An Introduction to Criminological Theory  book cover
5th Edition

An Introduction to Criminological Theory

ISBN 9781138700215
Published November 5, 2018 by Routledge
684 Pages 4 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to criminological theory for students taking courses in criminology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Building on previous editions, this book presents the latest research and theoretical developments. The text is divided into five parts, the first three of which address ideal type models of criminal behaviour: the rational actor, predestined actor and victimized actor models. Within these, the various criminological theories are located chronologically in the context of one of these different traditions, and the strengths and weaknesses of each theory and model are clearly identified. The fourth part of the book looks closely at more recent attempts to integrate theoretical elements from both within and across models of criminal behaviour, while the fifth part addresses a number of key recent concerns of criminology: postmodernism, cultural criminology, globalization and communitarianism, the penal society, southern criminology and critical criminology. All major theoretical perspectives are considered, including:

  • classical criminology,
  • biological and psychological positivism,
  • labelling theories,
  • feminist criminology,
  • critical criminology and left realism,
  • situation action,
  • desistance theories,
  • social control theories,
  • the risk society, postmodern condition and terrorism.

The new edition also features comprehensive coverage of recent developments in criminology, including ‘the myth of the crime drop’, the revitalization of critical criminology and political economy, shaming and crime, defiance theory, coerced mobility theory and new developments in social control and general strain theories. This revised and expanded fifth edition of An Introduction to Criminological Theory includes chapter summaries, critical thinking questions, policy implications, a full glossary of terms and theories and a timeline of criminological theory, making it essential reading for those studying criminology and taking courses on theoretical criminology, understanding crime, and crime and deviance

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: crime and modernity 

Part One: The rational actor model of crime and criminal behaviour 

2. Classical criminology 

3. Populist conservative criminology 

4. Contemporary rational actor theories 

Part Two: The predestined actor model of crime and criminal behaviour 

5. Biological positivism 
6. Psychological positivism 
7. Sociological positivism 

8. Women and positivism

Part Three: The victimized actor model of crime and criminal behaviour 

9. Labelling theories 

10. Conflict and radical theories 

11. The gendered criminal 
12. Critical criminology 

Part Four: Integrated theories of crime and criminal behaviour 

13. Sociobiological theories 

14. Environmental theories 

15. Social control theories 

16. Situational action theories 

17. Desistance theories 

18. Left realism 

Part Five: Crime and criminal behaviour in the age of moral uncertainty

19. Crime and the postmodern condition 

20. Cultural criminology and the schizophrenia of crime 

21. Crime, globalization and the risk society 

22. Rediscovering critical criminology 

23. Living in penal society 

24. Radical moral communitarian criminology 
25. Conclusions: criminology in an age of austerity 

Criminological theory timeline 

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Roger Hopkins Burke is the author of numerous books and articles in the areas of criminology, criminal justice and social philosophy. He was formerly Principal Lecturer and Criminology Subject Leader at Nottingham Trent University, UK, and is currently an independent consultant.


"An Introduction to Criminological Theory by Roger Hopkins Burke continues to be one of the best theory textbooks available. He comprehensively covers criminological theories from the very beginning, through the ages, and then brings students up to date with current scholarship. The summaries and discussion questions make this an accessible and essential resource."

Professor Tanya Wyatt, Northumbria University, UK

"An Introduction to Criminological Theory by Roger Hopkins Burke has been a constant staple of criminology students learning since its initial publication and this fifth edition continues the trend. Building on the previous editions, this copy provides even more extensive and contemporary insight into theoretical developments. Ensuring that students are equipped to understand, identify with and apply the key criminological theoretical perspectives, the book makes theory accessible and engaging. Encouraging critical thought, this is essential reading for those studying criminology, crime and deviance."

Dr Lisa Sugiura, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Portsmouth, UK

"In this latest and rich edition of An Introduction to Criminological Theory, Roger Hopkins Burke captures explanations for crime and charts the evolution of criminological thought, past, present and emerging. This book is insightful and accessible: an important contribution as students (and indeed, some scholars) can find criminological theories to be complex and confronting. The contextual overview, commentary of key features, critique of concepts and policy and practice application provided in each chapter ensures this text is a staple for those eager to understand constructions of and responses to crime."

Dr Bridget Harris, Lecturer, School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Australia