Victimology relate to criminology? How do victimological theories
parallel or compare to those of mainstream and critical criminology? Relate your
answer to following approaches: positivist, cultural, feminist, and order-ology.
Like criminology, Victimology is also an interdisciplinary, which studies victims
of crime and their psychological effects of being a victim. Victimology is an area within
criminology which is peopled by variety of groups and interests. The feminist perspective has
been quite important for shifting our attention towards the study victims. One of the ways this
happened was through its conception of the “gendered pathways of criminality” where scholars
argued that the cause of female criminality is highly related to a female’s past experience of
victimization. Secondly, they also shifted our attention from public spaces to private spaces of
home and other arenas of victimization which were sometimes neglected by mainstream
criminologists who studies street crimes or corporate crimes. Moreover, just like criminologists
cannot agree on how to define crime and criminals, victimologists also hold disagreements over
the relative validity of the term ‘victim’. Hence, from this perspective, one can conclude that
studying and researching victimology helps in gaining a better understanding of the victim, as
well as the criminal, and how the crime may have been precipitated. Two theoretical
perspectives were developed that linke crime victimization rate to the fact that victims had to
come into contact with a potential offender. These perspectives can be linked to similar
criminological theories that focus on criminals.
In criminology, Felson and Cohen’s RAT holds that crime is a product of convergence of
motivated offender, suitable target, and absence of guardian in time and space. When applied the
same theory to Victimology, the presence of one or more of these factors creates a higher risk of
victimization. For example, leaving one's home during vacation creates a suitable target. Leaving
a home for vacation in an urban area creates an even greater risk; and leaving one's home on
vacation in an urban area in which there are a high number of teenage boys, known felons, or
other "motivated offenders" creates an even higher risk for victimization. Communities with
ample police protection, alarms and other security devices, and community watch teams, lower
their risk by creating guardianship, which is noted under this theory to reduce crime rates.
Hence, in criminology, RAT attempts to explain crime through criminal as their unit of analysis.
While in Victimology, RAT tends to argue that a persons’ routine activities brings him or her
into closed contact with an offender and his crime victimization risk increases. Accordingly,
Targets more likely to be victimized when poorly guarded as well as when they are exposed to a
large group of motivated offenders. Lifestyle theory is another such theoretical perspective
which shows how routine living arrangements can affect victim risk. People might become
criminal victims because they have a lifestyle that increases their exposure to criminal offenders.
For Example: through victimization surveys in Canada, we know that risk of victimization is
increasing by certain lifestyle factors. Highlighted how hanging out with young men, staying out
late night, and living in an urban area is considered a risky lifestyle. As there are risk factors,
there are also protective factors, such as not hanging out with adult men after midnight, staying
home, getting married, wearing proper, non-exposing clothes, and living in rural areas. Thus,
Lifestyle theory sees crime and victimizations as being bound together, because criminals and
victims are intertwined. They provide a proximity hypothesis which asserts that some people
become victims because they live in close proximity to criminals. Both these theoretical
perspectives hold a positivist position of victim blaming or victim culpability. As in positivist
criminology, the criminal rather than the crime is given the focus, positivist Victimology focuses
on factors which contribute to a non-random pattern of victimization, on interpersonal crimes of
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