life course perspective

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminology

The life course perspective is a theoretical framework in criminology that seeks to understand the complex interplay between individual development and social structure over the course of a person’s life.

This perspective recognizes that individuals are shaped by a variety of social, economic, and cultural factors and that these factors interact in complex ways to influence their behavior and life outcomes.

The life course perspective emphasizes the importance of considering individuals’ long-term developmental trajectories and the immediate social and environmental factors that shape their behavior at a given moment. This approach recognizes that an individual’s life experiences and social contexts change over time and that these changes can profoundly impact their behavior and outcomes.

From a criminological perspective, the life course perspective is particularly useful in understanding patterns of offending and desistance over the course of an individual’s life. By taking a holistic view of individuals’ life experiences, including their family background, peer relationships, educational and occupational opportunities, and other social and economic factors, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to criminal behavior and the potential pathways toward desistance.

Overall, the life course perspective provides a useful framework for understanding the complex interplay between individual development and social structure and can help researchers and policymakers develop more effective strategies for preventing and reducing criminal behavior.

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Last Modified: 03/09/2023


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