Essential Criminology

Essential Criminology

Essential Criminology

Essential Criminology


Designed as an alternative to overly comprehensive, lengthy, and expensive introductory texts, Essential Criminology is, as its title implies, a concise overview of the field. The book guides students through the various definitions of crime and the different ways crime is measured. It then covers the major theories of crime, from individual-level, classical, and rational choice to biological, psychological, social learning, social control, and interactionist perspectives. The more sociocultural theories, beginning with social ecology theory and moving on to strain/subcultural theory, conflict, Marxist, and anarchist approaches, are also treated. In the last chapter, Mark Lanier and Stuart Henry examine new directions in criminology, including left realist, feminist, postmodern/constitutive, and integrative theory. Among the several unique, student-friendly features in Essential Criminology are an original, integrated, prismatic definition of crime; "equal time" examples from both white-collar (suite) and conventional (street) crime; chapter-by-chapter discussion of criminal justice policy implications; summary empirical research charts for each of the theories; and summary concept tables.


On the surface, this is a book about crime and criminality. It is about how we study crime, how we explain crime, how we determine who is—and is not—criminal, and how to reduce the harm caused by crime. It is also a book about difference. Crime is something we know all about—or do we? You may see crime differently from your parents and even your peers. You may see your own behavior as relatively acceptable, apart from a few minor rule violations here and there. But real crime? That's what others do—criminals, right? You may change how you view crime and criminals after reading this text.

As authors, we reflect difference; Stuart was raised in working-class London, England.Mark descended from Southern U.S. antebellum plantation owners.Stuart was educated to traditional, long-tested, yet very narrow British standards; Mark, in a unique multidisciplinary U.S. program.Stuart seriously questions the utility of scientific methods (positivism); Mark relies on them daily.Stuart rarely does anything outdoors, except watch an occasional rock concert.Mark is an active wakeboarder and surfer who loves outdoor life. Yet, despite these differences we found common ground for our analysis of crime and criminality.

We see crime as complex, political, and harmful to victims and perpetrators.We also acknowledge the difference between people, culture, and regions. Thus, we embrace conflict as not only inevitable but a positive force. Conflict promotes contemplation and understanding of others, including their cultures, education, experiences, and worldviews. Conflict also prompts change and thus provides the opportunity for improving our social world. It presents the opportunity to confront our dissatisfactions and search for a better way.

Most Americans and many Europeans are dissatisfied with how we handle crime and criminals.This dissatisfaction raises questions. Is crime caused by individuals—criminals? Is it caused by the way society is organized? By rule makers? By poverty? Drugs? All of the above? Something else? Is crime even caused at all? We also must question how to deal with crime. Should crime be handled by the criminal justice system? By social . . .

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