Gray Cavender and Nancy Jurik
This chapter provides an overview of the longevity and popular appeal of the crime genre and its relevance to the field of criminology. In our discussion we include such media as novels, television programs, and films that present fictionalized stories about crime, its investigation, and its solutions. We offer a brief history of the crime genre, indicators of its popularity, and a review of expert opinions explaining its appeal. Then we discuss evidence from conversations and surveys that we conducted with academics and other professionals as well as with students about their views of and engagement with crime genre productions. Our data suggest the myriad ways in which audiences actively engage crime fiction.
Richard B. Felson
This essay suggests that activist rhetoric and imprecise language should be discarded when studying gender and violence. Violence against women should be compared to violence against men and not studied in isolation. It should be studied primarily as violence not sexism, based on well-established principles from the social psychology of aggression. Such an approach emphasizes the violent actor’s point of view and the role of interpersonal conflict, self-presentation, grievance, and retribution. Power and control may play a role in violence against men and women, but other motives are also important. In addition, theorizing should consider well-known sex differences in physical size, sexuality, and emotion. Men’s stronger bodies and sexual interests, and women’s greater tendency to get angry, have important implications. Finally, chivalry should be an important element in any discussion of violence against women. Violence against women occurs despite (not because of) societal norms.
Melissa Peskin, Yu Gao, Andrea L. Glenn, Anna Rudo-Hutt, Yaling Yang, and Adrian Raine
Numerous studies carried out over the past two decades suggest that several biological risk factors significantly increase the likelihood for people to commit crime and violence across the lifespan. Researchers trying to understand the relationship between biology and crime have focused on criminal offenders, individuals who display high rates of violent or aggressive behaviors, and those with psychiatric disorders with a strong correlation to criminal behavior, such as psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. This article summarizes research findings linking neurobiological risk factors with a predisposition to crime, focusing on six domains: genetics, neuroimaging, neuropsychology, psychophysiology, endocrinology and neurotransmitters, and early health risks.
This chapter explores how integrating the science of criminal decision making and contemporary biosocial criminology can benefit our understanding of why people make criminal action decisions and the role of biological factors. It reviews relevant biosocial findings but argues that efforts to link them to criminal decision making are limited by the lack of a strong model of the action process. It then compares how key components of this process—motivation, perception, and choice—are portrayed in models of criminal decision making with what is currently known about their biomechanics. It concludes that models of criminal decision making would benefit from the integration of evidence from the biological sciences and that some common assumptions may need to be reconsidered. It argues that biosocial criminology would benefit from a stronger, more biologically informed model of criminal decision making, which could better explain the role of biological factors in crime causation.
Christopher J. Sullivan
Over the past twenty years, the developmental, life-course framework has emerged as an important means of understanding crime and delinquency. A number of studies tend to focus more on factors that contribute to onset and continuance of criminal careers than their stoppage. Some argue that criminology has fixated too much on trying to elucidate longitudinal offending patterns as series of preordained events playing out over time based on exogenous individual differences. Research has identified a good deal of stability in antisocial behavior and its underlying causes across portions of offenders' lives, along with a fair degree of within-individual change. In 2001, John H. Laub and Robert J. Sampson suggested that desistance, the primary indicator of change in criminal behavior, is the modal pattern in individual offending careers. That observation has become the basis for an empirical benchmark used to evaluate theoretical explanations for offending over the life course. This article highlights ways that developmental, life-course criminologists might enhance their understanding of change.
Richard Wright and Volkan Topalli
People who commit burglary, robbery, carjacking, and other serious predatory street crimes are disproportionately young, poor, and male. Notwithstanding the strong link between these demographic characteristics and street crime, not all young, poor, males commit street crimes and not all street criminals are young, poor, or male. No one can tell based on demographic information on criminals why an individual who has no intention of committing a crime one minute suddenly is determined to do so the next. This article describes the socio-emotional context underlying street criminals' decision to move from an unmotivated state to a motivated one. It also examines why someone chooses to commit a particular type of street crime over other possible licit or illicit courses of action. The article concludes by assessing the implications of its findings for criminological theory and criminal justice policy.
Neal Shover, Andy Hochstetler, and Tage Alalehto
In Western countries such as the United States, crime is viewed as chosen behavior. This assumption emerged as the dominant theoretical underpinning of crime control policy-making in the decades encompassing the dawn of the twenty-first century. Routine activity theory is a good example of how contemporary criminological scholars have been drawn to choice models of criminal behavior. The notion of crime as choice also underlies many, if not most, contemporary interpretations of white-collar crime. For instance, theoretical explanations in which the causal importance of variation in criminal opportunities is stressed are based on choice models. Crime-as-choice theory overlaps but is not coextensive with rational choice theory; it differs mainly from the latter by not incorporating an assumption a priori that criminal choices are rational. This article applies the concepts and logic of crime-as-choice theory to explain variation in white-collar crime.
Scott Jacques and Richard Wright
High rates of violence are characteristic of many urban drug markets because the individuals therein abide by a set of informal rules known as the code of the street. This code governs interpersonal conduct that emerges from the social circumstances found in various communities in America. Drug market participants who subscribe to this code view violence as a means to earn respect, status, and security. Not all drug markets are urban, how or exhibit high rates of violence, however. This is probably the reason why researchers have focused disproportionately on violent, inner-city drug markets to account for the conditions that facilitate violence in such environments. This article examines why there is a dearth of violence in drug markets in suburbs, focusing on the cultural context in which such markets operate. It first describes a study of twenty-five young suburban drug dealers before looking at the code of the suburb. It also assesses the code's impact on drug dealing, especially in relation to handling victimization, and concludes by highlighting the relevance of peace for understanding violence.
Thomas Vander Ven and Mark Colvin
This article explores the link between coercion and crime and how this link has evolved. It also presents five propositions relating coercion to crime. First, coercion is a primary mechanism in the social reproduction process of class society. Second, coercive messages from the larger culture help to enhance the coercive nature of this process. Third, economic conditions help shape the coerciveness of society. Fourth, long-term changes in crime rates are influenced by shifts in impersonal coercive forces related to economic and cultural changes. Fifth, the ratio of coercion to social support within a society is correlated with the shifting balance of power between capital and labor in continuing class struggles under capitalism.
Natasha A. Frost and Todd R. Clear
Using Robert J. Bursik and Harold G. Grasmick's re-specification of social disorganization theory as systemic theory, Dina R. Rose and Todd R. Clear showed how high levels of incarceration, concentrated in poor places, would be expected to have a “tipping point” at which the incarceration would cause crime to go up rather than down. The Rose and Clear model, later called the coercive mobility thesis, treats the removal of residents for incarceration as a major source of instability in poor neighborhoods. Rose and Clear argue that the same sorts of destabilizing and norm-weakening effects that Clifford Shaw and Henry D. McKay originally attributed to residential mobility, would also occur when the cause of the outward migration is incarceration by the state. The coercive mobility thesis assumes that the cycling of people into and out of prison constitutes an important and distinct form of mobility which can harm the communities that are hardest hit by both crime and, perhaps ironically, crime control policies.