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Cover

Why Do Criminals Offend?

A General Theory of Crime and Delinquency

Robert Agnew

Publication Date - August 2004

ISBN: 9780195330465

246 pages
Paperback
6 x 9 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $62.95

Renowned criminologist Robert Agnew draws on a broad range of crime theories and the latest research to present a general theory of crime and delinquency, rich with student-accessible examples.

Description

This book focuses on what is probably the most frequently asked question about crime: Why do criminals offend? Renowned criminologist Robert Agnew draws on a broad range of crime theories and the latest research to present a general theory of crime and delinquency, rich with student-accessible examples. The general theory integrates the essential arguments from social learning, social control, self-control, strain, labeling, social support, bio-psychological, and other theories. And it draws on the latest research examining the relationship between crime, individual traits, and the social environment--including family, school, peer, and work environments.

Agnew's general theory is concise and written at a level readily accessible to undergraduates. It provides a good sense of the major causes of crime and how they mutually influence and interact with one another to affect crime. Key points are illustrated with examples from qualitative and quantitative research, and each chapter ends with a set of thought-provoking discussion questions.

While the book focuses on explaining why some individuals are more likely than others to offend, the general theory is also used to explain group differences in crime rates and patterns of offending over the life course. Further, the theory is used to evaluate current efforts to control crime and suggest new crime control initiatives.

Reviews

"This is a brilliant integrative book.... [It is] an outstanding contribution to criminological theory and knowledge.... The writing style is excellent: clear, interesting, and informative."--David Farrington, University of Cambridge

"This book is a major contribution to the discipline.... Extremely well written and engaging."--Alex R. Piquero, University of Florida

"This is an outstanding book. It is logical in its organization, clearly articulated, empirically informed, and brilliant in its depth of scholarship.... This book should be required reading for anyone interested in the study of crime and criminals."--John Wright, University of Cincinnati

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: A General Theory of Crime and Delinquency
    Why I Wrote This Book and What I Hope to Accomplish
    The Questions a General Theory of Crime Must Answer
    A General Theory That Answers These Questions Runs the Risk of Being Too Complex
    My Approach to Constructing a General Theory of Crime
    What the Theory Is Designed to Explain
    Testing and Applying the Theory
    Acknowledgments: The General Theory Is Built on the Work of Numerous Others
    Conclusion
    Discussion and Study Questions
    2. Crime Is Most Likely When the Constraints Against Crime Are Low and the Motivations for Crime Are High
    Constraints Against Crime
    The Motivations for Crime
    Long-lasting and Situational Constraints and Motivations
    Is Crime Influenced by Factors Other Than Constraints and Motivations?
    Conclusion
    Discussion and Study Questions
    3. A Range of Individual and Social Variables Affect the Constraints
    Against and the Motivations for Crime
    The Dominant Strategy for Grouping the Causes of Crime Into a Smaller Number of Categories
    An Alternative Strategy for Grouping the Causes of Crime Into a Smaller Number of Categories
    The Key Variables in the Five Life Domains
    The Relative Importance of the Life Domains at Different Stages in the Life Course
    Conclusion
    Discussion and Study Questions
    4. The Web of Crime: The Life Domains Affect One Another, Although Some Effects Are Stronger Than Others
    The Effects of the Self (Irritability and Low Self-Control) on the Other Life Domains
    The Effect of the Family (Poor Parenting and No/Bad Marriages) on the Other Life Domains
    The Effect of School (Negative School Experiences and Limited Education) on the Other Life Domains
    The Effect of Peers (Peer Delinquency) on the Other Life Domains
    The Effect of Work (Unemployment and Bad Jobs) on the Other Life Domains
    Summary: The Effects of the Life Domains on One Another Over the Individual's Life
    Conclusion
    Discussion and Study Questions
    5. Crime Affects Its 'Causes' and Prior Crime Affects Subsequent Crime
    The Effect of Crime on the Life Domains
    The Direct Effect of Prior Crime on Subsequent Crime
    The Effect of Prior Crime on Subsequent Crime Depends on the Reaction to Crime and the Characteristics of the Criminal
    Summary
    Discussion and Study Questions
    6. The Causes of Crime Interact in Affecting Crime and One Another
    The Core Propositions of the General Theory (Up to Now)
    The Causes of Crime Interact in Affecting Crime and One Another
    General Principle: A Cause Is More Likely to Lead to Crime When Other Causes Are Present
    Some Illustrative Interactions
    The Life Domains Interact in Affecting One Another
    Summary
    Discussion and Study Questions
    7. The Causes Tend to Have Contemporaneous and Nonlinear Effects on Crime and One Another
    Effects Are Largely Contemporaneous in Nature, Although Each Cause Has a Large, Lagged Effect on Itself
    Effects Are Nonlinear
    Summary
    Discussion and Study Questions
    8. The Life Domains Are Influenced by a Range of Outside Factors, Including Biological and Environmental Factors
    Outside Factors That Affect the Life Domains
    A Note on Larger Social and Cultural Influences
    An Overview of the General Theory of Crime
    Summary
    Discussion and Study Questions
    9. Using the General Theory to Explain Group Differences in Crime
    How Might the General Theory Explain Group Differences in Crime Rates
    Explaining Age Differences in Crime
    Explaining Sex Differences in Crime
    Explaining 'Life-Course Persistent' and 'Adolescent-Limited' Offending
    Summary
    Discussion and Study Questions
    10. Testing the General Theory
    Testing the Core Propositions of the General Theory
    Summary
    Discussion and Study Questions
    11. Recommendations for Controlling Crime
    How Effective Is the 'Get Tough' Approach to Controlling Crime?
    How to Make Arrest and Official Sanctions More Effective
    Rehabilitation and Prevention Programs
    Some General Guidelines for Rehabilitation and Prevention Programs
    12. The General Theory as an Integrated Theory of Crime
    Considers a Broad Range of Variables
    Considers a Broad Range of Intervening Mechanisms
    Groups the Specific Causes of Crime Into Clusters Organized by Life Domain
    Argues That the Life Domains Have Reciprocal Effects on One Another Which Vary Over the Life Course
    Argues That Crime Affects the Life Domains and That Prior Crime Affects Subsequent Crime
    Argues That the Life Domains Interact in Affecting Crime and One Another
    Argues That the Life Domains Have Nonlinear and Largely Contemporaneous
    Effects on Crime and One Another
    Argues That Biological Factors and the Larger Social Environment Affect the Life Domains
    Conclusion