AuthorNelson, Steven Mark
Committee ChairMolm, Linda D.
McPherson, J. Miller
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study argues for the need of a testable general symbolic interactionist theory of criminal behavior. I look to affect control theory, a structural symbolic interactionist theory of behavior focused on the cybernetic maintenance of affective meanings shared within a linguistic group and extrapolate from its statements and equations using a large hypothetical event simulation. Employing a novel story-telling interview method to uncover the process of definition of the situation, I interview twenty-five paroled offenders and describe a typical view of criminal actions in both violent and property crime events. I examine this view for criminogenic potential. Next, I investigate the popular view that identity controls behavior in interaction by asking parolees about themselves, and comparing their self perspectives to those of undergraduate students. No support for this view is found. Implications of different culturally-based meaning systems are then examined by measuring affective meanings of criminal events as they are perceived by three different aggregate groups: paroled offenders, probationary offenders, and undergraduate student non-offenders. Affect control predictions about the likelihood of criminal events given these perspectives are found to be in accordance with the relative surmised likelihood of criminal behavior for these groups, as extrapolated from their past behavior. This supports arguments of a culturally based explanation of criminal behavior. I argue that affect control theory presents criminology with the novel potential for a generative theory of crime that integrates micrological and macrological levels of analysis. Finally I outline a proposed affect control theory of crime for further testing.