Crime is mostly committed by young people, hence any theory of criminal offending should explain how it fits with the course of individual development from infancy to old age. The evolution of offending over the life course is a story of both continuity and change. This chapter reviews evidence on stability and change in offending over the life course, and how each can be explained. Because criminal behaviour is often dysfunctional, explaining why people persist in it poses a challenge. Possible explanations span constitutional factors, personality, cognitive processes, social interactions, victimization-offending loops, labelling and stigmatization, and constraints imposed by social structure. Equally the dramatic change in offending over the life course needs to be explained, although classic criminological theories have not attempted to explain it. Possible realms of explanation are changing social responses to misbehaviour in people of different ages, changing social bonds and peer influence, changing social roles, activities, and associated opportunities for offending, and changing cultural definitions. The evidence that is relevant to these explanations is reviewed in the light of a critical assessment of problems of method.
|Title of host publication||The Oxford Handbook of Criminology|
|Editors||Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan, Robert Reiner|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Number of pages||54|
|ISBN (Print)||0199256098, 9780199256099|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|
- life course, longitudinal, development, crime, antisocial behaviour, age, persistance, desistance