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Introducing Criminological Thinking

Introducing Criminological Thinking
Maps, Theories, and Understanding

December 2014 | 392 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Visual techniques for applying criminological theory to social science research


Introducing Criminological Thinking: Maps, Theories, and Understanding is an accessible and user-friendly criminological theory text for students, instructors and researchers. In addition to the unique use of concept maps, mind maps, and other visual techniques to consider theory-based inquiry, this text combines an exploration of the core elements of theory with relevant examples drawn from biology, psychology, sociology, critical traditions, and integrative efforts. Unlike in other theory texts, the chapters are arranged by level of explanation to help students understand how theories from different disciplines interact with each other as a foundation for many contemporary criminological theories.

Authors Jon Heidt and Johannes Wheeldon have developed a seven-step model to identify key aspects of different theories including their historical and social context, base assumptions, scope, problem foci, terms/concepts, related research, and practical ramifications. This text offers both a student-friendly theoretical discussion and accessible visual examples to explain criminological theory and its applicability to social science research.

PART I: Introduction to Criminological Thinking
CHAPTER 1: Basic Principles of Theorizing and Mapping
What is Criminological Thinking? What is Criminological Theory?

Visual Techniques and Criminological Theory

Seven Steps to Understanding Criminological Thinking

Major Orientations and Organization of the Book

CHAPTER 2: The Seven-Step Model and Early Explanations of Criminality
The Seven Steps to Understanding Criminological Thinking

A Research Example: Classical Criminology and Deterrence Theory

PART II: Individual Difference Theories
CHAPTER 3: Biological Positivist Theories
The Biological Positivist Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Practical Ramifications of Biological Positivism: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

Criticisms of Biological Positivist Theories

Research Example: Rethinking Biology and the Brain

CHAPTER 4: Psychological Positivist Theories
The Psychological Positivist Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Psychological Positivism

Research Example: Mental Illness and Crime

PART III: Process Theories
CHAPTER 5: Psychological Process Theories
The Psychological Process Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Psychological Process Theories

Research Examples: The Stanford Prison Experiment, Milgram in Liberia, and Police Legitimacy

CHAPTER 6: Differential Association and Social Learning Theories
The Differential Association and Social Learning Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Social Learning Theory

Research Example: Meta-Analysis and Social Learning Theory

CHAPTER 7: Control Theories
The Control Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Control Theories: The Complexity of Causation

Research Example: Social Bonding Theory through Life Histories

CHAPTER 8: Labeling Theories
The Labeling Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Labeling Theories

Research Example: Saints, Roughnecks, Labels, and Arrests

PART IV: Structural Theories
CHAPTER 9: Social Disorganization Theories
The Social Disorganization Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Social Disorganization Theories

Research Example: Disorganization, Community, and Mixed Methods

CHAPTER 10: Social Strain and Anomie Theories
The Social Strain and Anomie Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Social Strain and Anomie Theories

Research Example: Measuring Social Strain

PART V: Theories of Crime and Criminal Justice
CHAPTER 11: Conflict Theories
The Conflict Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Conflict Theories

Research Example: Restorative Justice as a Practical Critique of the Criminal Justice System

CHAPTER 12: Rational Choice Theories
The Rational Choice Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Rational Choice Theories

Research Example: Hot Spots, Displacement, and Crime

PART VI: Integration in Criminology
CHAPTER 13: Integrated and General Theories
The Integrative Impulse in Criminology

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Integrated and General Theories

Research Example: General Strain and Social Support

CHAPTER 14: Biosocial Theories
The Biosocial Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Biosocial Theories

Research Example: The Lead-Crime Connection

CHAPTER 15: Developmental and Life Course Theories
The Developmental and Life Course Tradition

Seven Steps of Criminological Thinking

Criticisms of Developmental and Life Course Theories

Research Example: Crime and the Life Course

CHAPTER 16: Conclusion
New Directions in Criminological Theory

Toward an Analysis of Criminological Theories



Instructor Resource Site

The password-protected Instructor Resource Site includes the following:

  • A Microsoft® Word® test bank is available containing multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. Highlight essential content, features, and artwork from the book.

  • An Instructor Manual includes Additional Readings, Class Activities, among other pedagogical tools.

Maps and other graphic organizers were essential for the course, but the rest of the textbook was not. I used the free copy provided to me.

Ms Frances Eucharia Ohanenye
Arts Humanities English Dept, Houston CC-Katy Campus
February 1, 2024

This text offers an excellent range of insights into current issues within criminology, embracing multiple perspectives and of real interest to students and fellow lecturers alike. The visual presentation allows for a broader variety of neurodiverse learners to embrace this popular subject area.

Mrs Sally Tazewell
Dept of Care and Early Years, auckland university of technology
June 13, 2022

This is a very good book to recommend to students. The maps in particular are a very useful way to engage students who may be struggling with the topic, very helpful assistance when teaching theory

Mrs Caroline Knight
Children,Health, Adventure & Public Services, South Devon College
December 23, 2017

A very good and clear book to get in touch with most important lines of research in Criminology. I strongly recommend this book to my students.

Professor Pedro Sousa
Faculty of Law, University of Porto
March 16, 2016

I have found that the seven step guides used by the authors facilitates the foundation degree learner understanding of often complex topics. I have found them easy to read and a valued resource to new learners of criminology. I will be adding this as one of the recommended texts and request

Mr Mark Jagus
Interdiscipline , Derby College
October 21, 2015

While this was an interesting and useful text, it is not appropriate for this current course

Dr Stephanie Kewley
School of Social Sciences , Birmingham City University
May 29, 2015

Well-structured book.

Professor Dirk Drechsler
MI/UNITS, Hochschule Offenburg
April 7, 2015

A very clear, accessible and helpful text. I particularly applaud the structured development of the 'seven step model'. Highly recommended.

Ms Therese Lewis
Faculty of Health , Social Work & Education, Northumbria University
March 17, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Jon Heidt

Jon Heidt is an assistant professor of criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. He received his B.A. in sociology from the University of Montana and his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University in 2011. He has been studying theories for over 10 years and has taught theory and methods courses at several academic institutions. His work has appeared in Critical Criminology, The Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, and The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Dr. Heidt was also involved with research on the supervised injection sites in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. His other... More About Author

Johannes P. Wheeldon

Johannes Wheeldon is an assistant professor at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. He received his B.A. in political science from Dalhousie University, his LLM from Durham University, and his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University in 2009. He has focused on the practical application of criminological theory in policing, courts, and corrections and explored how visual maps can assist students to understand the assumptions behind methodological approaches and research traditions. Recent work has appeared in The Journal of Criminal Justice Education, Theoretical Criminology, and Canadian Political Science Review. The Open Society... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781483333892