ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the most basic of the rationales for the popularity of theory. Theorists rarely explain the background of the theories they develop. Every new perspective needs to show that it is “better” than the old, and the easiest way to do this is to reconstruct a negative version of the old theory using the perspective and language of the new one, thereby decreasing its popularity. The rationale for these comments on reinterpretation lies primarily with Alvin Gouldner’s work on domain assumptions which served to precipitate discussion on the unstated assumptions behind many theoretical perspectives. Theories are not just pronouncements about how crime and criminals happen, they are also a part of one’s scholarly identity. It is this tendency that, combined with dualistic thought, helps set theories up as competing entities. In actuality, very few criminological theories find themselves in direct competition because they attempt to explain different parts of the crime/criminal dilemma.