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Continuities and Changes in Criminal Careers
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
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.
Series
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 34
Keyword [en]
life-course criminology, criminal careers, persistence, desistance
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100696ISBN: 978-91-7447-867-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-100696DiVA: diva2:703878
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
List of papers
1. Continuity, Change, and Contradictions: Risk and Agency in Criminal Careers to Age 59
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Continuity, Change, and Contradictions: Risk and Agency in Criminal Careers to Age 59
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.

Keyword
developmental criminology, life-course criminology, risk factors, mixed methods, human agency, drift
National Category
Sociology Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-101233 (URN)10.1177/0093854814552100 (DOI)000352781100003 ()
Available from: 2014-03-03 Created: 2014-03-03 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Using 'Turning Points' to Understand Processes of Change In Offending: Notes from a Swedish Study on Life Courses and Crime
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using 'Turning Points' to Understand Processes of Change In Offending: Notes from a Swedish Study on Life Courses and Crime
2012 (English)In: British Journal of Criminology, ISSN 0007-0955, E-ISSN 1464-3529, Vol. 52, no 1, 1-16 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Processes of within-individual change in offending and desistance from crime can be very complex, often involving multiple, context-specific processes. But even in a generous reading of much research on turning points, while this is theoretically stated or inferred, it is less often shown or illustrated in empirical cases. I explore processes of change in offending with the help of the concept of ‘turning points’, through life story interviews conducted in the Stockholm Project, trying to make use of the possibilities inherent in qualitative inquiry. I show how life course processes and the turning points that emerge within them are often interdependent on each other, emerging in very context-specific circumstances, and need to be studied and understood and such. Future research areas are suggested.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012
Keyword
turning points, life course criminology, offending; desistance, life story interviews
National Category
Law and Society
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-60419 (URN)10.1093/bjc/azr062 (DOI)000297858100001 ()
Note

1

Available from: 2011-08-26 Created: 2011-08-16 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
3. Processes of Intermittency in Criminal Careers: Notes From a Swedish Study on Life Courses and Crime
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Processes of Intermittency in Criminal Careers: Notes From a Swedish Study on Life Courses and Crime
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.

Keyword
life course, intermittency, desistance from crime, human agency, life history narratives
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82019 (URN)10.1177/0306624X12443656 (DOI)000321619200002 ()
Projects
The Stockholm Life Course Project
Available from: 2012-12-05 Created: 2012-11-06 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
4. Masculinities, Persistence, and Desistance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Masculinities, Persistence, and Desistance
2013 (English)In: Criminology (Beverly Hills), ISSN 0011-1384, E-ISSN 1745-9125, Vol. 51, no 3, 661-693 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In life-course criminology, when gender has been the focus of study, it has predominantly been treated as a variable. Studies that explore the gendered nature of criminal careers through the lived experiences of offenders are rare, even though these studies can make important contributions to our understanding of crime and the life course. Analyzing qualitative data, this article uses life-history narratives of a small sample of male juvenile delinquents (N = 25), born in 1969–1974, to explore the possible link among masculinities, persistence, and desistance from crime. The findings of the study suggest that processes of persistence and desistance are imbued with age-specific norms of what it means to “be a man” and successfully do masculinity in different stages of life. Analyzing these gender-specific practices gives a deepened understanding of processes that underlie the offenders’ lives as they go through stages of continuity and change in crime. The findings of the study further suggest a complex intersection between gendered biographies and gendered structures, with fruitful contributions to life-course criminology. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Keyword
masculinities, criminal careers, persistence, desistance, life-history interviews
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97486 (URN)10.1111/1745-9125.12016 (DOI)000329279900006 ()
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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