chapter  4
12 Pages

A Propensity-Event Theory of Crime

WithMichael Gottfredson, Travis Hirschi

This chapter attempts to a theory of crime that acknowledges the ability of society to control crime without fundamental reconstruction of itself or the individuals within it. Theories of criminality are likely to be faulty unless they explicitly take into account the slippage between propensity and action; theories of crime are likely to be faulty unless they properly estimate the role of the “criminal” in such activities. Explication of the sources and consequences of this propensity is the specific task of a theory of criminality. Theories of criminality should tell us why some people are more prone than other people to commit crimes. Crimes are short-term, circumscribed events that presuppose a peculiar set of necessary conditions. An increasingly obvious shortcoming of criminology is that it lacks a general theory to guide social policy in the area of crime treatment and prevention.