chapter  8
20 Pages

Theory, Pseudotheory, and Metatheory

WithJoan McCord

Psychoanalytic theory and labeling theory come to mind. Theories about the causes of crime come in as many flavors as cheeses. Hard theories decorate research results, as parmesan, adding flavor as well as interest. “Hard” theories successfully describe the particular sets of events for which they have been designed. Newer “hard” theories presuppose other facts to suggest causes of crime. One of the more enduring “fresh” theories about the causes of crime implicates broken homes. Other “fresh” theories, like the theory that broken homes lead to crime, have been viewed within too narrow a context. “Soft” theories spread into criminology after attaining a degree of acceptance as explanations for noncriminal behavior. Semihard theories, like a fontina, have the advantage of versatility. The new metatheories are likely to improve predictions, if for no other reason than that they involve more variables than simple theories do.