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Title:Public criminology: Its social construction and policy implications
Author(s):Patterson, Thomas Dean
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bordua, Daniel J.
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Sociology, General
Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Abstract:The subject matter of this thesis is public criminology, that is, causal explanations of crime employed by the lay public. The thesis is that different styles of public criminology exist, that each is a product of a different social background and each produces a different set of lay attitudes toward crime control policies. Extant research on public crime control attitudes like punitiveness and rehabilitation lacks a theory which links these attitudes to social background. The study of public criminology addresses this need by first identifying public attributional styles regarding the causes of crime, then forming hypotheses about the social context from which they are likely to come and their implications for forming attitudes toward crime policy. The result is a two-step, attribution-based cognitive consistency model which explains public attitudes toward punishment and rehabilitation by social context via intervening attribution processes.
This model is specified and tested by two steps of multiple regression on a 1983 random sample of Illinois residents (N = 480) which surveys responses to a wide range of crime-relevant questions.
Results indicate three main styles of public criminology exist with like social contexts and policy implications. Specifically, predator theorists come from a predatory social context and want criminals punished. Inequality theorists come from a context characterized by individual victimization via social inequality and favor rehabilitation. Moral control theorists live in a religious context and favor parental discipline to reduce crime. These results support the thesis that public crime control attitudes are shaped by the salient features of social context in which people live and that this shaping process is via lay theories of crime causation.
The implications of this research are that attribution is central to attitude formation and that attitude formation is indirectly a function of interactive social context.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Patterson, Thomas Dean
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136698
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136698

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