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Processes of Intermittency in Criminal Careers: Notes From a Swedish Study on Life Courses and Crime
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
2013 (English)In: International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, ISSN 0306-624X, E-ISSN 1552-6933, Vol. 57, no 8, 913-938 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores the concept of “intermittency” and uses qualitative lifehistory narratives with male offenders from The Stockholm Life Course Projectto distinguish between two qualitatively different forms of intermittent offending.Findings suggest that one form of intermittency can be characterized by “breaks”and “pauses” in offending, where the offender for a period of time “holds up” butwithout attempting to commit to any long-term change in trajectory. The secondform can best be understood as incomplete or aborted attempts at desistance, whereattempts to change are present but not realized. Perceived or experienced failure toenter conventional roles and engage in conventional practices is highly relevant tounderstand these attempts. The intermittent zigzag patterns of offending observed inquantitative studies of criminal careers can thus actually entail qualitatively differentlife course processes of continuity and change. Implications for policy and futureresearch are highlighted.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 57, no 8, 913-938 p.
Keyword [en]
life course, intermittency, desistance from crime, human agency, life history narratives
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82019DOI: 10.1177/0306624X12443656ISI: 000321619200002OAI: diva2:565093
The Stockholm Life Course Project
Available from: 2012-12-05 Created: 2012-11-06 Last updated: 2014-03-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Continuities and Changes in Criminal Careers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Continuities and Changes in Criminal Careers
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The best predictor of future criminal behavior is past criminal behavior. At the same time, the vast majority of people who engage in crime are teenagers and stop offending with age. Explaining these empirical findings has been the main task of life-course criminology, and contributing to an understanding of how and why offenders continue their criminal careers once they have started, and how and why they stop, is also the purpose of this dissertation.

To do this, the dissertation studies a number of facets of the criminal career: the importance of childhood risk factors (Paper I), the notions of turning points (Paper II) and intermittency (Paper III), and the connection between masculinities and criminal careers (Paper IV). In contrast to much life-course criminological research, the dissertation mainly relies on qualitative life history interviews, collected as part of The Stockholm Life Course Project.

The findings suggest a need for increased sensitivity to offenders’ lives, and their complexity. Whereas continuity and change can be understood within a frame of age-graded social control, this perspective needs to be extended and developed further, in mainly three ways. First, the concept and phenomenon of human agency needs closer study. Second, lived experiences of various forms of social stratification (e.g. gender, ethnicity, and so on) must be integrated into understandings of continuity and change in crime, seeing as phenomena such as social control may be contingent on these in important ways. Third, this dissertation highlights the need to go beyond the transition to adulthood and explore the later stages of criminal careers.

In closing, the dissertation suggests that we move toward a focus on the contingencies of criminal careers and the factors, events, and processes that help shape them. If we understand those contingencies in more detail, possible implications for policy and practice also emerge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Criminology, Stockholm University, 2014. 127 p.
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 34
life-course criminology, criminal careers, persistence, desistance
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100696 (URN)978-91-7447-867-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-04-25, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defence the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted

Available from: 2014-04-03 Created: 2014-02-11 Last updated: 2014-03-13Bibliographically approved

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