skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 221361 Find in a Library
Title: Advancing Science and Research in Criminal Justice/Criminology: Complex Systems Theory and Non-Linear Analyses
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:24  Issue:4  Dated:December 2007  Pages:555-581
Author(s): Jeffrey T. Walker
Date Published: December 2007
Page Count: 27
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This discussion calls into question the value of continuing to use traditional methods and analyses to examine complex human behavior and to present a new theoretical and methodological paradigm (or model) that, when combined with neighborhood-level analyses, provides a better method for examining neighborhood change and crime, resulting in a new criminological theory based on different methods and analyses, Ecodynamics Theory.
Abstract: Ecodynamics Theory is the combining of a complex systems paradigm with the variables that have become relatively standard in research on neighborhoods and crime representing a new way of examining human behavior criminologically. Possibly the greatest benefit of adopting an Ecodynamics Theory approach to examine neighborhoods and crime is because of how it allows crime to change roles at different times or within the same system. Crime in Ecodynamics Theory may be a dependent variable and the subject of study; but it may also serve as a cause of additional levels of disorder through feedback. The reason Ecodynamics Theory can deal effectively with crime in different natures is because it proposes that the same factors producing non-criminal behavior at one point in the system can produce criminal behavior at other points. For over a century, criminological research has been able to explain a consistently small amount of the variation in crime. It is possible that the problem with criminological theory is not the theory but in the analysis. Complex systems science (CSS) attempts to examine data in a different way, often making the most of error data discarded by linear analysis. This paper addresses the viability of using CSS in criminological research. An example is drawn from social disorganization theory to demonstrate the ability of CSS to explain crime at the neighborhood level. The result is a new theory, Ecodynamics Theory, developed by combining the elements of neighborhood research with complex systems analyses. Figures and references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Community conflict; Crime measurement; Criminal career patterns; Criminology theory evaluation; Ghettos; Theory
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.