Sociology Index


Cause are features or characteristics which might produce a particular effect. For example, features that might cause an individual to commit a crime.

Causal analysis is a positivist approach to criminology. In order for something to be a cause it must meet three criteria:  the cause must happen before the effect; there must be a correlation between the causal variable and the effect variable; all other possible reasons for the correlation must be entertained and discarded.

Storylines As a Neglected Cause of Crime - Robert Agnew, Emory University 
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 43, No. 2, 119-147 (2006)
Researchers usually explain individual offending in terms of background factors like low self-control and association with delinquent peers. Such factors reflect the routine or typical aspects of the individual's life over an extended period of time and they influence the individual's predisposition for crime.

Researchers also sometimes explain offending in terms of situational crime factors, which reflect the features of the situation immediately before a crime occurs and influence the commission of crime in that situation. But that temporal level between background and situational factors is largely ignored. The author refers to this level as "storylines." Storylines begin with some event that is out of the ordinary, and this event temporarily alters the individual's characteristics, interactions, and/or settings for interaction inways that increase the likelihood of crime. This article draws on the qualitative research on crime and the leading crime theories to identify the major storylines conducive to crime, and it points to the important role that storylines can play in understanding the causes of crime and in efforts to control crime. 

The Invention of Television as a Cause of Homicide 
The Reification of a Spurious Relationship 
GARY F. JENSEN, Vanderbilt University - Homicide Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, 114-130 (2001)
Among the studies cited by several medical associations as a guide for warning parents about the pernicious effects of television is Brandon Centerwall's (1992) analysis of the effect of the invention and distribution of television on homicide rates. Centerwall claims that the introduction of television substantially increased homicide rates in the United States and Canada and that they remained relatively stable in South Africa until the ban on television was lifted. This article reports the results of a multivariate time-series analysis testing the alternative hypothesis that relationships involving primary groups are more important for understanding variations in homicide over time than the spread of television in a society. This hypothesis is supported in all three societies, with the significant positive effect of television reduced to insignificance after incorporating marriage-divorce ratios, divorce rates, and other variables.