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NCJ Number: 51573 Find in a Library
Title: EARLY THEORIES OF FEMALE CRIMINALITY (FROM WOMEN, CRIME, AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, 1978, BY LEE H BOWKER SEE NCJ-51572)
Author(s): J POLLOCK
Corporate Author: Lexington Books
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 31
Sponsoring Agency: Lexington Books
New York, NY 10022
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A CHRONOLOGICAL REVIEW OF THE MAJOR STUDIES ON FEMALE CRIME IS PRESENTED, WITH EMPHASIS ON THE TENDENCY OF THEORISTS TO SIMPLIFY CAUSALITY AND TO RELY ON STEREOTYPES WHEN DEALING WITH FEMALE CRIMINALITY.
Abstract: THE FIRST STAGE OF RESEARCH ON FEMALE CRIMINALITY WAS THE PRESCIENTIFIC STAGE, WHICH CONTINUED UP UNTIL THE 20TH CENTURY. THE FEW THINGS WRITTEN ABOUT FEMALE CRIMINALITY DURING THIS PERIOD CONCENTRATED ON ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES, BUT WOMEN GENERALLY WERE NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY AS CRIMINALS AND WERE NOT CONSIDERED WORTHY OF THE ATTENTION OF RESEARCHERS. THE NEXT STAGE, IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY, CONSISTED OF STUDIES CONCERNED WITH PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DETERMINANTS OF CRIME, AND THE STUDIES DONE BY A GROUP CALLED 'THE AMERICAN STATISTICIANS.' IN THE 1930'S, THE THIRD STAGE COMBINED CONSTITUTIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES, AND IN THE 1940'S, RESEARCH TURNED TO 'NUMBERS AND OFFENSES,' STATISTICAL STUDIES OF CRIMES AND CRIMINALS. THE FIFTH STAGE FOCUSED ON WOMEN IN PRISON. IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT RESEARCH ON FEMALES HAS PARALLELED THEIR PLACE IN SOCIETY. THE HISTORY OF RESEARCH ON FEMALE CRIMINALITY REVOLVES AROUND THREE THEORISTS: CAESARE LOMBROSO, WHO EXEMPLIFIED THE EXTREME OF PSEUDOSCIENCE IN STUDIES ON WOMEN; W.I. THOMAS, WHO APPLIED A PSYCHOLOGICAL MODEL OF CRIME CONSISTENT WITH THE EMERGING GESTALT OF THE 1920'S AND 1930'S; AND OTTO POLLAK, WHOSE STUDY ON FEMALE CRIMINALS IN 1950 IS PROBABLY THE MOST AMBITIOUS WORK EVER COMPLETED ON THE SUBJECT. THE AMERICAN STATISTICIANS WERE ANOTHER MAJOR INFLUENCE. THE STUDIES OF THESE PREDOMINANTLY FEMALE STATISTICIANS PRECEDED ANY SERIOUS STATISTICAL INVESTIGATION OF MALE CRIMINALITY. MANY STUDIES ON FEMALE CRIMINALITY HAVE ATTEMPTED TO EXPLAIN WHY FEMALES SEEM TO COMMIT FEWER CRIMES THAN MALES. SOME THEORISTS BELIEVED THIS DIFFERENTIAL WAS DUE TO THE GREATER MORALITY OF WOMEN, WHILE OTHERS ATTRIBUTED IT TO THE BIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAITS OF FEMALES. WOMEN WERE THOUGHT TO COMMIT LESS CRIME BECAUSE OF THEIR PASSIVE NATURE AND THEIR ROLE IN SOCIETY. WOMEN WERE DEFINED PRIMARILY BY THEIR SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND WERE SEEN TO BE INFLUENCED BY PSYCHOLOGICAL OR BIOLOGICAL DRIVES TO A GREATER EXTENT THAN WERE MALES. THEORISTS REGARDED FEMALE CRIMINALITY AS LESS COMPLEX THAN MALE CRIMINALITY AND INCORPORATED STEREOTYPES AND MYTHS ABOUT WOMEN IN THEIR EXPLANATIONS. ONLY WHEN FEMALE CRIME RATES BEGAN TO RISE WAS SERIOUS ATTENTION DIRECTED TO THE SUBJECT. CONTEMPORARY FEMALE CRIMINOLOGISTS HAVE EXPOSED MANY MYTHS BY ANALYZING CLASSIC STUDIES FROM FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED--LKM)
Index Term(s): Crime Causes; Criminology; Female offenders; Male female offender comparisons; Offender statistics; Role perception
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51573

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