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The meaning of crime
The meaning of crime

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4.7 Summary

  • The social sciences have generated a range of explanations of criminal behaviour, running on a spectrum from overwhelmingly structural causes to overwhelmingly agency-driven causes.

  • Structural explanations locate the causes of criminality in abnormal or deviant biologies, pathological or problem families and deviant sub-cultures.

  • Agency-driven explanations, like rational choice theory, argue that crimes are an every-day experience whose origins begin and end with actors’ conscious choices, judgements and calculations in specific situations.

  • Given the range of crimes which exists it is unlikely that any one theory can deliver explanations of all criminal behaviour.