Sociology of Crime and Criminology: Towards a Unified Theory (Model Visualisation)

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Namibia University of Science and Technology


In 2006 (p. 5) Schulz surmised that “[I]f the state of criminological theory could be assessed in quantitative terms, little would be left for improvement. Today there is a maze of academic contributions to the different strands of criminological thought.” Since then about 15 years have passed in which criminology has further developed. And the interest in the field has grown again. However, apart from minor exceptions (e.g. child justice), in general the impact of criminological theorising on public policy is insignificant. “No explanation consistent with a disciplinary perspective seems to have the ring of truth” (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990, p. 3). The positivist theory driven paradigm may have to do with this. The quest for the best theory in term of parsimoniousness has us looking for a specific type of explanations. Gottfredson and Hirschi’s self-control theory is a prime example in point. Their theory is parsimonious to the extreme, and its core mechanism, low self-control, is proven to be a strong predictor of a specific category of action (crime). However, to the extent that predictor variables of the many theories around each explain only a portion of the variance, the theories cannot be – exclusively – true. If theories make only different, but not contradictory predictions, they can be combined through integration. What is more, criminological theories can be classified according to their location in respect of the divide between macro- and micro-theories. Then, a central, unifying approach to integration should be able to combine micro- and macro-theory. Based on the assumptions discussed hereafter, I want to suggest such approach borrowing from Coleman’s ‘bathtub model’.1 The explication of this model will proceed step by step, beginning with a visualization of Durkheim’s mantra that social facts (phenomenal propositions of the social world) can only be explained by other social facts.


A research working paper model, in preparation towards a more substantial publication.


criminological theory, sociology of crime, action theory, behavioural theory, deterrence theory, social learning theory, control-theory, biosocial theory, Social-Structure-Social-Learning (SSSL) Theory, Social learning, Life-course persistent offenders, Adolescence limited offenders


Schulz, S. (2021). Sociology of Crime and Criminology: Towards a Unified Theory [Model visualization].