Early development of crime causation theories
Introduction This chapter addresses the historical development of criminological theory. Just as criminal behaviors have evolved with time (see Chapter 2), so too has society’s understanding of its causes. A few key points set the context for this chapter:
• Predominant explanations of crime have varied over time. • The history of criminological thought can be roughly divided into four eras: presci-
entic, classical, positivist, and postmodern. • While these eras represent key changes in the prevailing explanations of criminal
behavior across time, the eras are not clearly demarcated-to a greater or lesser extent, the core beliefs developed in each era continue to shape discussions of crime and crime causation.