Essential Criminology

Mark M. Lanier, Stuart Henry, and Desiré J.M. Anastasia

Fourth Edition • November 18, 2014 • 422 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813348858 • $52.00 USD$67.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813348865 • $33.99 USD$33.99 CAN

Courses: , ,

More by these authors: , ,

Order an Exam or Desk Copy

In the fourth edition of Essential Criminology, authors Mark M. Lanier, Stuart Henry, and Desiré J.M. Anastasia build upon this best-selling critical review of criminology, which has become essential reading for students of criminology in the 21st century.

Designed as an alternative to overly comprehensive, lengthy, and expensive introductory texts, Essential Criminology is, as its title implies, a concise overview of the field. The book guides students through the various definitions of crime and the different ways crime is measured. It then covers the major theories of crime, from individual-level, classical, and rational choice to biological, psychological, social learning, social control, and interactionist perspectives. In this latest edition, the authors explore the kind of criminology that is needed for the globally interdependent twenty-first century. With cutting-edge updates, illustrative real-world examples, and new study tools for students, this text is a necessity for both undergraduate and graduate courses in criminology.

A Criminological Theory Historical Timeline is available for instructors and students to use as a study tool. Click the link to access and download. The timeline presents the major theories and their theorists in chronological order and illustrates theory evolution and interconnection.

A Test Bank and Lecture Slides are available for professors who adopt the fourth edition of Essential Criminology for their courses. Please fill out the online form, and a press representative will be in touch shortly to grant access.
If you have any questions or issues, please email

Mark M. Lanier is professor and the Dean’s Assistant in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama. He is the author or editor of 12 books on crime and research methods, including Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology: A Mixed Methods Approach (Oxford University).

Stuart Henry is professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University. He is the author of over twenty books including the classic work, The Hidden Economy.

Desiré J. M. Anastasia is assistant professor of sociology at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

List of Tables and Figures
Preface and Acknowledgments

1 What Is Criminology? The Study of Crime, Criminals, and Victims in a Global Context

What is Criminology?
What is Victimology?
Summary and Conclusion
Discussion Questions

2 What is Crime? Defining the Problem

Legal Definition
Consensus and Conflict Approaches
Hagan’s Pyramid of Crime
Crime Prism
Application of the Prism to the Problem of School Violence
Crimes of the Powerless
Crimes of the Powerful
Summary and Conclusion
Discussion Questions

3 Classical, Neoclassical, and Rational Choice Theories

The Preclassical Era
The Classical Reaction
Neoclassical Revisions
Criminal Justice Implications: The Move to “Justice” Theory
Redefining Rational Choice: Situational Factors and Routine Activities Theory
Conceptual and Empirical Limitations: What the Research Shows
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Classical, Rational Choice and Routine Activities Theories
Discussion Questions

4 “Born to Be Bad”: Biological, Physiological and Biosocial Theories of Crime

Biological and Positivistic Assumptions
The Born Criminal
Early U.S. Family-Type and Body-Type Theories
Contemporary Biological Perspectives
Biosocial Criminology: A Developmental Explanation of Crime
Conceptual and Empirical Limitations
Criminal Justice Policy Implications
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Biological Theory
Discussion Questions

5 Criminal Minds: Psychiatric and Psychological Explanations for Crime

From Sick Minds to Abnormal Behavior
Shared Psychological Assumptions
The Psychoanalytic Approach
Trait-Based Personality Theories
Behavioral, Situational, and Social Learning and Modeling Theories
Cognitive Theories
Ecological Psychology
Evolutionary Psychology
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Psychological Theories of Crime
Discussion Questions

6 Learning Criminal Behavior: Social Process Theories

Common Themes and Different Assumptions
Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory
Cognitive Social Learning
Neutralization Theory: Learning Rationalizations as Motives
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Social Process Theories
Discussion Questions

7 Failed Socialization: Control Theory, Social Bonds, and Labeling

Control Theory: Learning not to Commit Crime
Labeling Theory: A Special Case of Failed Socialization?
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Control Theory and Labeling Theory
Discussion Questions

8 Crimes of Place: Social Ecology and Cultural Theories of Crime

The Historical Roots of Social Ecology Theory
Common Themes and Assumptions
The Chicago School
The New Social Ecology Theories
Cultural Theories of Crime and Deviance
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Social Ecology Theory and Culture Conflict Theory
Discussion Questions

9 The Sick Society: Anomie, Strain, and Subcultural Theory

Common Themes and Assumptions
Founders of Anomie and Strain Theory
Recent Revisions to Anomie and Strain Theory
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Anomie and Strain Theory
Discussion Questions

10 Capitalism as a Criminogenic Society: Conflict and Radical Theories of Crime

Common Themes and Assumptions and some Key Differences
The Roots of Conflict Criminology
Contemporary Conflict Criminology
The Roots of Radical Theory: Marx’s Analysis of Capitalist Society
Contemporary Radical Criminology
Central Themes and Assumptions
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Conflict Theory and Radical Theory
Discussion Questions

11 Patriarchy, Gender and Crime: Feminist Criminological Theory

Common Themes and Assumptions
Liberal Feminism
Radical Feminism
Marxist Feminism
Socialist Feminism
Gendered Theory
Epistemological Issues and Postmodern Feminism
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Feminist Theory
Discussion Questions

12 New Directions in Critical Criminological Theory

Critical Criminologies
Summary and Conclusion
Summary Chart: Left Realism, Postmodern/Constitutive Theory and Abolition/Peacemaking Restorative Justice
Discussion Questions

13 Conclusion: Toward a Unified Criminology

Integrative Criminologies
Reciprocal-Interactive Integrative Criminology
Robert Agnew’s Unifying Criminology
Summary and Conclusion
Discussion Questions


Praise for previous editions:

“Comprehensive, accessible, engaging, and concise, covering key theories from conservative to critical with very useful early chapters on defining criminology, crime, and crime data. Each subsequent chapter includes a succinct overview of a set of core theories, an illuminating section on limitations and policy implications, and a precise summary of key points (including basic idea, human nature, society and social order, causality, criminal justice policy and practice, and evaluation). Unlike many texts, this inclusion provides the student and the well-versed abundant opportunities for engagement and critical dialogue. No text on theories of crime on the market can compete with the extensive and precise coverage of core theories in crime causation along with the seductive encouragement to actively engage the respective theories. Essential Criminology is also futuristic, providing the grounds for constructive critical engagement with emerging perspectives. This will not only appeal to students but also to those well-versed seeking a comprehensive, critical reference text. Three cheers for the innovative and comprehensive exposition and critique!”

—Dr. Dragan Milovanovic, Justice Studies, Northeastern Illinois University

“Essential Criminology is essential reading for anybody-student, scholar, or lay person-who is curious about crime and the world in the 21st century. In this new and revised edition, Lanier and Henry incorporate significant changes that are occurring in an age of globalization. Changes that even since the first edition was published in 1997 are affecting the way in which we see and study crime today. Employing an historical and comparative framework, these authors have also expanded upon their original theses and analyses for examining the evolving field of criminology, yielding what I would contend is the most inclusive and balanced theory text available.”

—Gregg Barak, Eastern Michigan University

“Essential Criminology is a wonderful introductory textbook, and should one desire a more in-depth study of criminology, it offers 43 pages of reference materials.”

—Wisconsin Lawyer

“Represents the first important shift in the content and presentation of introductory criminology textbooks in over 29 years. Students at the college level receive an introduction to the past wealthy of criminological thought as well as new ideas on the topic. This simplifies arguments and perspectives yet contains all the overview of important issues central to criminology theory.

—The Bookwatch

“Essential Criminology represents a significant advancement in our approach to educating students about the definition and use of different criminological perspectives. By presenting the major theoretical perspectives in simplified language and by the use of modern-day examples and current research findings, students are able to develop a more meaningful understanding for the role that theory plays in the development and implementation of crime policy.”

—Lynette Lee-Sammns, California State University, Scaramento

“Essential Criminology is the first important shift in the content and presentation of introductory criminology textbooks in over two decades. Survey textbooks should do two things: teach students the basics and discuss where future directions are leading us. The majority do the former but ignore the latter. Lanier and Henry accomplish both. Comprehensive and future-oriented, the book provides the introductory student the broad brush of criminological thought within the context of new and expanded ideas. Students will enjoy Essential Criminology because it makes difficult concepts easy to understand without leveling down, uses examples akin to today’s student’s experience, and carries the theme of crime as harm in any kind across every page of every chapter. A first-rate textbook.”

—John Ortiz Smykla, University of Alabama

“Lanier and Henry have written a superb introductory text. Students and instructors will find Essential Criminology engrossing from start to finish. Thee authors straightforward yet comprehensive treatment of crime reflects the multidisciplinary nature of criminological theory and practice as it provides readers with a strong foundation for the study of crime.”

—Gregg Barak, Eastern Michigan University

“This is the book I have been searching for for years—a criminology text which focuses on theory, is clear, concise, and affordable. At the same time it is substantive and comprehensive.”

—Barbara Lavin, Marist College

If you are a professor or course instructor, please use the following form to give us feedback on Essential Criminology: