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Criminological Theories

Introduction, Evaluation, and Application

Seventh Edition

Ronald L. Akers, Christine S. Sellers, and Wesley G. Jennings

Publication Date - July 2016

ISBN: 9780190455163

464 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $72.95

A concise yet comprehensive review and appraisal of the leading theories of crime


With a focus on empirical evaluation and practical application, Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Application, Seventh Edition, helps students draw connections between criminological theory and practical applications. In clear, engaging language, authors Ronald L. Akers, Christine S. Sellers, and Wesley G. Jennings explore each principal criminological theory using a three-part analysis:

An Introduction presents a succinct exposition of the theory's central concepts, assertions, and hypotheses

An Evaluation provides a detailed critique of the theory, with an emphasis on empirical validity

An Application extends the evaluation to determine each theory's relevance and its potential for controlling and preventing crime and delinquency

New to this Edition

  • Revisions and updates throughout, in every chapter
  • A new chapter: Developmental and Life-Course Theories (Chapter 14)
  • Substantial updates to Chapter 2. Deterrence and Rational Choice Theories and Chapter 15. Integrating Criminological Theories
  • Increased coverage of Biosocial Theories (Chapter 3)

About the Author(s)

Ronald L. Akers is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law at the University of Florida.

Christine S. Sellers is Professor and Director of the School of Criminal Justice at Texas State University.

Wesley G. Jennings is Associate Professor, Associate Chair, and Undergraduate Director of the Department of Criminology at the University of South Florida.

Previous Publication Date(s)

October 2012
March 2008
August 2003


"Criminological Theories, Seventh Edition, is an excellent, comprehensive textbook with good examples and succinct summaries. It's a tour de force of theory textbooks."--Liena Gurevich, Hofstra University

"This is the most informative criminological theory text I've come across."--Brianna Remster, Villanova University

"This book is extremely well written. The authors do a very good job of conveying complex information in a straightforward manner."--Robert Worley, Lamar University

Table of Contents

    Each chapter ends with a Summary.
    Chapter 1. Introduction to Criminological Theory
    What Is Theory?
    Types of Criminological Theories
    Theories of Making and Enforcing Criminal Law
    Theories of Criminal and Deviant Behavior
    Criteria for Evaluating Theory
    Logical Consistency, Scope, and Parsimony
    Empirical Validity
    Usefulness and Policy Implications
    Theory and Ideology
    Emphasis on Empirical Validity and Application of Theories
    Chapter 2. Deterrence and Rational Choice Theories
    Classical Criminology and the Deterrence Doctrine
    Deterrence: Certainty, Severity, and Celerity of Punishment
    Modern Deterrence Theory
    Studies of Deterrence
    Do Criminal Sanctions Deter?
    Deterrence and Experiential Effects
    Modifications and Expansions of Deterrence Concepts
    Rational Choice Theory
    Deterrence and Expected Utility
    Research on Rational Choice Theory
    Deterrence and Criminal Justice Policy
    Scared Straight, Shock Incarceration, and Boot Camps
    Routine Activities Theory
    Felson and Cohen: Offenders, Targets, and Guardians
    Empirical Validity of Routine Activities Theory
    Routine Crime Prevention and Precautions
    Chapter 3. Biological and Biosocial Theories
    Lombroso and Early Biological Theories
    Lombroso's Theory of the Born Criminal
    The Criminal as Biologically Inferior
    Recognizing the Inadequacies of Early Biological Theories
    Modern Biological and Biosocial Theories of Crime and Delinquency: Interaction of Biological and Environmental Variables
    Neurobiological Approaches to Crime
    Genetically Transmitted Criminal Susceptibility: Behavioral and Molecular Genetics
    Evolutionary Psychology and Criminality
    Empirical Validity of Biological Theories of Criminal Behavior
    Policy Implications of Biological Theories
    Chapter 4. Psychological Theories
    Psychoanalytic Theory
    Personality Theory
    Personality Traits
    The Psychopathic Personality
    The Five-Factor Model
    Psychological Counseling in Delinquency Prevention and Treatment
    Chapter 5. Social Learning Theory
    Sutherland's Differential Association Theory
    Akers's Social Learning Theory
    Development of the Theory
    The Central Concepts and Propositions of Social Learning Theory
    The Social Learning Process: Sequence and Feedback Effects
    Social Structure and Social Learning
    Empirical Validity of Social Learning Theory
    Research on Relationship of Criminal and Delinquent Behavior to Social Learning Variables
    Research on Social Learning in the Family and Delinquency
    Research on Peers and Group Contexts in Crime and Delinquency
    Research on Social Structure and Social Learning
    Applications of Social Learning Theory in Prevention and Treatment Programs
    Highfields and Essexfield
    The Pinehills Experiment
    The Teaching Family Model
    Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC)
    Andrews's Experiments and Model of Treatment and Prevention
    Meta-Analyses of Cognitive-Behavioral Programs
    Gang Resistance Education and Training
    Other Prevention Programs
    Chapter 6. Social Bonding and Control Theories
    Early Control Theories
    Reiss's and Nye's Theories of Internal and External Controls
    Reckless's Containment Theory
    Sykes and Matza: Techniques of Neutralization and Drift
    Hirschi's Social Bonding Theory
    The Central Concepts and Propositions of Social Bonding Theory
    Empirical Validity of Social Bonding Theory
    Gottfredson and Hirschi: Self-Control Theory
    Low Self-Control as the Cause of Criminal Behavior
    What Is the Relationship Between Self-Control Theory and Social Bonding Theory?
    Testability of Self-Control Theory
    Research Indirectly and Directly Testing Self-Control Theory
    Hirschi's Social Bonding Modifications of Self-Control Theory
    Policy Implications of Control Theories
    Social Bonding Elements in the Social Development Model
    Policy Implications of Self-Control Theory
    Chapter 7. Labeling and Reintegrative Shaming Theory
    Labeling as a Process of Symbolic Social Interaction
    The Label as an Independent Variable in Crime and Deviance
    Empirical Evidence on Labeling Theory
    Implications of Labeling Theory: Juvenile Diversion Programs
    Braithwaite's Reintegrative Shaming Theory
    Reintegrative Shaming, Restorative Justice, and Faith-Based Programs
    Applications of Restorative Justice
    Theory and Philosophy of Restorative Justice: Reintegration and Rehabilitation
    Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Programs
    The Past and Future of Labeling Theory
    Chapter 8. Social Disorganization Theory
    Early Statistical Studies of Crime
    Social Disorganization and the Urban Ecology of Crime and Delinquency
    Research on Social Structure and Crime Rates
    Restatements and Research on Social Disorganization Theory
    Code of the Street
    Community Projects and Policies Based on Theories of Social Disorganization
    The Chicago Area Projects
    Other Policy Implications of Social Disorganization Theory
    Chapter 9. Anomie and Strain Theories
    Classic Anomie/Strain Theories
    Merton's Theory of Social Structure and Anomie
    Cohen: Status Deprivation and the Delinquent Subculture
    Cloward and Ohlin: Differential Opportunity and Delinquent Subcultures
    Miller: Focal Concerns of Lower Class Culture
    Research on Classic Anomie/Strain Theories
    Are Crime and Delinquency Concentrated Among Lower Class and Minority Individuals?
    Gangs and Delinquent Subcultures
    School Dropout and Delinquency
    Perceived Discrepancy Between Aspirations and Expectations
    Contemporary Anomie/Strain Theories
    Messner and Rosenfeld's Institutional-Anomie Theory
    Agnew's General Strain Theory of Crime and Delinquency
    Programs Based on Anomie and Subcultural Theories
    The Boston Mid-City Project
    Mobilization for Youth
    Policy Implications of Contemporary Anomie/Strain Theories
    Chapter 10. Conflict Theory
    Law Is a Type of Social Control
    Consensus and Functionalist Theories of Law
    Conflict Theory of Law and Criminal Justice
    Empirical Validity of Consensus and Conflict Theories of Law and Criminal Justice
    Research on Legislation
    Research on Public Opinion on Crime and Criminal Justice
    Research on Social Threat
    Research on Extralegal Variables in Criminal Justice Decision Making
    Research on Racial Profiling
    Conflict Theory of Criminal Behavior
    Empirical Validity of Conflict Theory of Criminal Behavior
    Policy Implications of Conflict Theory
    Chapter 11. Marxist Theories
    Marxist Theory
    Marxist Theory of Law and Criminal Justice
    Instrumentalist and Structuralist Marxism
    Empirical Adequacy of Marxist Theory of Law and Justice
    Marxist Theory of Crime
    Bonger: Early Marxist Theory of Crime
    Quinney: Class, State, and Crime
    Modifications of Marxist Theory
    Is Crime the Result of a Capitalist Economy?
    Policy Implications of Marxist Theory
    Chapter 12. Radical and Critical Theories
    Henry and Milovanovic: Constitutive Criminology
    Left Realism
    Cultural Criminology
    Peacemaking Criminology
    Chapter 13. Feminist Theories
    Feminist Theories of Criminal Justice
    Empirical Validity of Feminist Theories of Criminal Justice
    Feminist Theories of Crime
    Women's Liberation and Female Crime
    Patriarchal Society and Crime
    Masculinities and Structured Action
    Gendered Pathways and Gendered Contexts
    Empirical Validity of Feminist Theories of Criminal Behavior
    Policy Implications of Feminist Theories
    Chapter 14. Developmental and Life-Course Theories
    Age and Crime
    Criminal Careers
    Developmental and Life-Course Theories of Crime
    Moffitt's Developmental Taxonomy
    Loeber's Developmental Pathways Model
    Gottfredson and Hirschi's Self-Control Theory
    Sampson and Laub's Age Graded Theory of Informal Social Control
    Giordano's Life-Course Perspective on Social Learning
    Farrington's Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential Theory
    Policy Implications of Developmental and Life-Course Theories
    Chapter 15. Integrating Criminological Theories
    Theory Competition Versus Theory Integration
    Varieties of Theoretical Integration in Criminology
    Conceptual Integration
    Akers: Integration by Conceptual Absorption
    Cullen and Colvin: Social Support and Coercion
    Propositional Integration 284
    Elliott's Integrative Model of Strain, Bonding, and Learning
    Krohn's Network Analysis
    Thornberry's Interactional Theory
    Tittle's Control Balance Theory
    How Successful Has Theoretical Integration Been in Criminology?
    Author Index
    Subject Index

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