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Criminological Theory: Past to Present

Essential Readings

Sixth Edition

Francis T. Cullen, Robert Agnew, and Pamela Wilcox

Publication Date - November 2017

ISBN: 9780190639341

704 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

Retail Price to Students: $89.99

The most comprehensive overview of classic and contemporary theories of crime, edited by leading scholars in the discipline


Criminological Theory: Past to Present--Essential Readings is a comprehensive reader that exposes students to both classic and contemporary theories of crime. Editors Francis T. Cullen, Robert Agnew, and Pamela Wilcox provide accessible yet detailed introductions, preparing students for what they are about to read and placing each selection in context.

New to this Edition

  • A new section, Development and Crime Across the Life Course (Section 4)
  • New readings on legal cynicism theory, target search theory, multilevel opportunity theory, labeling theory, and situational action theory
  • A new Part XIV, Positive Criminology, in which the authors examine social support theory and social concern theory
  • A revised Part XV, How Black Lives Matter: Theoretical Developments
  • A revised Part XVII, Putting Theory to Work: Guiding Crime Control Policy


  • The authoritative, trusted editors include Frank Cullen and Robert Agnew, both honored as distinguished leaders in the field
  • Features fifty selections that capture the diversity of thinking on crime causation
  • Introductions to each part convey the central ideas of theoretical perspectives
  • Each reading closes with a list of Discussion Questions to test knowledge, to prompt critical evaluation of theories, and to guide classroom discussion
  • Reflects the development of criminological theory, presenting classic works first and contemporary theories later

About the Author(s)

Francis T. Cullen is Distinguished Research Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.

Robert Agnew is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Sociology at Emory University.

Pamela Wilcox is Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.


"Criminological Theory is a well-crafted collection of the seminal pieces of criminological theory. It brings together the major theoretical scholars and researchers to historically and conceptually introduce young, new scholars to the field. This is a book that every criminologist should have on his or her bookshelf."--Jessica M. Grosholz, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee

"Criminological Theory: Past to Present is a unique criminological theory reader: it tells the fascinating history of criminological theory in the broader context of the field. The text provides readers with fundamental information about each perspective coupled with original writings from the criminologists themselves. The writing style is captivating; the authors write about theory as if it were a story."--Kristin Swartz, University of Louisville

"Criminological Theory is an excellent overview of the major historical and contemporary contributors and theories in the field of criminology."--Addrain Conyers, Marist College

Table of Contents

    INTRODUCTION Understanding Criminological Theory: A Guide for Readers, Francis T. Cullen, Robert Agnew, and Pamela Wilcox
    Part I. The Origins of Modern Criminology
    1. An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, Cesare Beccaria
    2. The Criminal Man, Cesare Lombroso
    Part II. The Chicago School: The City, Social Disorganization, and Crime
    3. Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas, Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. McKay
    4. Collective Efficacy and Crime, Robert J. Sampson, Stephen W. Raudenbush, and Felton Earls
    5. Legal Cynicism and Crime, David S. Kirk and Andrew V. Papachristos
    Part III. Learning to Be a Criminal: Differential Association, Subcultural, and Social Learning Theories
    6. A Theory of Differential Association, Edwin H. Sutherland and Donald R. Cressey
    7. A Social Learning Theory of Crime, Ronald L. Akers
    8. The Code of the Street, Elijah Anderson
    Part IV. Anomie/Strain Theories of Crime
    9. Social Structure and Anomie, Robert K. Merton
    10. Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang, Albert K. Cohen
    11. Crime and the American Dream, Richard Rosenfeld and Steven F. Messner
    12. Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory, Robert S. Agnew
    Part V. Varieties of Control Theory
    13. Techniques of Neutralization, Gresham M. Sykes and David Matza
    14. Social Bond Theory, Travis Hirschi
    15. A General Theory of Crime, Michael R. Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi
    Part VI. Labeling Theory: Societal Reaction and the Creation of Criminals
    16. Crime, Shame, and Reintegration, John Braithwaite
    17. Defiance Theory, Lawrence W. Sherman
    18. Making Good, Shadd Maruna
    Part VII. Critical Criminology: Power, Peace, and Crime
    19. Criminality and Economic Conditions, Willem Bonger
    20. Crime in a Market Society, Elliott Currie
    21. Crime and Coercion, Mark Colvin
    Part VIII. Feminist Theories: Gender, Power, and Crime
    22. Sisters in Crime, Freda Adler
    23. A Feminist Theory of Female Delinquency, Meda Chesney-Lind
    24. Masculinities and Crime, James W. Messerschmidt
    25. Getting Played, Jody Miller
    Part IX. Theories of White-Collar Crime
    26. White-Collar Criminality, Edwin H. Sutherland
    27. Denying the Guilty Mind, Michael L. Benson
    Part X. Reviving Classical Theory: Deterrence and Rational Choice Theories
    28. Reconceptualizing Deterrence Theory, Mark C. Stafford and Mark Warr
    29. Crime as a Rational Choice, Derek B. Cornish and Ronald V. Clarke
    30. Armed Robbers in Action, Richard T. Wright and Scott H. Decker
    Part XI. Environmental Criminology
    31. Routine Activity Theory, Lawrence E. Cohen and Marcus Felson
    32. The Theory of Target Search, Paul J. Brantingham and Patricia L. Brantingham
    33. Defensible Space, Oscar Newman
    34. Multilevel Criminal, Pamela Wilcox, Brooke Miller Gialopsos, and Kenneth C. Land
    Part XII. Growing Up Criminal: Trait and Biosocial Theories
    35. Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency, Sheldon Glueck and Eleanor Glueck
    36. Biology and Crime, Melissa Peskin, Yu Gao, Andrea L. Glenn, Anna Rudo-Hutt, Yaling Yang, and Adrian Raine
    37. Personality and Crime: Are Some People Crime Prone?, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie E. Moffitt, Phil A. Silva, Magda Stouthamer-Loeber, Robert F. Krueger, and Pamela S. Schmutte
    Part XIII. Getting Into and Out of Crime: Life-Course Theories
    38. Pathways in the Life Course to Crime, Terrie E. Moffitt
    39. A Theory of Persistent Offending and Desistance from Crime, John H. Laub and Robert J. Sampson
    40. The Feared Self: An Identity Theory of Desistance, Raymond Paternoster and Shawn Bushway
    Part XIV. Positive Criminology
    41. Social Support and Crime, Francis T. Cullen
    42. Social Concern and Crime, Robert Agnew
    Part XV. How Black Lives Matter: Theoretical Developments
    43. A Theory of Race, Crime, and Urban Inequality, Robert J. Sampson and William Julius Wilson
    44. Imprisoned Communities: Coerced Mobility Theory, Todd C. Clear
    45. A Theory of African American Offending, James D. Unnever and Shaun L. Gabbidon
    Part XVI. Pulling It All Together: Integrated Theories of Crime
    46. Why Criminals Offend: A General Theory of Crime and Delinquency, Robert Agnew
    47. Situational Action Theory, Per-Olof H. Wikstr:om
    Part XVII. Putting Theory to Work: Guiding Crime Control Policy
    48. Broken Windows, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling
    49. Situational Crime Prevention, Ronald V. Clarke
    50. Saving Children from a Life in Crime, David Farrington and Brandon C. Welsh

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