Criminological Theory

Criminology theory represents sets of ideas brought forward to try and explain the crime phenomenon which has been found to be a complex one. Criminology theory seeks to answer questions why crime is so frequent in the country, why crime is more common in some communities as compared to others, the reasons why some people are law abiding and others are criminal and even why crime is committed by both the affluent and the most disadvantaged. Criminology theory thereby represents views to the above questions which the developers acquire form extensive reading, research and analysis of the crime problem in details. Through this research, the theories attempt to offer suggestions on methods of reducing the crime (Lily, Cullen & Ball, 2011).

The Chicago school of criminology

This school argues that crime in the American society arises due to one aspect of the community, the city. The theory observes that the development and organization of the city is does not occur in a random nor an idiosyncratic form but followed a certain. This pattern could help identify distinct basic social processes including invasion, conflict, and assimilation. The theory has been founded on the exploration of how urban life helped shape the nature of criminal activity (Lilly et al., 2011). Understanding the concept of crime required a look into deeper understanding of its social roots.

Shaw and McKay’s Theory of Juvenile Delinquency

Shaw and McKay based their theory on the Burgess’ Concentric zone theory. The theory by Burgess asserted that the neighborhood organization was crucial in preventing or allowing delinquent careers. It observed that in the life of slums, where there were weakening controls due to absence of routine, social intimacy, and virtues, delinquency was likely to emerge. Shaw and McKay further noted that the disorganized neighborhoods facilitated the transmission of criminal values thereby supporting delinquent acts. Shaw and McKay therefore held the belief that juvenile delinquency would only be understood by taking into account the social context where these youths existed (Lily et al. 2011).


Lilly, R., Cullen, F., & Ball, R. (2011). Criminology Theory:Context and Consequences. Los Angeles : Sage Publications.

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