ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the general outline of the metatheory. The macro-level, aggregate products of the behavior of many individuals are another matter entirely. Chaos theory in general and self-organized criticality, particularly, has some interesting lessons for criminology. There are already several chaos-based commentaries in the social sciences. Self-organized criticality theory, with its potential of explaining highly complex systems has not been used at all in criminology. A metatheory, or orienting perspective, broadly based on critical-incident assumptions suggests a different way of viewing reality. The existing approach, on the whole, is based on a composite of assumptions that incorporate linearity, proximate cause, an emphasis on quantitative methodology, and a sociological bias. The focus on the individual thus far is not meant to diminish the importance of social reaction. The social world transcends the effects of social characteristics, biological and genetic makeup, and physical environment.