Politics, social and economic change and crime: exploring the impact of contextual effects on offending trajectories
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractDo government policies increase the likelihood that some citizens will become persistent criminals? What is the role of other organisations and institutions in mediating offending over the life-course? Using concepts derived from criminology (such as the idea of a ‘criminal career’, an individual’s repeated, longitudinal sequence of offending), and concepts such as the life-course from sociology, this paper assesses the outcome of macro-level economic policies on individuals’ engagement in crime from age 10 to 30. Whilst many studies have explored the impact of 1980s ‘New Right’ governments on welfare spending, housing and the economy, few studies in political science, sociology or criminology have directly linked macro-economic policies to individual offending careers. Employing individual-level longitudinal data, we track a sample of Britons born in 1970 from childhood to adulthood, examining their offending trajectories between ages 10 and 30, and hence through a period of dramatic economic and social change in the UK throughout the early-1980s, during which the economy was dramatically restructured. As such, we are primarily concerned with the effects of economic policies on an individual’s repeated offending. Using data from the British 1970 Birth Cohort Study, we develop a model that incorporates individuals, families and schools, and which takes account of national-level economic policies (which were driven by New Right political ideas) and which, we argue, shaped individual offending careers. Our paper suggests that processes of economic restructuring were a key causal factor in offending during this period. This broader framework also emphasises the importance of considering political and economic forces in criminal careers and related research. The paper therefore encourages criminologists to draw upon ideas from political science when developing explanations of offending careers, and shows how the choices over the political management of the economy encourage individual-level responses.
CitationFarrall, S., Gray, E. and Jones, P. (2020). 'Politics, social and economic change and crime: exploring the impact of contextual effects on offending trajectories'. politics and society, 48(3), pp. 1-34.
JournalPolitics and Society
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