Criminality: Theories, Prevention, and Life Space

Criminality: Theories, Prevention, and Life Space

Augusto Balloni (Italian Society of Victimology, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1286-9.ch001


From an initial analysis relative to the spread of crime, some theories on the causes of criminal behavior are reviewed. After having underlined that many theoretical hypotheses on criminal conduct are not fully satisfactory because they do not offer data and elements useful to concretely evaluate behavior in criminology, the proposal is, especially for prevention, to refer to the theories in the field of psychology linked to the research by K. Lewin and his followers, through action-research. An attempt has been made to re-propose the approach proposed by K. Lewin, believing that this perspective can open up new horizons regarding both scientific research and practical applications, especially in relation to programming a more attentive interpretation and prevention of the crime. This proposal is based on personal experiences in the psychiatric-criminological field, applying research-action.
Chapter Preview


Through its different manifestations, crime at a planetary level now seems to have spread and become established in urban areas. On the other hand, the control of the various forms of criminal and violent behavior which are winning over increasing spaces in cities, appears to be hindered by a large number of problems which concern the efficiency of the agencies for the control and the sense of civil responsibility. This situation is particularly evident in our societies and appears mainly in periods of growth and of recession. The various aspects of social change are reflected and will be reflected on values which determine the way people, and especially young people, think, therefore trying to observe how the change of values is imposed can also be helpful for trying to interpret the phenomena defined as deviance, criminality and violence, especially in urban areas.

With reference to the social change that is also characterized by technological innovations, it is worth recalling that there is one type of criminality that is also connected to the evolution of technology, the crimes that are committed using computers which however coexist with various sectors of traditional crime. Computer criminality and traditional crimes against property (theft and robbery) take place at the same time, for example, as crimes related to the traffic and sale of drugs. Therefore, reference can be made to conventional and non-conventional crimes which take on a different perspective concerning prevention, fear of criminality and some questions related to victimology.

It is effectively necessary to develop the analysis and study of conventional crimes, and above all, of non-conventional ones. As far as the first aspect is concerned, reference is made essentially to crimes against natural persons, property, morality and various types of harassment and other forms of offence (robbery, theft, personal injury and sexual violence). The expression ‘non-conventional crimes’ refers to offences committed under the cover of public offices, crimes against international laws and those deriving from political activities, including political violence and terrorism and crimes caused by ideological and religious fanaticism, corruption, exploitation of workers, racial discrimination, genocide, fraudulent advertising, pollution and all those crimes connected with organized criminality. In this perspective, the problem of prevention is very complex because the phenomenon of criminality and delinquency, especially in recent years, has been taking on very alarming characteristics, both for its general trend and for the appearance of specific increases of certain types of offence with the considerable persistence of the number of unknown authors of crimes. Present-day crime looks different from that of yesterday, at least in its expressive qualities, to the extent that there is increasing talk of new criminality. Examples of this are industrial espionage implemented with sophisticated technologies, the phenomenon of commercial counterfeiting with the counterfeiting of branded products, insurance frauds, adulteration of food and pharmaceuticals, the colossal levels of economic crime and the irreversible damage of the so-called ecological crime.

Conventional crimes are more frequently present in criminal statistics, whilst non-conventional crimes do not appear clearly in criminal statistics, either because they are not identified or because in some countries they are recorded in special archives. Public opinion seems to ignore non- conventional crime because it is conventional crimes that cause concern and that underlie the fear of criminality, generating insecurity and fear for the safety of people or things.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Crime Prevention: Any strategy or measure that seeks to fight criminality and delinquent behavior at their root.

Topological Psychology: According to Lewin this is a term which conceives the life space as a total field including the person and the environment.

Crime: In legal terms, the violation of a law.

Psychological Life Space: The combination of all the factors that influence a person's behavior at any time.

Theory: strict and systematic formulation based on scientific principles.

Action-Research: Epistemological sequence composed of action planning and verification of its possible effects. Anomie: The absence or the lack of norms.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: