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Hardback 368 pp.
2 illustrations, 6 1/8" x 9 1/4"



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Vold's Theoretical Criminology

Sixth Edition

Thomas J. Bernard, Jeffrey B. Snipes and Alexander L. Gerould

Vold's Theoretical Criminology, first published in 1958, was the first book of its kind and is considered "the" standard text in criminological theory. "Vold" is a household name among criminologists because of this book, which many of them used as students and continue to use as professors. Each theory is presented accurately and comprehensively within its historical context. Relevant empirical research is reviewed and assessed, and research issues related to theory testing are also discussed.

Readership : Suitable for grad or undergrad courses in Criminological Theory and higher lever Criminology courses.


  • "When teaching criminology, I seek to provide sophisticated accounts of a wide range of theoretical perspectives coupled with a selection of the best empirical research on the key issues important to the field. Over the years, I continue to find that Theoretical Criminology is the book that best fits my teaching goals. It is an excellent teaching tool and its breadth and depth of coverage is unparalleled. I highly recommend this book for advanced undergraduates as well as graduate students."

    --John H. Laub, University of Maryland, College Park
  • "I have been impressed with the previous editions of this highly regarded textbook, and the new, updated edition continues that fine tradition. The reviews of theoretical approaches and associated research are consistently comprehensive, balanced, and highly readable. The book excels at two levels: it works well in the classroom, and it serves as a valuable resource for the professional criminologist."

    --Steven F. Messner, University at Albany, State University of New York
  • "Vold's Theoretical Criminology is the classic text on criminological theory, providing an exceptional overview of the development of crime theories and a comprehensive examination of every major theory, including the many theories developed in recent years. Further, the book makes a theoretical contribution itself, through its insightful discussion of crime theories. This is an excellent text for any course on criminological theory."

    --Robert Agnew, Emory University
  • "The sixth edition of Vold's Theoretical Criminology demonstrates why this text is among the most complete and important overviews of criminological theories for students and faculty alike. It is the book from which I learned about theories of crime as an undergraduate student; the book that I turned to for a more advanced understanding and dissection of criminological theory as a graduate student; the book I suggest all of my graduate students read in order to learn about theory; and it has continued to be a key reading throughout my career as a faculty member. While theories of crime undergo change, it is comforting to know that Vold's Theoretical Criminology remains a pillar of continuity in its treatment of the origins of crime."

    --Alex R. Piquero, University of Maryland, College Park

Each chapter ends with a list of Key Terms and Discussion Questions.: *Each chapter ends with a list of Key Terms and Discussion Questions.
1. Theory and Crime
Spiritual Explanations
Natural Explanations
Scientific Theories
Causation in Scientific Theories
Three Frames of Reference
Relationships among the Three Frames of Reference
2. Classical Criminology
The Social and Intellectual Background of Classical Criminology
Beccaria and the Classical School
From Classical Theory to Deterrence Research
Three Types of Deterrence Research
Rational Choice and Offending
Routine Activities and Victimization
3. Biological Factors and Criminal Behavior
Background: Physical Appearance and Defectiveness
Lombroso, the "Born Criminal" and Positivist Criminology
Goring's Refutation of the "Born Criminal"
Body Type Theories
Family Studies
Twin and Adoption Studies
The Central Nervous System
The Autonomic Nervous System
Environmentally Induced Biological Components of Behavior
Implications and Conclusions
4. Psychological Factors and Criminal Behavior
Intelligence and Crime: Background Ideas and Concepts
IQ Tests and Criminal Behavior
Delinquency, Race, and IQ
Interpreting the Association Between Delinquency and IQ
Personality and Criminal Behavior
Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder
Clinical Prediction of Future Dangerousness
Actuarial Prediction of Later Crime and Delinquency
Depression and Delinquency
Impulsivity and Crime
Policy Implications of Personality Research
5. Crime and poverty
Historical Background: Guerry and Quetelet
Research on Crime and Poverty: Contradictions and Disagreements
Crime and Unemployment: A Detailed Look at Research
Problems Interpreting Research on Crime and Economic Conditions
Implications and Conclusions
6. Durkheim, Anomie, and Modernization
Emile Durkheim
Crime as Normal in Mechanical Societies
Anomie as a Pathological State in Organic Societies
Durkheim's Theory of Crime
7. Neighborhoods and Crime
The Theory of Human Ecology
Research in the "Delinquency Areas" of Chicago
Policy Implications
Residential Succession, Social Disorganization, and Crime
Sampson's Theory of Collective Efficacy
Expanding Interest in Neighborhood Social Processes
Implications and Conclusions
8. Strain Theories
Robert K. Merton and Anomie in American Society
Strain as the Explanation of Gang Delinquency
1960s Strain-Based Policies
The Decline and Resurgence of Strain Theories
Strain in Individuals
Strain in Societies
9. Learning Theories
Basic Psychological Approaches to Learning
Sutherland's Differential Association Theory
Research Testing Sutherland's Theory
The Content of Learning: Cultural and Subcultural Theories
The Learning Process: Social Learning Theory
Athens's Theory of "Violentization"
10. Control Theories
Early Control Theories: Reiss to Nye
Matza's Delinquency and Drift
Hirschi's Social Control Theory
Assessing Social Control Theory
Gottfredson and Hirschi's A General Theory of Crime
Assessing Gottfredson and Hirschi's General Theory
Implications and Conclusions
11. The Meaning of Crime
The Meaning of Crime to the Self: Labeling Theory
The Meaning of Crime to the Criminal: Katz's Seductions of Crime
The Situational Meaning of Crime: Zimbardo's Lucifer Effect
The Meaning of Crime to the Larger Society: Deviance and Social Reaction
State Power and the Meaning of Crime: Controlology
Implications and Conclusions
12. Conflict Criminology
Early Conflict Theories: Sellin and Vold
Conflict Theories in a Time of Conflict: Turk, Quinney, and Chambliss and Seidman
Black's Theory of the Behavior of Law
A Unified Conflict Theory of Crime
Testing Conflict Theory
Implications and Conclusions
13. Marxism and Postmodern Criminology
Overview of Marx's Theory
Marx on Crime, Criminal Law, and Criminal Justice
The Emergence of Marxist Criminology
Marxist Theory and Research on Crime
Overview of Postmodernism
Postmodern Criminology
14. Gender and Crime
The Development of Feminist Criminology
Schools of Feminist Criminology
Gender in Criminology
Why Are Women's Crime Rates So Low?
Why Are Men's Crime Rates So High?
15. Developmental Theories
The Great Debate: Criminal Careers, Longitudinal Research, and the Relationship Between Age and Crime
Criminal Propensity vs. Criminal Career
The Transition to Developmental Criminology
Three Developmental Directions
Thornberry's Interactional Theory
Sampson and Laub's Age-Graded Theory of Informal Social Control
Tremblay's Developmental Origins of Physical Aggression
16. Integrated Theories
Elliott's Integrated Theory of Delinquency and Drug Use
The Falsification vs. Integration Debate
Braithwaite's Theory of Reintegrative Shaming
Tittle's Control Balance Theory
Coercion and Social Support
Bernard and Snipes's Approach to Integrating Criminology Theories
Agnew's General Theory
17. Assessing Criminology Theories
Science, Theory, Research, and Policy
Individual Difference Theories
Structure/Process Theories
Theories of the Behavior of Criminal Law

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Thomas J. Bernard is Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Pennsylvania State University. Jeffrey B. Snipes is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Studies at San Francisco State University. Alexander L. Gerould is a full-time faculty member in the Criminal Justice Studies Department at San Francisco State University. The late George B. Vold was Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota.

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin

Special Features

  • The standard text in theoretical criminology.
  • Offers clear explanations and insightful assessments of the wide range of criminological theories.
  • Includes the traditional classical and positivist schools, recent biological and psychological theories, and mainstream sociological theories, as well as critical, developmental, and integrated theories, and gender-based theories.
New to this Edition
  • Expanded discussion of empirical research with specific theories.
  • Feminist criminology chapter thoroughly expanded.
  • Additional material on policy implications.
  • Updates and changes, including a discussion of the "biosocial" approach; a more robust discussion of theoretical explanations for gendered differences in crime; expansion of the discussion of the link between IQ and crime.
  • More visuals, including helpful illustrations and charts of empirical data.
  • Footnotes have been converted to endnotes for a more fluid reading experience.
  • Lists of Key Terms and Discussion Questions added to the end of each chapter.