CRJU 20423 Chapter 2: When Crime Waves: Chapter 2

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Texas Christian University
Criminal Justice
CRJU 20423

When Crime Waves by Sacco Chapter 2: Why Do Crime Rates Go Up and Down I. Introduction a. Widespread perceptions that a crime wave is under way often develop in the context of rising crime levels. b. Some changes in crime levels really suggest only random patterns. The differences may not mean very much in a statistical sense. c. The answer of why crime levels change over time does not have a simple answer for several reasons. 1. First, many of the explanations in which criminologists are most interested tend to focus our attention upon aspects of the human experience that resist sudden change (example biology). 2. Second, changes in crime rates suggest collective rather than organizational phenomena. Typically, crime level changes do not involve any conscious effort on anyones part to coordinate that actions of individuals in the context of some kind of organizational context. 3. Third, crime rates like elevators have ups and downs booms and busts, crests and crashes. We need to address why they go up, but also why they go down. Why crime is rather than the reason why it isnt. Theories of crime explain why people become criminals and not why most of them eventually become uncriminal. 4. Finally, crime rates increase and decrease are not always as obvious to everyone as we might think. Sometimes they can be hidden from public view, even though the trends might be accurately noted by those most directly affected. Sometimes very careful diagnostics are necessary before we speak with confidence that crime level increase are, or are not, under way. d. The general basis in criminological theorizing has been to emphasize stability rather than change. Most theories seek to explain why particular kinds of patterns of crime exist at any one point in time rather than why they change over time. e. Three types of change processes: dislocation, diffusion, and innovation. II. The Demography of Offending a. Demography is a field of study that focuses on the ways in which populations are structured and how they change over time. b. If there are sudden shifts in the relative proportions of the population who are more (or less) likely to be involved in crime, there will also likely be shifts in how much (or how little) crime occurs. c. The two most relevant demographic dimensions in this respect are the maleness and the youthfulness of the population. 1. Maleness a. Largely male phenomenon; for most categories of crime, men are more likely to be offenders, and for most categories they are more likely to be victims as well.
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