Routine Activity Theory

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Routine activity theory is a sub-field of rational choice[->0] and criminology[->1], developed by Marcus Felson[->2] and Lawrence E. Cohen[->3]. Routine activity theory says that crime[->4] is normal and depends on the opportunities available. If a target is not protected enough, and if the reward is worth it, crime will happen. Crime does not need hardened offenders, super-predators, convicted felons or wicked people. Crime just needs an opportunity. The basic premise of routine activity theory is that most crimes are petty theft[->5] and unreported to the police[->6]. Crime is neither spectacular nor dramatic. It is mundane and happens all the time. Another premise is that crime is relatively unaffected by social causes such as poverty[->7], inequality[->8], unemployment[->9]. For instance, after World War II[->10], the economy of Western countries was booming and the Welfare states were expanding. During that time, crime rose significantly. According to Felson and Cohen, this is because the prosperity of contemporary society offers so much opportunities of crime: there is much more to steal. Routine activity theory can also help explain the dramatic rise in crime during the 1960s. Due to the increase in female participation in the labor market, the homes are left without a capable guardian as adult caretakers at home during the day decreased. Furthermore, rapid growth of suburbs and the decline of more traditional neighborhood, led to the decline of informal controls that would have once existed with a tightly-knit neighborhood. Lastly, with the baby-boom generation[->11] coming of age in the 1960s to the 1980s, it amounted to an excessive number of motivated offenders and crime rate predictable increased in a similar manner. With such changes in the nuclear family, more and more youths were lacking supervision, especially when both parents worked outside the home; the number of temptations increased for youth to commit crimes.[1] Routine activity theory is...
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