Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
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, 382-411 p.Article 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, 382-411 p.
Keyword [en]
developmental criminology, life-course criminology, risk factors, mixed methods, human agency, drift
National Category
Sociology Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-101233DOI: 10.1177/0093854814552100ISI: 000352781100003OAI: diva2:699961
Available from: 2014-03-03 Created: 2014-03-03 Last updated: 2015-05-18Bibliographically 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

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Sivertsson, FredrikCarlsson, Christoffer
By organisation
Department of Criminology
In the same journal
Criminal justice and behavior

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 200 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link