The international emergence of rural criminology: Implications for the development and revision of criminological theory for rural contexts

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The objectives of this article are two-fold. First, it briefly reviews the historical development of rural criminology and rural crime studies. It argues that continued development of rural criminology requires two fundamental things: (i) rural criminology must avoid dichotomies – both old (ex., gemeinschaft vs. gessellschaft) and new (ex., global south vs. global north) – because dichotomies have great potential to retard development of a comparative scholarship about crime and criminal justice issues across the diversity of rural localities found throughout the world; and (ii) rural criminology must be inclusive, embracing an international network of scholars from every region of the world, regardless of arbitrary grid lines on a globe. Second, this article argues that rural crime scholarship must develop frameworks from which theories of the "middle range" (Merton, 1957) can be developed, and in turn, theories most suited to the international development of rural criminology should allow for comparisons across diverse research settings and facilitate the synthesis of rural literatures about crime and criminal justice. Rural crime studies should continue to move toward being more theoretically diverse, more critical by linking the local to larger social forces (Mills, 1959; Young, 2011; Donnermeyer & DeKeseredy, 2014), more international in scope, and more self-aware of its history and its future. To this end, the article describes a framework for understanding rural communities (Liepins, 2000) and explains how three rural-based "middle range" criminological theories already fit within the fundamental elements of this framework. The article concludes by urging rural scholars to develop additional frameworks from which middle range theories of rural crime and criminal justice issues can be launched.



rural criminology, internationalization, community, place and crime, primary socialization theory, civic community theory, male peer support model for violence against women


International Journal of Rural Criminology, v5, n1 (November, 2019), p. 1-18