Education free essay: Lifestyle Theory vs. the Routine Activities Theory
Lifestyle Theory vs. the Routine Activities Theory
The lifestyle theory and the routine activities theory describe how and why people become victims of crime. The two theories are related in the sense that they focus on micro-factors and behaviors the put people at a risk of becoming crime victims. However, the theories differ in the way they perceive the factors that lead people to become crime victims, as explained in this paper.
The lifestyle theory was developed by Hindelang, Garofalo, and Gottredson in 1978. The theory posits that people’s lifestyle behaviors expose them to crimes, rendering them crime victims. Peers group and leisure activities can expose an individual to a crime. For instance, people who are fond of passing through risky places at night to go to night clubs are likely to become crime victims. Also, a person with a habit of closing his job very late at night and he carries cash when going home is at a high risk of becoming a crime victim. Thus, the lifestyle theory is based on the notion that individuals’ habits contribute to making them crime victims.
Conversely, the routine activities theory describes three things that contribute to making an individual a crime victim. The first thing is that there must be a motivated offender who is ready to commit a crime. Second, there must be a suitable crime target. Third, there must be the absence of a guardian who would prevent a crime from occurring. The theory suggests that crime victimization is influenced by the routine activities that people engage in daily, which provide an offender a suitable opportunity to commit a crime.
Consider, for instance, a situation in which a girl is raped by her uncle when her parents are at the market during a holiday. In that situation, the uncle is the motivated offender, and the girl is a suitable target. The parents are the guardians. The girl may have been doing routine household chores at home, and that is why she did not go to the market with the parents. The uncle is at home probably because it is a holiday and thus, he is engaging in a routine activity. The parents have the tendency to go to the market during holidays and thus, they are also engaging in a routine activity. In that case, engaging in routine activities has contributed in making the girl a crime victim.
Despite having differences, the routine activities theory and the lifestyle theory have related elements. First, both focus on habits or routine activities that people engage in. The lifestyle theory posits that routine activities that a person engages in expose him or her to crime, just like the routine activities theory. The most significant element of the two theories is that both suggest that crime victimization is caused by micro-factors. The micro-factors described in the two theories are lifestyle behaviors and routine activities. Thus, the two theories do not suggest that macroeconomic factors such as unemployment and financial statuses contribute to crime victimization.
Overall, the routine activities theory and lifestyle theory have similar elements. Both describe habits and routine activities as the factors that influence crime victimization. Also, the two theories focus on micro-factors, and they disregard the impact of the macro-factors. The difference between the two theories emerges from the fact that the lifestyle theory concentrates on lifestyle habits as the causalities of crime victimization while the routine activities theory concentrates on routine activities.
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