You are here

Criminological Theory in Context

Criminological Theory in Context

January 2015 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This book provides a lively, concise and definitive introduction to the study of the causes of crime. Authoritative yet accessible, it offers a guide to the historical development of criminology as an academic discipline and in doing so:


  • presents an overview of a range of different theories of crime, including classical, biological, psychological and sociological approaches
  • analyses the strengths and weaknesses of each theory discussed
  • provides chapter overview boxes and key summary points
  • helps you to take your studies further with self-study tasks and suggestions for further reading.

In covering key theoretical positions and placing them in their historical context, Criminological Theory in Context is perfect for students taking introductory courses in criminological theory.

Chapter 1: Studying Criminal Life
Crime and society: an introduction  
Researching criminal life: the place of theories of crime  
Chapter 2: Classical Criminology and Contemporary Rational Choice Theory
Introduction: the reasoning criminal and the social contract  
Society, crime and punishment  
Classical criminology and crime deterrence  
Neoclassical criminology  
Critiquing Classical/Neoclassical criminology: does deterrence work?  
Contemporary rational choice theory  
Situational crime prevention, opportunity theory and routine activity  
Chapter 3: Biological Criminology
Introduction: Classicism, positivism and the development of Biological forms of criminology  
Physiognomy and phrenology  
Lombroso and atavism  
Lombroso’s heritage: in search of the criminal type  
Genes and crime  
Brain development, injuries and mapping  
Biochemistry, hormones, diet and crime  
Chapter 4: Psychological Criminology
Introduction: the Classical school and Psychological and Biological theories of crime  
Freud and personality development  
Eysenck, dimensions of personality and criminal behaviour  
Sutherland, differential association theory and social learning  
Psychological criminology and mentally disordered offenders  
Chapter 5: Strain Theory, Social Disorganisation Theory and Labelling Theory
Introducing the sociological study of criminal life  
Durkheim: social facts, social solidarity and anomie  
Merton and Agnew: anomie and Strain Theory  
Park and Burgess: Social Disorganisation Theory and the Broken Windows hypothesis  
Mead and Blumer: symbolic interactionism and Labelling Theory  
Lemert, Becker and Erikson: towards the sociology of deviance  
Restorative justice and Braithwaite’s Reintegrative Shaming Theory  
Chapter 6: Critical Criminology, Part 1: Marxist, Peacemaking and Realist Theories of Crime
Determinism and free will in sociological forms of criminology  
Critical criminology: a conflict theory of society  
Critical criminology and the duality of structure  
Karl Marx and Willem Bonger: towards a Marxist theory of crime  
Marxist criminology: crime as a rational response to the conditions of capitalism  
Peacemaking criminology  
Left and Right Realist criminology  
Chapter 7: Critical Criminology, Part 2: Feminist and Cultural Criminology
Critical criminology and Feminist and Cultural theories of crime  
The feminist critique of ‘malestream’ criminology  
Marxism and Feminist criminology  
The growth of female offending: power/control theory, the liberation opportunity thesis and the economic marginalisation thesis  
Feminism, masculinity studies and contemporary Critical criminology: highlighting the importance of gender, race and class  
Cultural criminology  
Chapter 8: Postmodern Critical Standpoints and the Criminal Life Course
Introduction: Critical criminology revisited  
Positivism and realism, postmodernism and anti-realism  
Life Course criminology  
Chapter 9: Reflecting on Theories of Crime, Theories of Human Nature: Crime in the Age of the Enterprising Risky Citizen-subject
From modernity to high modernity  
The neoliberal enterprise form and the criminal justice system  
Conclusion: reflecting on theories of crime and theories of human nature  

An excellent text book. A must for all students who are interested in criminology. Packed full of theories looking at psychological and sociological perspectives. Excellent self study task that provoke the mind. A must have for a students book collection.

Miss Sharron Stillyards
health and social care, northlindsey college
March 24, 2015

A good all round book, maybe a bit to general for specific policing courses. Better suited for wholly criminological courses. I was hoping it would be able to explore criminological theory in a more basic way.

Ms Allison Savory
Department of Social Sciences, Bucks New University
March 24, 2015

This is an excellent resource for students beginning their studies. Many students are initially intimidated by the subject and terminology of criminology and this book eases them in.

Mrs Caroline Knight
Children,Health, Adventure & Public Services, South Devon College
February 12, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 8: Postmodern Critical Standpoints and the Criminal Life Course

Preview this book

For instructors

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781446269879

ISBN: 9781446269862