1 - Nature of Criminological Theory

1 - Nature of Criminological Theory - Defining Theory...

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Unformatted text preview: Defining Theory Defining A way of explaining and understanding a phenomenon in a manner that fits known and newly generated facts facts Theories are Not: Theories • • Scientific facts or laws Simple unsystematic speculation Simple and guesswork and • Philosophical, moralistic, or Philosophical, ideological statements about what is right/wrong or the way things should be things Components of Theory Components 1. Concepts • Labels or terms for referents • Need to be amenable to Need observation, measurement, or verification verification • In positivism, concepts In become variables through operationalization. operationalization. Notion of Variance Notion Components of Theory Components 2. Propositions 2. • Statements about relation Statements among concepts among • Need to be amenable to Need measurement or verification measurement • Popper – Falsification Popper • Hypotheses – propositions Hypotheses with operationalized variables stated in predictive form stated Components of Theory Components 1. Domain Assumptions Domain (Presuppositions) (Presuppositions) • Broad, taken-for-granted Broad, philosophical presuppositions about the nature of people and society society • Cannot be proven or disproven • Reflect values and beliefs (and Reflect thus historical and cultural context) of theorist of • Value-freedom vs. objectivity vs. Value-freedom neutrality neutrality Domain Assumptions Domain 1. Ontological Ontological Assumptions Assumptions 2. Epistemological Epistemological Assumptions – Realism vs. Nominalism vs. Thomas Kuhn on Paradigms Thomas Broad units of consensus and Broad commitment; adherents share similar assumptions, study similar problems, employ similar methods, etc. etc. Varieties of Theory Varieties 1. Deductive and Inductive Deductive (Grounded Theory – Glaser & Strauss) Strauss) Deductive Theory – Parsons Inductive Theory – Skinner Inductive Goal is generalization, prediction, and ultimately control control Varieties of Theory Varieties 2. General and Developmental 3. Disciplinary Orientation 3. (Criminology as multi(Criminology disciplinary) Varieties of Theory Varieties 4. Level of Analytic Focus 4. (Macro, Meso, Micro) (Macro, 5. Paradigmatic Standing Paradigmatic Standing Paradigmatic a. Behavioral or Etiological Behavioral Paradigm: Criminal behavior is the target of explanation explanation b. Definitional Paradigm: Definitional Criminalization is the target of explanation of A. Positivist Paradigm Positivist • Study of the social analogous to Study study of the natural / physical study • Assumptions of determinism Assumptions (passive agents) and empiricism (realism) (realism) • Goals include understanding, Goals explanation, prediction, and control control B. Interpretative Paradigm Interpretative • • Assumption of nominalism View of agents as active and View acted upon (soft determinism) acted • Goals include description and Goals understanding understanding C. Critical Paradigm Critical • Goals are liberation and Goals emancipation – what should happen and how and • Emphasis on praxis • Emphasis on both determinism and Emphasis active side of people active • Critique; historical and linguistic Critique; inquiries Criteria for Evaluating Theory Criteria 1. 2. 3. 4. Scope (Generality) Parsimony Logical Consistency Testability (Positivists) Testability problem of tautology problem Criteria for Evaluating Theory Criteria 5. Validity • Consistency with evidence Consistency • Boils down to cause – effect • Strict vs. Loose Conception of Causation Causation Conditions for Establishing Loose Causation: Loose • Cause-Effect Correlation • Temporal Precedence of Temporal Cause over Effect Cause - Chicken - Egg Problem - Reciprocal Causation Conditions for Establishing Causation: Causation • Rule Out Rival Causes Spurious Causation Multiple Causation Direct vs. Indirect Causes Criteria for Evaluating Theory Criteria 6. Policy Implications • All policies and practices are All grounded in theoretical understanding. understanding. Criteria for Evaluating Theory Criteria 6. Policy Implications • How clear and viable are the How implications? implications? ...
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