SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Rocque, M., & Posick, C. (2017). Paradigm shift or normal science? The future of (biosocial) criminology. Theoretical Criminology, 21, 288–303.

Abstract: For much of the history of criminology, tension has existed between sociologically oriented and biologically oriented perspectives. In recent years, a new, more nuanced approach has emerged which attempts to take both perspectives seriously and integrate them into a biosocial criminology. Yet, it remains, in large part, a fringe field of study. We argue that this is due, primarily, to critical as well as supportive scholars’ views that the ‘biosocial’ perspective represents a paradigm shift in the field of criminology. In this article, drawing on our work with the late Nicole Rafter, we present a case that rather than a paradigm shift, this biosocial turn simply represents a maturing field. In doing so, we describe the ways in which biosocial criminology examines crime and antisocial behavior as a biological and social phenomenon. At the same time, we also point out some cautions with respect to this body of work. We conclude with a vision of the future of (biosocial) criminology.

Journal Article 2: Miller, H. V., & Barnes, J. C. (2013). Genetic transmission effects and intergenerational contact with the criminal justice system: A consideration of three dopamine polymorphisms. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 40, 671–689.

Abstract: Parental incarceration has been linked to a wide range of negative intergenerational consequences, including involvement in the criminal justice system. Prior research indicates that those who experience episodes of parental incarceration during childhood are significantly more likely to report contact with the police, arrest, conviction, and incarceration. There remains, however, considerable debate as to whether these relationships are causal or merely correlational. Although many theoretical frameworks offer guidance in understanding these associations (e.g., social learning, strain, labeling), less work has focused on genetic risk factors. Using data from a nationally representative sample of American youth, we conduct a series of analyses to assess whether genetic risk factors, measured by three dopamine polymorphisms (DAT1, DRD2, and DRD4) confound the association between paternal incarceration and child’s arrest and incarceration. Results suggest that genetic risk may confound the relationship between father’s incarceration and child’s arrest but not incarceration. These findings are discussed relative to theoretical development and existing empirical evidence. Directions for future research in this vein are also presented.

Journal Article 3: Walsh, A., & Yun, I. Epigenetics and allostasis: Implications for criminology. Criminal Justice Review, 39, 411–431.

Abstract: The purpose of this review article is to show how sociological theories of criminal behavior can be illuminated by drawing on insights from epigenetics and the concept of allostasis. The burgeoning field of epigenetics has the promise of burying whatever lingering fears about “genetic determinism” some criminologists may still have. Epigenetics concerns itself with environmental conditions that regulate the transcript and expression of genes and is a discipline that can be of enormous use to criminology because it emphasizes the plasticity of the human genome. We know that the brain is amazingly plastic and a major target for epigenetic modification. All stimuli must be funneled to the brain before a behavioral response is initiated. Because the brain and the systems of stress response—the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and the autonomic nervous system (ANS)—are designed for plasticity, they are highly vulnerable to epigenetic and allostatic changes when exposed to environmental experiences that are evolutionarily novel. The downregulation of systems of behavioral control (dopamine/serotonin ratios and hyporeactive HPA axis and ANS) has frequently and strongly shown to be related to criminal behavior. This article outlines how these changes occur, and why they occur most frequently in deprived environments. We believe that an understanding of how criminogenic environments “get into” the person molecularly can plug gaps in poverty- and control-based theories of criminal behavior. We present this article in the spirit of biosocial criminology which avers that the more we come to understand and appreciate the biology of behavior, the more we realize the importance of the environment.