Structuration, human development and desistance from crime
AbstractUnderstanding how and why offenders stop committing offences is crucial for the development of effective crime prevention and criminal justice practices. Yet desistance has been the subject of little empirical research and relatively neglected by theory. In this article, the authors attempt to move beyond existing approaches to desistance which are limited by a tendency to focus on either aspects of human agency (e.g. decision making) or aspects of social structure (e.g. employment status and family responsibilities). Drawing on structuration and human development theories, and an examination of existing research on the ending of criminal careers, this article works towards an integrated theory of desistance. Empirical data drawn from a study of 34 life histories are used to illustrate the potential of a theory that combines an analysis of individual decisions and structural constraints. The authors present evidence to suggest that changes in the relative level and nature of individual power offers a new avenue of research for those wishing to explain desistance.