Developmental and Life-Course Theories of Offending

Francis T. Cullen, Michael L. Benson and Matthew D. Makarios

in The Oxford Handbook of Crime Prevention

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398823
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Developmental and Life-Course Theories of Offending

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Most of the traditional theories of crime only focused on one stage in life, namely the teenage years, because criminologists believed that adolescence was the period when participation in illegal activities increased. This resulted in a wide range of “theories of delinquency” in criminology. This article studies several developmental and life-course theories that help in understanding crime across the lives of people. One of these is Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi's claim that steady criminal behavior across life is caused by low self-control, a characteristic that was established during childhood. Another is the perspective, labeling theory, which warns that efforts to prevent people from offending can lead to an increase in criminality.

Keywords: theories of crime; adolescence; theories of delinquency; criminology; life-course theories; steady criminal behavior; self-control; labeling theory; criminality

Article.  10416 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime

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