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Continuity, Change, and Contradictions: Risk and Agency in Criminal Careers to Age 59
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
2015 (English)In: Criminal justice and behavior, ISSN 0093-8548, E-ISSN 1552-3594, Vol. 42, no 4, p. 382-411Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study's point of departure is the current debate over the ability to make prospective long-term predictions of criminal offending based on childhood risk factors. We begin by constructing groups based on cumulative childhood risk and measure their subsequent criminal career outcomes. The results show clear differences in adult offending but also considerable heterogeneity, suggesting that the relationship between risk factors and individuals' subsequent offending or non-offending is complex and in need of closer study. We therefore identify individuals in the low-and high-risk groups who did not develop the criminal careers that could be expected from their risk scores and, using deviant case analysis, qualitatively analyze their life histories. Together, these cases inform us of the importance of the dynamics of risk, human agency, and the life course, as well as the historical influences under which their lives unfolded-features of social life that could in no way be predicted prospectively.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 42, no 4, p. 382-411
Keywords [en]
developmental criminology, life-course criminology, risk factors, mixed methods, human agency, drift
National Category
Other Social Sciences Sociology
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-101233DOI: 10.1177/0093854814552100ISI: 000352781100003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-101233DiVA, id: diva2:699961
Available from: 2014-03-03 Created: 2014-03-03 Last updated: 2018-09-12Bibliographically 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. p. 127
Series
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 34
Keywords
life-course criminology, criminal careers, persistence, desistance
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
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)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

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
2. Criminal Careers in the Long Run: Patterns and Predictions of Criminal Convictions across Age, Time, and Gender
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Criminal Careers in the Long Run: Patterns and Predictions of Criminal Convictions across Age, Time, and Gender
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Why is it that a small proportion of the population accounts for the majority of crime? This question has stimulated a great deal of theoretical and methodological controversy in criminology. In essence, the debate is rooted in different theoretical underpinnings of continuity and change in crime, and the extent to which it is possible to foresee a life of crime by zeroing in on at-risk juvenile offenders. The current thesis explores four contentious empirical issues that may move this debate forward: the long-term predictability of persistent offending in adulthood on the basis of childhood risk factors (Study I); the magnitude of adult-onset offending (Study II); the predictive value of gender for criminal recidivism (Study III); and the association between birth cohort membership and criminal career parameters (Study IV). All four studies employ longitudinal Swedish administrative data, based on cohorts of individuals born between the early 1940s and the mid-1980s, and followed on the basis of detailed conviction data. The thesis also utilizes qualitative life-history narratives with former at-risk juvenile delinquents. The results suggest that theories aiming to explain crime beyond the transition to adulthood should incorporate factors presumed to cause within-individual change, even among high-risk juvenile offenders. Although childhood cumulative risk, including a wide range of individual, family, school, and peer measures, were clearly associated with adult crime, they had limited value for predicting those persistent offenders who eventually ended up in the tail of the crime distribution. Furthermore, although gender is generally one of the main demographic predictors of criminal convictions, the results indicate that it is important to include females for the purpose of understanding continuity and change in adulthood. This is in part because adult-onset offending is more prevalent within the female offending population than within the male offending population and in part because the risk for criminal recidivism among female offenders becomes increasingly similar to that found among male offenders as convictions accumulate over the life span. Finally, the results suggest that the typical criminal career has undergone significant changes both within and across gender groups during the period since the mid-1970s, a period which has witnessed a historical decline in the aggregate conviction rate in Sweden. Taking this into consideration, the employment and extensive analysis of longitudinal multiple cohort data ought to provide a basis for furthering our knowledge on the inherent complexity of crime trends, while at the same time also locating the study of criminal careers in its historical context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Criminology, Stockholm University, 2018. p. 86
Series
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 40
Keywords
Criminal career, Recidivism, Life course, Longitudinal, Birth cohort, Gender
National Category
Sociology Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159972 (URN)978-91-7797-388-1 (ISBN)978-91-7797-389-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-10-26, Hörsal 7 hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-10-03 Created: 2018-09-12 Last updated: 2018-10-10Bibliographically approved

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