Criminology Theories

I. Introduction

The scientific study of the causes of delinquency and crime has been historically guided by theory. A good theory is said to provide a foundational lens through which to interpret and understand the manifestation of a behavior. In the field of criminology, the theoretical lens has been primarily guided by concepts germane to the fields of sociology, psychology, and biology, and the behavior to be explained is typically behavior that violates the codified laws of our society (i.e., crime and delinquency). Although isolated theories have provided empirical insight into the important factors perceived and expected to explain delinquency and crime, no single theory can adequately explain all types of crime and delinquency or all of the variation in crime and delinquency. In response to the absence of a “magic bullet” theory, scholars have begun to integrate theories in hopes of explaining a greater proportion of delinquency and crime. Theoretical integration generally involves borrowing theoretical constructs from competing theories and combining them into a single theory. Integrating theories within criminology is particularly advantageous because it allows scholars to begin to understand the behavior under study in a more complex, and potentially more complete, manner.

Criminology Theories

The purpose of this research paper is to present information on the topic of theoretical integration and take the reader through the following logical road map of the knowledge base surrounding integrated theories.

  • The research paper begins with a brief discussion of the history and rationale for integrating theories. Although brief, it is meant to provide some context within this section about how and why integrated theories have developed.
  • Criminology TheoriesSecond, information on several different types of integrated theories that have emerged over the past few decades are provided: The theory and theoretical assumptions of the theory are presented, and it is shown how the theory is an integration of multiple theories or multiple concepts. It should be noted that the purpose of this section isn’t meant to be exhaustive; instead, the intent is to provide the reader with a level of specificity as to how criminological theories have been integrated.
  • Third, using the discussion in the previous section, some of the many policy implications that have (or might have) emerged as a result of integrating theories are presented. Fourth, information relating to several of the critiques surrounding theoretical integration is provided, with a discussion about how these assessments have redefined the topic. The research paper closes with an excerpt on what the future might hold in terms of further elaboration of complex integrated theories.