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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 99571 Find in a Library
Title: Methodology of Theory Construction in Criminology (From Theoretical Methods in Criminology, P 23-54, 1985, Robert F Meier, ed. - See NCJ-99570)
Editor(s): R F Meier
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter distinguishes the characteristics of the discursive and formal modes for constructing criminological theory and assesses three criminological theories in accordance with the features of these modes.
Abstract: A mode is defined as 'a set of rules as to a theory's form.' The discursive mode is said to use the conventions of a natural language (such as German or English). The formal mode, on the other hand, uses rules for stating theories, some of which transcend natural language conventions. In discussing some elementary components of a formal mode for constructing criminological theory, the paper considers types of terms, types of statements, rules of deduction, and the tests of a theory. Some limits of formal modes of theory construction are noted as they relate to criminology's central questions. Sutherland's theory of criminality, Merton's theory of anomie and deviance, and Hirschi's control theory are reviewed to identify their formal and discursive features. This assessment is intended as a step toward a formal restatement of these theories, although such restatements are beyond the chapter's scope. The central argument is that formal theory construction facilitates defensible tests of theories; however, criminologists shold retain the discursive mode of theory construction if they are unwilling to have their theories tested as to predictive power. Six notes and 26 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Criminology; Prediction; Regulations; Theory
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