Criminologist Theory

Criminologist Theory

S e v e n t h E d i t i o n

Frank P. Williams III Professor Emeritus,

California State University—San Bernardino

Marilyn D. McShane

330 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10013



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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Williams, Franklin P., author. | McShane, Marilyn D., author. Criminological theory / Frank P. Williams III, Professor Emeritus, California State University-San Bernardino, Marilyn D. McShane, University of Nevada-Reno. Seventh edition. | Boston : Pearson, [2016] | Includes index. LCCN 2016040819| ISBN 9780134558899 | ISBN 0134558898 LCSH: Criminology. LCC HV6018 .W48 2016 | DDC 364.2—dc23 LC record available at

ISBN-10: 0-13-455889-8 ISBN-13: 978-0-13-455889-9

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Preface vii

Chapter 1 IntroduCtIon 1 Introduction to Theory 1 What Is Good Theory? 3 Kinds of Theory 6 Social Context and Theory 8 Theory, Research, and Policy 9 A Note on Evidence, Theory, and Reality 10

Summary 10 • Questions and Weblinks 11 • Related Websites 11 • Bibliography 11

Section I the roots of Criminology

Chapter 2 the ClaSSICal SChool 13 Introduction 13 The Heritage of the School 13 The Perspective of the School 15 Classification of the School 17

Summary 18 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 19 • Questions and Weblinks 20 • Related Websites 21 • Bibliography 21 • Research Bibliography 21

Chapter 3 the PoSItIve SChool 25 Introduction 25 The Heritage of the School 26 The Perspective of the School 26 Classification of the School 30

Summary 30 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 31 • Questions and Weblinks 34 • Related Websites 35 • Bibliography 35 • Research Bibliography 37

Section II the Foundations of american Criminology

Chapter 4 the ChICago SChool 40 Introduction 40 The Heritage of the School 40 The Perspective of the School 42 Classification of the School 47

Summary 47 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 48 • Questions and Weblinks 50 • Related Websites 50 • Bibliography 50 • Research Bibliography 52

Chapter 5 dIFFerentIal aSSoCIatIon theory 55 Introduction 55



iv Contents

The Heritage of the Theory 55 The Theoretical Perspective 57 Classification of the Theory 60

Summary 60 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 61 • Questions and Weblinks 62 • Related Websites 62 • Bibliography 63 • Research Bibliography 64

Chapter 6 anomIe theory 65 Introduction 65 The Heritage of the Theory 66 The Theoretical Perspective 68 Classification of the Theory 70

Summary 70 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 71 • Questions and Weblinks 73 • Related Websites 74 • Bibliography 74 • Research Bibliography 75

Section III Building on the Foundation

Chapter 7 SuBCulture theorIeS 77 Introduction 77 The Heritage of the Theories 77 Cohen’s Subculture of Delinquency 79 Cloward and Ohlin’s Differential Opportunity Theory 81 Other Subculture Theories 84

Summary 86 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 87 • Questions and Weblinks 89 • Related Websites 89 • Bibliography 89 • Research Bibliography 90

Chapter 8 laBelIng theory 92 Introduction 92 The Heritage of the Theory 93 The Theoretical Perspective 94 Classification of the Theory 99

Summary 100 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 100 • Questions and Weblinks 103 • Related Websites 103 • Bibliography 103 • Research Bibliography 104

Section Iv modern Criminology

Chapter 9 ConFlICt theory 107 Introduction 107 The Heritage of the Theory 107 The Theoretical Perspective 108 Classification of the Theory 115

Summary 115 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 116 • Questions and Weblinks 118 • Related Websites 118 • Bibliography 118 • Research Bibliography 120



Contents v

Chapter 10 gender-BaSed theorIeS 122 Introduction 122 The Heritage of the Theory 122 The Theoretical Perspective 124 Classification of the Perspective 130 Policy Implications 131

Questions and Weblinks 131 • Related Websites 131 • Bibliography 132 • Research Bibliography 134

Chapter 11 SoCIal Control theory 136 Introduction 136 The Heritage of the Theory 137 The Theoretical Perspective 138 Classification of the Theory 143

Summary 143 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 144 • Questions and Weblinks 145 • Related Websites 146 • Bibliography 146 • Research Bibliography 147

Chapter 12 SoCIal learnIng theory 150 Introduction 150 The Heritage of the Theory 150 The Theoretical Perspective 151 Classification of the Theory 155

Summary 156 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 157 • Questions and Weblinks 158 • Related Websites 158 • Bibliography 158 • Research Bibliography 159

Chapter 13 ratIonal theorIeS 162 Introduction 162 The Heritage of the Theory 162 The Theoretical Perspective 163 Classification of the Theory 166

Summary 166 • Epilogue: Current Directions and Policy Implications 167 • Questions and Weblinks 168 Related Websites 168 • Bibliography 168 • Research Bibliography 169

Section v Contemporary Perspectives

Chapter 14 ContemPorary theorIeS oF ProCeSS 173 Introduction 173 The Heritage of Contemporary Theory 173 Modern Strain Theory 174 Modern Social Control Theory 175 Modern Developmental Theories 178

Summary 181 • Questions and Weblinks 181 • Related Websites 182 • Bibliography 182 • Research Bibliography 184



vi Contents

Chapter 15 ContemPorary IntegratIve and CrItICal theorIeS 191 Introduction 191 The Heritage of Contemporary Theory 192 Integrative Theories 194 Postmodern Theories 198 Conclusions 201

Questions and Weblinks 204 • Related Websites 204 • Bibliography 204 • Research Bibliography 206

Index 209





As its title implies, this book is about the major sociological theories of crime. While there are other approaches to the study of crime, since the 1920s, criminology has been oriented toward sociology. There is, however, some coverage of biological and psychological theories of crime and delinquency in the third chapter, and comments on the contributions of these perspectives are interspersed throughout, where appropriate. Nonetheless, we still intend the book to be represen- tative of what criminological theory has been because a course in criminological theory is mainly a course in history.

When we first developed the concept of this text, there was but one criminological theory text on the market and that one was 30 years old (George Vold’s Theoretical Criminology, pub- lished in 1958). Perhaps most importantly, there was no extant treatment of the importance of situating a theory in its own time and context in order to appreciate and understand its meanings and nuances. Thus, we set about to produce a text which, we hoped, would provide undergradu- ates with a brief but clear description of the most well-known criminological theories and simul- taneously include a method of understanding those theories. After that beginning in 1988, criminological theory texts have become commonplace and, it seems, almost all now discuss the context surrounding the development of the various theories. This is a good thing.

We continue to hear from students and colleagues who have used the first six editions that many graduate students find the text valuable as a primer or as a study guide in their theory classes and for studying for comprehensive exams. The research references included in this edi- tion are a valuable resource for a graduate student writing a research paper, thesis, or disserta- tion, or preparing for qualifying exams. As before, we have included updates in each of the chapters and a final chapter discussing current theory. The intent of the first edition was to focus on traditional theories, and we only briefly mentioned contemporary versions in the concluding chapter. In the second and third editions, we added chapters that summarized a number of new theoretical directions. However, as time goes on and theory testing and integration continues, we have found it necessary to split some of these concluding chapters into their own distinct theo- retical areas. In this edition, Chapter 14 covers contemporary social process approaches. Chapter 15 discusses the broader context of integrative theories as well as metatheory.

The format of the first six editions has been retained in most chapters. We include a discus- sion of the social and intellectual heritage of the theory, highlight and explain the perspective and major concepts of the theory, and summarize and list the theory’s major points. The lists of major points are intended to clarify earlier commentary and to demonstrate the logical connections among the various elements of each theory. The chapter summaries may also serve as review material for examinations. Graduate students may find the major points helpful in determining the background assumptions of the theories, comparing theories, and locating hypotheses for empirical testing. We realize that a discussion of a theory’s major concepts, major points, and then a summary is somewhat redundant but our own experience from 40 years of teaching the- ory to all levels of students is that it helps retention and understanding. Many of our students have told us that this is not merely our perception.

New to this editioN

• The bibliographies once again have been expanded to include a number of related sources that would be useful to those doing research in a particular theoretical area. These are called Research Bibliographies and they follow the general references section.

• In most chapters, we have included and updated brief biographies of the major theorists. We believe that it will interest the student to see the similarities and differences between the theorists’ careers and how becoming a criminologist is not always a deliberate or dedi- cated path.

• The chapter on gender-based theories has been expanded and updated to include research on the gender gap.



viii Preface

• The list of informative weblinks at the end of each chapter has been expanded and updated. In particular, the “Ted Talks” can be used for exercises in class, and other links for research- ing special assignments. Students are also encouraged to find relevant websites on their own.

• The examples of how theory can be seen and applied today have once again been updated to draw on current events and incidents from the news with which students might be familiar.

• The final chapter is now an overview of various contemporary theoretical perspectives and a commentary on issues in modern theory. In addition, some deleted materials from earlier editions have been returned, as per requests.

As in the earlier editions, we attempt in most chapters to provide a classification of the theoreti- cal perspective. These areas of the book continue to draw the most discussion. In one sense, we find this appropriate. There are so many methods of classifying theories that it is inevitable that instructors and others who use the text would find some conflict with their own positions. Rather than hide such conflicts, we believe it is more instructive to bring them out into the open for students. Thus, we continue to provide theory classifications and encourage instructors to tell students how and why their approaches differ from ours.

And as always, we welcome any feedback on the book. The numerous versions of each form of theory, as well as the various perspectives on them, make critical commentary inevitable. Since this book is designed primarily to be used, we invite readers, students, and teachers alike to provide us with their ideas on how to make it even more useful. We feel very fortunate that we were able to acquire firsthand the comments and advice of some of the original authors of the theories. Our sincere gratitude and heartfelt appreciation goes out to the many distinguished criminologists, some of whom are no longer with us, who patiently offered us their insights and commentary. At this point, we also realize the special nature of opportunities that will never again occur with many who helped us place things in context (frequently over beer or wine at a conference bar, or in the case of the late Leslie Wilkins, a large glass of breakfast gin). We would also like to thank our reviewers Addrain Convers, Marist College; John Curra, School of Justice Studies/College of Justice & Safety/Eastern Kentucky University; Susan Hodge, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and Adam Trahan, University of North Texas. We would especially like to recognize the continued support and guidance of scholars and colleagues Freda Adler, Ron Akers, Jeff Ferrell, Mark Hamm, Rob Mutchnick, Hal Pepinsky, and Frank Scarpitti. Addi- tionally, we would be remiss not to remember and express our appreciation for the wonderful conversations we had with our late colleagues Al Cohen, Sy Dinitz, Gil Geis, Ray Jeffery, Al Reiss, and Austin Turk. Finally, thanks are also in order to those who used our text in their classes and provided us commentary, or otherwise helped with their ideas and thoughts, includ- ing a number of very bright students and colleagues. And as is Richard Quinney, we are once again grateful to the Lone Ranger (some of you will have an idea of how many beers have gone under that particular bridge).

iNstRUCtoR sUPPLeMeNts Instructor’s Manual with Test Bank. Includes content outlines for classroom discussion, teaching suggestions, and answers to selected end-of-chapter questions from the text. This also contains a Word document version of the test bank.

TestGen. This computerized test generation system gives you maximum flexibility in creating and administering tests on paper, electronically, or online. It provides state-of-the-art features for viewing and editing test bank questions, dragging a selected question into a test you are creating, and printing sleek, formatted tests in a variety of layouts. Select test items from test banks included with TestGen for quick test creation, or write your own questions from scratch. Test- Gen’s random generator provides the option to display different text or calculated number values each time questions are used.

PowerPoint Presentations. Our presentations are clear and straightforward. Photos, illustrations, charts, and tables from the book are included in the presentations when applicable.



ALteRNAte VeRsioNs eBooks This text is also available in multiple eBook formats. These are an exciting new choice for students looking to save money. As an alternative to purchasing the printed textbook, students can purchase an electronic version of the same content. With an eTextbook, students can search the text, make notes online, print out reading assignments that incorporate lecture notes, and bookmark important passages for later review. For more information, visit your favorite online eBook reseller or visit

Trey Williams and Marilyn McShane

Preface ix



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