Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

History of Criminological Theories: Causes of Crime

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_547



For thousands of years, mankind has developed and applied vague or specific thoughts about what behavior should be labeled as criminal, who the criminals are, and what the causes of crime may be. Philosophers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century put forward the rational criminal who is free to make choices and criticized the cruel and unjust criminal justice system. The scientific study of crime started in the beginning of nineteenth century with mathematicians searching for empirical regularities between countries and areas in administrative governmental data. Sociologists, psychologists, and physicians introduced societal and individual causes of crime in a comprehensive way. Later, new developments in other disciplines triggered new thoughts on the causes of crime, notably strain, control, and cultural theories. These have been dominant for about many decades,...

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The author wants to thank professor Sally Simpson (Maryland) and professor Lieven Pauwels (Ghent) for their helpful comments on a previous draft.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)AmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands