(For Johnny) Victimology- compare and contrast two victimization theories- 400–600 words


The various theories that exist about victimology help to set the stage for understanding how individuals become victims. Victimization theories that stem back to the 1940s still support contemporary viewpoints and issues that plague victims.


Write 400–600 words that respond to the following questions with your thoughts, ideas, and comments. Be substantive and clear, and use examples to reinforce your ideas.  APA Format & References


•Select and discuss two victimization theories, and compare and contrast how they address the various behaviors that lead to individuals becoming victims.


•Select from the following theories:


◦Mendelsohn’s theory of victimization (the 6 categories)


◦Von Hentig’s theory of victimization (3 categories)


◦Stephen Schafer’s functional responsibility


◦Wolfgang’s study of homicide


◦Karmen’s theory of victimization

Attached are my notes & references for these two theories, but may choose different ones to compare & contrast (Routine activities approach——–à Lifestyle theory————————)


◦Lifestyle theory


◦Routine activities approach


◦Opportunity model of victimization


◦Critical victimology


◦Victim blaming


◦Victim’s contribution to the crime


•How are the theories different in their victim assessments? Explain.


•How are the theories similar in the victim assessments? Explain.



Compare and Contrast the Routine Activities Approach and the Lifestyle Theory

Lifestyle theory in criminal justice focuses on crime victims rather than perpetrators. For perpetrators, there is the closely related “routine activities” theory, which stresses the lack of people and social structures that deter criminal activities. The main issue is that crime victims often become victims because of their own choices as to where to live, how to socialize and other lifestyle-related variables. (Johnson)


According to lifestyle theory, people become victims of crime because they do not exercise intelligent or rational choice when putting themselves in social situations. In general, such social situations refer to the peer group, friends, social world and environment. Criminologist Larry Siegel holds that such things as an all-male peer group, urban environments, weapons-carrying and excessive partying are all tightly correlated with becoming victims of crime. (Johnson)

While this theory places much of the onus of crime on the victims and their lack of care, other theories, such as the conflict theory, hold that social life itself is the cause of crime, in that those with power use the criminal justice system to protect themselves from those who do not. Theories such as the general decision theory hold that criminals become such because the criminal lifestyle is rational for them: no other options seem open to them. (Johnson)


Lifestyle theory places the reality of victimization in the choices of the person. As a result, this falls under the category of a “rational choice” theory. This means that crime, whether in its commission or victimization, is based on the choices of both groups. People put themselves in harm’s way when they mix with the wrong people and in the wrong situations. (Johnson)


Lifestyle theory holds that if a person changes his life choices, he will become less likely to be victimized. For example, a person can change friends, move to a rural area and stop going to bars. This, according to this approach, will lessen the chances of the person’s becoming a victim. Lifestyle changes, in short, can reduce crime risk. (Johnson)


While stressing choice, this approach also stresses social life. Social life, this theory implies, is itself a set of choices. Crime is then based on victims who deliberately put themselves in harm’s way by identifying with those people or situations prone to crime. If one, for example, decides to go to bars regularly, this means that the home is often empty, and the car in places where intoxicated people gather. This is an invitation to crime. (Johnson)


While lifestyle theory deals with victims, “routine activities” theory deals with criminals. These two theories are nearly identical, with the only difference being the points of view. Routine-activities theory holds that for a crime to be committed, three things need to be present. The first two are easy: a suitable target and criminal motivation. It is the third that matters: lack of deterrence. This lack of deterrence can be as simple as a lack of police officers in the area. However, more significantly, it refers to a lack of a social structure that would deter crime. (Johnson)


“Routine activities” holds that a social structure, such as a thriving economy, strong families, close-knit neighborhoods and strong religious values, all work together to deter most crime. Without these structures, criminality will flourish. Within the study of criminology, the routine activities theory is an offshoot of the rational choice theory, which posits that our actions are the result of a conscious choices made after weighing our options. According to routine activity theory, crime is not an aberrant behavior, but a normal occurrence that should be fully expected under the proper conditions. This theory is particularly applicable to the study of delinquency. (Brent)

Routine Activities Theory

Proponents of routine activities theory believe that crime is normal, but dependent upon the opportunities to commit the crime. if the opportunity exists and the reward is great enough, a crime is all but assured. For example, an easily accessible, unmanned cash register in a convenience store would present too tempting a target for some person to pass up, whether a hardened criminal or someone who has never before committed a crime. (Brent)

The Opportunity

According to this theory, responsibility for the crime lies more with the victim than the offender. The most important factor in whether a crime will be committed is not the presence of an experienced criminal or a socially deviant person, but whether there is an opportunity for a crime to be committed. In routine activities theory, social issues such as poverty and unemployment are not seen as factors in crime, as these do not alter the opportunity. Therefore, it is not surprising that routine activity theory is controversial among sociologists who believe crime is the result of social factors. However, routine activities theory does explain certain types of crime better than others, such as illegal downloading of movies and music, office theft and even embezzlement. In all these cases, the perpetrator is unlikely to be a hardened criminal, and the crime is committed because the opportunity exists. (Brent)

Three Elements

With respect to juvenile delinquency, routine activities theory suggests that three elements must be in place to create the ideal scenario for a crime to be committed. These are potential offenders, suitable targets and guardians who are incapable, unwilling or absent. The motivation behind the crime lies primarily with the opportunity, and an unsupervised minor presented with such an opportunity is easily tempted to commit a crime. (Brent)

Preventing Crime

The routine activities theory is also effective in explaining the motivations behind property crime, and also offers solutions for preventing property crime. The theory implies that crime can be prevented by disabling one of the three elements necessary for creating the ideal opportunity. The theory suggests that a potential victim can reduce his chances of becoming a victim of crime by simply changing his activities and routines in such a manner that either eliminates the opportunity or makes a crime more difficult to commit. For example, varying your routine to make periods of absences less predictable can greatly reduce the opportunity. (Brent)


Cohen & Felson’s (1979) Routine Activities Theory – This one is quite popular among victimologists today who are anxious to test the theory. Briefly, it says that crime occurs whenever three conditions come together: (1) suitable targets – and we’ll always have suitable targets as long as we have poverty; (2) motivated offenders – and we’ll always have motivated offenders since victimology, unlike deterministic criminology, assumes anyone will try to get away with something if they can; and (3) absence of guardians – the problem is that there’s few defensible spaces (natural surveillance areas) and in the absence of private security, the government can’t do the job alone. (Stevens)

The phenomena that criminals and victims often have the same sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., are in relatively the same age group) is known as the propinquity hypothesis; and that criminals and victims often live in physical proximity to one another is called the proximity hypothesis. (Stevens)


Brent, M., The Routine Activities Theory in Delinquency, Retrieved from


Johnson, W., What Is the Lifestyle Theory in Criminal Justice, Retrieved from

http://www.ehow.com /about_6633747_lifestyle-theory-criminal- justice_.html

Stevens, M., 2008, Theories in Victimology, Cohen & Felson’s (1979) Routine Activities Theory,

Retrieved from


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