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16 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 1 (1979)

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                 Editor's Comments



  To  one observing trends in crime and delinquency research and writing, a
puzzling characteristic of the last decade-a decade which has seen the rate of
publication in this field describe an almost geometric progression-has been
the relative lack of development  of etiological theory. The new  crimi-
nologists of recent vintage, avowedly concerned with fundamental explana-
tions, address issues at a level of analysis which at best is not very helpful in
engaging questions of individual- or group-level variations in criminal and de-
linquent behavior.
  A  number of possible explanations for the lack of elaboration of causal theo-
ry can be offered. One is the relatively small concern that funding agencies,
both governmental  and private, have shown for such activity within the last
decade. Whether  this is a function of a mission-oriented mentality (one of
the great disservices to the advancement of science may have been our capabili-
ty of actually landing someone on the moon!) or the inevitable consequence of
a decade concerned with the immediate control of crime and delinquency (war
was President Johnson's metaphor), the result has been marginal support for
efforts aimed at uncovering fundamental causal relationships.
  Another  explanation has less to do with the availability of resources and
more  with the periodic nature of advances in fundamental theories. As Kuhn
has suggested, it simply takes time to absorb, elaborate, and explore theoretical
statements, creating the base of research and data necessary for a next advance.
Clearly, the last ten years have seen the growth of methodology and new data
bases, and the stage may well be set for a new breakthrough in etiological
theory.
  The  lead article in this issue of the Journal does not so much represent a
fundamental shift in the direction of theoretical development as it signifies an
elaboration. But it is an important attempt grounded in a good deal of em-
pirical research. Delbert Elliott and his colleagues suggest an integrating
framework  for two leading current explanations of delinquent behavior. The
persons offering commentaries on  this paper must be numbered among  the
leading theorists in crime and delinquency. James Short, whose seminal work
with gangs has shaped much of our understanding of processes by which delin-
quent behavior is adopted, and Travis Hirschi, who explicated control theory
in one of its most influential forms, both find limitations in the formulations
of Elliott et al. But both also find a vigor of argument that tests their analytical
powers, all of which makes for exciting and interesting reading.
  Michael Gottfredson's article, written in a wry style, raises some important
questions about whether so-called data which indicate that rehabilitation does
not work  have been adequately interpreted. Gottfredson makes a number of
telling points about the conclusions drawn from data on the use of treatment.
This article deserves the close attention of those who are concerned with the
issue of the efficacy of rehabilitation.


JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, January 1979


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