Social Institutions and Crime

Steven F. Messner, Richard Rosenfeld and Susanne Karstedt

in The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747238
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Social Institutions and Crime

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Over the past several years, criminological theorists have shown renewed interest in the role of social institutions in the onset of crime. This development has been aptly labeled the “new institutionalism” by Susanne Karstedt in 2010 and has been manifested most prominently in recent studies on criminal punishment. Recognition of the central role of institutions in trying to understand the societal response to crime is not new or surprising, given that the criminal justice system is itself an institution (or an institutional subsystem). Social institutions influence how social life is regulated and facilitate the functioning of social systems. There are three interrelated dimensions of social institutions that are particularly relevant to the study of crime: institutional structure, institutional regulation or legitimacy, and institutional performance.

Keywords: crime; social institutions; new institutionalism; criminal punishment; criminal justice system; social life; social systems; institutional structure; institutional regulation; institutional performance

Article.  8795 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime

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