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Criminal Careers / Developmental / Life-course Criminology Troubles of Youth 17 th November 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Criminal Careers / Developmental / Life-course Criminology Troubles of Youth 17 th November 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Criminal Careers / Developmental / Life-course Criminology Troubles of Youth 17 th November 2008

2 Lecture Outline 4 (groups of) theorists and writers – Gottfredson and Hirschi – David Farrington – Terrie Moffitt – Sampson and Laub Differences – Persistent Heterogeneity v State dependency – Explanations for Biological / Social/ Psychological – Data Used

3 Gottfredson and Hirschi “A General Theory of Crime” Invariant age-crime curve – No need to invest in investigating age patterns A General Theory of All Crime – “acts of force or fraud undertaken in the pursuit of self- interest …. provid(ing) immediate, easy, and certain short- term pleasure” Persistent Heterogeneity / propensity caused by Low-Self Control Explains Onset, Desistance and Length of Career and social correlates of crime (e.g. low engagement at school; marriage; employment) Established early in life (before age of 5)

4 Critique of Gottfredson and Hirschi Tautological – Crime is defined as short-term, easy, self- interested, lacking self-control action: it is no surprise that lack of self-control becomes a predictor – Based on individual, mainly cross-sectional research Theory -> methodology -> theory Need Longitudinal research to address the possibility of crime turning points Ignores the diversity of crime

5 The Cambridge Study The Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development Headed by Prof David Farrington Prospective longitudinal survey addressing development of offending and antisocial behaviour in 411 males in a working class inner city area of South London First contacted 1961–62 Over 150 publications using the data

6 Farrington’s Theory Offending is the end point of a 4 stage process energizing – long term: desires for material good, status and excitement – short term: boredom, frustration, anger and alcohol consumption directing – how these factors are directed is important: habitually choosing socially disapproved methods leads to delinquency – strain theories (not just material strain) inhibiting – scripts of conformity and deviance: internalized beliefs constructed through social learning, due to rewards and punishments, along with empathy decision making – the situational position of an individual in his environment – perceptions of cost and benefits: costs include disapproval by significant others

7 Individual Risk Factors (of Onset) Personality Temperament Empathy Impulsiveness Cognition

8 Family Risk Factors Criminal and Antisocial Parents Large Family Size Child-rearing methods Child Abuse and Neglect Parental Conflict and Disruption School Risk Factors Characteristics of Schools Low Intelligence and Attainment

9 Multi-collinearity Problem: huge overlap and interrelationships between factors Independent predictors: – impulsivity – intelligence / attainment – poor parenting – criminal family – socio-economic deprivation – child antisocial behaviour

10 Critique of Farrington Methodological Logic looks for variation between individuals, to predict variation within individuals Focus on the individual Focus on onset: ignores desistance? (Not as deterministic as Gottfredson & Hirschi)

11 Critique of Farrington Factors – Methodology / Theory (?) ignores race and gender – Assumes consistent “effect” over time between individuals – Symptoms or Causes of offending? – Factors, not turning points: “critical moments?”

12 Critique of Farrington (2) Interpretation – Over-predictive Chronic offenders “might be identified with a reasonable accuracy at age 10” – False Positives: “Many are called: few are chosen” (MacDonald) OR The Robins paradox: ”antisocial behavior in children is one of the best predictors of antisocial behavior in adults, yet most antisocial children do not grow up to be antisocial adults (Robins 1978) – Prediction increasingly guiding criminal justice, and other youth interventions e.g. OASys, Youth Inclusion Projects

13 Terrie Moffitt(1993) 2 ‘types’ of offenders – Adolescence-Limited & Life-Course-Persistent (LCPs) – Addresses The Robins Paradox The uneven distribution of offending (e.g. 5% of known offenders accounting for 50% of known offences) – Explanations / Etiology Parental nutrition/ toxicity -> Fetal Brain Development -> Low Birth Weight / Neuropsychological Capacity -> Impulsivity -> Antisocial behaviour Also parental provision of – criminogenic environments – Socialisation patterns


15 Criticisms of Moffitt LCPs also usually desist (she agrees!) Etiological Basis More than 2 types Still ‘(relatively) persistent heterogeneity’

16 Developmental Pathways Life characterised as a series of points of change / transitions – Focus on ‘Rites of passage’ in transitions – Time and Ordering of events important in determining their impact (e.g. impact of becoming a parent)

17 Sampson and Laub (1) Methodology tending towards “childhood determinism” – “It is all too common for caterpillars to become butterflies and then maintain that in their youth they were little butterflies” (George Valliant, 2002) – Start with adult offenders, you will find childhood deviance – However, start with childhood deviants, you will find a variety of pathways – Methodological problems confounded by cultural beliefs about childhood

18 Sampson and Laub (2) Followed up participants in Glueck & Glueck’s classic study “Unravelling Juvenile Delinquency” 500 men aged c. 70; born Boston, 1920’s & 1930s Balance between “reductionism” (focusing on variables) and “wholism” (focusing on cases)

19 Sampson & Laub (3) “Turning points” are key: changes in life circumstances (e.g. jobs, marriage, fatherhood) Desistance can be a conscious, or unconscious decision Desistance draws on structured routines, social bonds, formal and informal supervision What is different about persistent offenders? – Not one factor – A life characterised by instability and chaos – Dangers of over-determinism over-predictive self-fulfilling prophecy stigmatising

20 Key References Piquero, A. R., Farrington, D. P. and Blumstein, A. (2007) Key Issues in Criminal Career Research: New Analyses of the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Farrington, D. P., Coid, J. W., Harnett, L., Jolliffe, D., Soteriou, N., Turner, R. and West, D. J. (2006) Criminal Careers up to age 50 and Life Success up to age 48: New Findings from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. London: Home Office (Home Office Research Study No. 299). Gottfredson, M., & Hirschi, T (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Hirschi, T, & Gottfredson. M. (1983). Age and the explanation of crime. American Journal of Sociology, 89, 552 ‑ 584. Homel, R (2005) ‘Developmental Crime Prevention ‘in Tilley, N (2005) Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety, Cullompton, Willan Publiching Laub, John, H. and Robert J. Sampson (2003) Shared beginnings, divergent lives: Delinquent boys to age 70. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Moffitt, T (1993) Adolescence-Limited and Life-course Persistent Antisocial Behaviour: A Developmental Taxonomy; Psychological Review, Vol 100 No 4 Robert J. Sampson and Laub, John H. (2005) A Life-Course View of the Development of Crime, The Annals of the American Academy, AAPSS, 602

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