Criminological Theory

Terence P. Thornberry

in The Future of Criminology

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199917938
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950430 | DOI:
Criminological Theory

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This chapter reviews the state of past monothematic, and current multithematic and multidisciplinary, integrated theories of crime, particularly developmental and life course theories explaining why some individuals and not others become serious offenders. It argues that major advances have been made by the measurement of official and self-reported delinquency, and the understanding of the heterogeneity of criminal careers. It recognizes the role of individuals’ decision-making and human agency in offending, and desistance from offending and nonoffending. Future theories will become more encompassing, incorporating biological and economic factors. At the same time, it is desirable to counteract the proliferation of different theories by the creation of a unified theory, which should link the development and explanation of offending with interventions.

Keywords: crime theory; developmental theory; life course theory; offenders; delinquency; criminal careers; human agency; offending

Chapter.  3784 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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