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Choice Theory

choose to engage in delinquent and criminal behaviour after weighing the consequences and benefits of their actions

Classical Criminology

people have free will to choose criminal or conventional behaviours, people choose to commit crime for reasons of greed or personal need, and crime can be controlled only by the fear of criminal sanctions.

Specific Deterrence

criminal sanctions should be so powerful that offenders will never repeat their criminal acts

General Detterence

crime can be controlled by the threat of criminal punishment

Just Desert

those who violate the rights of others deserve punishment proportionate w/ the seriousness of the crime, w/o regard for their personal characteristics or circumstances

Trait Theory

Criminality is a product of abnormal biological and/or psychological traits

Contemporary Trait

don't believe 1 bio or psycho. Attribute explains all criminality, each offender is unique and must be diff. explanations for ea. person's behaviour.


human behaviour is motivated by inborn biological urges to survive and preserve the species

Cheater theory

subpopulation of men has evolved w/ genes that incline them toward extremely low parental involvement. Sexually aggressive, deceit for sexual conquest of as many females as possible.

Psychodynamic theory

(Freud) human personality is controlled by unconscious mental processes developed early in childhood, involving the interaction of id, ego, superego.

Behaviour theory

all human behaviour is learned through a process of social reinforcement (rewards and punishment)

Social learning theory

(Bandura) people learn to be aggressive by observing others acting aggressively to achieve some goal or being rewarded for violent acts.

Cognitive theory

mental processes- how people perceive and mentally represent the world around them and solve problems

Nature vs. Nurture theory

intelligence is largely determined genetically and low intelligence is linked to criminal behaviour vs. Intelligence is not inherited but is a product of environment. Low IQ scores don't cause crime, but may result from the same environmental factors

Culture of poverty

(Lewis) A separate lower-class culture, characterized by apathy cynicism, helplessness, mistrust of social institutions that is passed from one generation to another

Social structure theory

disadvantaged economic class position is a primary cause of crime

Social disorganization theory

urban conditions that affect crime rates: breakdown of institutions such as the family, school and employment in inner city neighbourhoods.

Strain theory

Crime is a function of the conflict between people's goals and the means they can use to obtain them

General strain theory

multiple sources of strain interact w/ an indiv. emotional traits and responses to produce criminality

Cultural Deviance theory

strain and social disorganization together result in a unique lower-class culture that conflicts with conventional social norms.

Anomie theory

anomie results when socially defined goals (wealth and power) are universally mandated but access to legitimate means (job, education) is stratified by class, status


anomie pervades modern culture because the drive for material wealth dominates and undermines social and community values.

Social control theory

people commit crime when the forces that bind them to society are broken or weakened

Social reaction (labelling)

people become criminals when labelled as such and they accept the label as a personal identity

Differential association theory

people commit crime when their social learning leads them to perceive more definitions favouring crime than favouring conventional behavior

Primary deviance

norm violation or crime w/ little or no long-term influence on the violator.

Secondary Deviance

Comes to the attention of significant others or social control agents, who apply a negative label with long term consequences for the violators self-identity and social interactions.

Social conflict theory

Crime is a function of class conflict and power relations. Laws are created and enforced by those in power to protect their own interests.

Marxist theory

(Radical criminology) Crime is a product of the capitalist system

Instrumental Marxist

one who sees criminal law and the justice system as capitalist instruments for controlling the lower class.

Structural Marxist

law and justice system as means of defending/preserving the capitalist system.

Marxist feminism

explains both victimization and criminality among women in terms of gender inequality, patriarchy, and the exploitation of women under capitalism.

Integrated theory

Complex, multifactor theory that attempts to blend seemingly independent concepts into a coherent explanation of criminality

Developmental criminology

Examines changes in criminal careers over the life course.

Latent trait & Latent trait theory

Stable feature, characteristic property or condition such as defective intelligence or impulsive personality, that makes some people crime-prone over the life course.

Developmental theory

criminality is a dynamic process, influenced by social experiences, individual characteristics

General theory of crime

modifies social control theory by integrating concepts from biosocial, psychological routine activities and rational choice theories

Control balance theory

Developmental theory that attributes deviant and criminal behaviours to imbalances between the amount of control that the individual has over others and that others have over him or her

Social development model

Criminal behaviour patterns to childhood socialization and pro or anti social attachments over the life course.

Interactional theory

Criminal trajectories to mutual reinforcement between delinquents and significant others over the life course

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