Week 2: Theoretical perspectives


This week covers key concepts within victimology, including

  • victim blaming
  • victim precipitation
  • victim defending
  • the ‘ideal victim’
Controversial Home Office and NHS alcohol campaign poster.

Theoretical perspectives: summary

Conservative victimology
• We are all responsible for ourselves – victims and offenders alike
• Self reliance rather than governmental assistance
• Crime control model

Liberal victimology
• Includes ideas around corporate social responsibility
• ‘safety net’ provided by government

Radical left/critical victimology
• Exploitation and oppression throughout social system causes victimisation
• CJS considered part of the problem

Just world theory
• We have a cognitive bias that suggests that people get what they deserve
• Noble actions are eventually rewarded, evil actions eventually punished
• Links with victim blaming (see below)

Life course perspective
• Uses elements from biology, sociology and psychology to explain life of crime
• Includes general theory of crime (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990) the role of alcohol (e.g. Tjaden and Thoennes, 2006) and genetics (e.g. Beaver et al. 2007)
• Some elements have recently been adapted to examine victims rather than offenders

Rational choice theory
– A crime occurs when three elements come together in time and space
– These three elements are
o A motivated offender
o A suitable target
o The absence of a capable guardian against the offence
– This explains how people’s daily activities can have an influence on their risk of becoming a victim
– This is good because we can use this to develop ways of reducing risk
– But it runs the risk of victim blaming

Victim Blaming
– It is the victim’s fault for being victimised
– E.g. they left their window open, so were at fault for having their laptop stolen
– E.g. she was wearing a skirt and caught the bus at night so it was her fault she was raped
– NOT an accepted victimological position!

– BUT…

– discussions of vulnerability and risk are important, and often end in accusations of victim blaming
– E.g. you can reduce your risk of having your laptop stolen by not leaving it sight near an open window

Victim precipitation
• Wolfgang (1958)
• This is where the victim does share the blame for the crime E.g. in a fight, Bob throws the first punch but misses – Andy then retaliates and breaks Bob’s nose. Both Andy and Bob are at fault, although Bob may be seen as the victim.
• Care needs to be taken to avoid assumptions
• We often talk about victim precipitation where an offender has been provoked into a set of actions
• This may be seen as a mitigating circumstance in court
• E.g. Jane was repeatedly assaulted by her husband, and eventually retaliated and killed him.
• This may or may not be seen as pre-meditated murder, dependant on the exact circumstances of the crime.
• In this example, both Jane and her husband could be viewed as the victim.

Victim facilitation
• Not blame
• Not precipitation
• Links with lifestyle theories
• E.g. leave the door of house open and laptop on show

Victim defending
• Whilst we try to avoid ‘victim blaming’, the concept of ‘victim defending’ can also be harmful
• This is where a victim cannot be portrayed or perceived as doing any wrong (e.g. the Fiona Pilkington case)

We can get so passionate about defending the rights of the victim, we forget about the rights of the accused (e.g. Christopher Jefferies in the Joanna Yeates case)

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1_LRmmdUODgmKM1Lw6EWPAjE9NeaXjVVS7aLPjwOuJ8s/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000″ size=”medium”]

Relevant links:
[postlist cat=”concepts,theory,week-2″ requesttype=”0″ number=”-1″]