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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200199 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Circumstance: A Dynamic Muticontextual Criminal Opportunity Theory
Author(s): Pamela Wilcox; Kenneth C. Land; Scott A. Hunt
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 261
Sponsoring Agency: Aldine de Gruyter Publishing Co
Hawthorne, NY 10532
Publication Number: ISBN: 0-202-30721-2
Sale Source: Aldine de Gruyter Publishing Co
Marketing Director
200 Saw Mill River Road
Hawthorne, NY 10532
United States of America
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book outlines an alternative, multicontextual criminal opportunity theory based on social control theory and routine activities theory.
Abstract: This theory emphasizes the importance of contextual explanations of crime by analyzing crime from two levels: the individual and the environmental. The theory is based on three organizing constructs: motivated offenders, suitable targets (persons or property), and the presence or absence of defense mechanisms capable to squelching the criminal behavior. The authors contend that it is important to develop a multicontextual approach to understanding criminal behavior because even the most compelling individual-level explanations of crime are incomplete without an examination of the environmental factors that helped shape the crime. The basic tenet of their multicontextual criminal opportunity theory holds that criminal acts can best be explained through an examination of criminal opportunities -- the circumstances that led to motivated offenders being in the same place at the same time as suitable targets, combined with the absence of effective defense mechanisms against crime. New methodologies (multilevel or hierarchical linear models) that facilitated in the examination of nested data enabled the emergence of the new theory by allowing the authors to study the interactive effects of the individuals committing crimes and the environments in which they commit them. The authors develop and explain their theory over the course of the ensuing chapters, beginning with a discussion of why criminal opportunity is a necessary condition for criminal acts and ending with an explanation of how their theory should influence public policy and practice. They discuss the details of how their theory emerged by integrating social control and routine activities theories and they offer evidence of both the main effects and the moderating effects that influence their theoretical perspective. The authors offer suggestions for empirically examining their theory by using methods such as two-level hierarchical regression models and cross-classified models. Additionally, while qualitative data were not used to develop the theory, ethnographic data and other types of qualitative data could be used to enhance and test the theory. Notes, references, index
Main Term(s): Crime causes theory
Index Term(s): Research methods; Routine activity theory; Social control theory; Statistical analysis
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