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A Rational Choice Approach to Professional Crime Using a Meta synthesis of the Qualitative Literature by Douglas J. Wholl A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Criminology College of Behavioral and Community Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Wilson R. Palacios, Ph.D. John K Cochran, Ph.D. Christine S. Sellers, Ph.D. Date of Appr oval: April 6 2009 Keywords: criminal decision making, ethnography, grounded theory, theory elaboration Copyright 200 9 Douglas J. Wholl
Dedication I would not have been able to reach the end of this journey without the understanding, love, and support of my friends and family. Thank you all for being there for me through this challenging process
Acknowledgements The succes sful completion of this thesis could not have been accomplished without the knowledge and guidance of my thesis committee I would like to thank Dr s Cochran and Palacios for encouraging my involvement in the Professional Thieves Working Group, which both sparked my interest in this offender group and allowed me to become immersed in the literature on professional crime early in my graduate career. Dr. insights into the ability of the rational choice perspective to serve as a guiding t heoretical framework capable of synthesizing concepts from multiple disciplines became a central theme for my thesis and his constant input and guidance had significant impact on my research and methodological decisions throughout the thesis process Thi s thesis would also not have been possible without Dr. Palacios discovery of a methodological technique that could be effectively implemented within the current study. I would also like to thank Dr. Sellers for her guidance with respect to keeping the o bjectives of my thesis focused and prioritized in a way that would offer the greatest benefit to the criminological literature. I would also like to give special thanks to Dr. Palacios, who became my qualitative mentor as I embarked upon this demanding bu t worthwhile journey. Finally, I would like to thank the faculty and graduate students within the Department of Criminology who offered me academic and emotional support throughout this entire process
i Table of Contents List of Tables iv List of Figures v Abstract v i C hapter One Introduction 1 Statement of the Problem 4 Chapt er Two Literature Review 8 The Von Neumann Morgen stern Expected Utility Model 8 Economics 10 Contemporary Studies 11 Deterrence 13 Cognitive Psychology 18 Sociology of Choice 20 Environmental Criminology 22 A Synthesis of Disciplines 23 The Rational Choice Perspective 25 Expanding the Expected Utility Model 28 Risk Perceptions, Risk Management, Target Selection, and the Criminal Decision Making Process 31 Fear, Coping, and the Criminal Career 35 Criticisms of the Rational Choice Perspective 39 Overly Simplistic Cost B enefit Model 39 Disregard of Psychological or Emotional Factors 40 Unrealistic Assertion or Rationality 40 Suggestions for Strengthening or Replacing the RCP 41 Responses to Criticisms 42 Rational Choice and Professional Criminals 46 White Collar, Corp orate, and Organized Crime 46 Empirical 47 A Rational Choice A pproach to Professional Criminals 50 Purpose of the Study 52
ii Chapter Three Methods 5 4 Grounded Theory 55 Th eory Elaboration 56 Thick Description 57 A Qualitative Meta s ynthesis 58 Sample 6 3 Case Selection 63 Boundary Condi tions for Case Requirements 65 Characteristics of the Studies 66 Analytic Plan 75 Theoretical Concepts and Coding Process 80 Expected Util ity 8 1 Rational Cho ice Considerations 8 4 Line of Argument Synth esis 10 3 Chapter Four Results 10 6 Appraisal 10 6 Books E xcluded from the F inal L ine of Argument S ynthesis 10 9 Revised Operationalizations 11 3 The Synthesis 11 6 Final Appraisal Process 11 7 Operationalization Counts 11 8 Findings from the Operationalization Counts 11 9 Recognizing Similarities, Differences, Patterns & Themes 12 4 Key Descriptors 12 6 Creation of Metaphors 13 1 Larceny Sense 13 2 Respect 13 3 Networks 13 3 P restige Hierarchy 13 3 Subculture 13 4 Money 13 4 Ad venturous Deviance 13 5 Competitive Play 13 5 Loop holes of Morality 13 6 Commitment 13 6 Ca reer Oscillations 13 7 Adeq uacy of Metaphors 13 8 Line of Argument Synthesis 13 9 Chapter Five Discussion & Conclusion 1 4 4 Explanatory Power of the RCP 1 4 4 Efficacy of Operational Enhancements to the RCP 1 4 7 Conceptualization of Pro fessional Criminals 14 8 Professional Crime in a Historical Context 1 50
iii Meta synthesis Process C orresponding to a Four Phase Model of Qualitative Research 1 5 1 Reliability and Validity 15 3 Limitations 15 7 Conclusions 15 9 References 16 1 Ap pendices 1 69 Appendix A: Books Included in the Final Line of Argument Synthesis 1 70 Appendix B: Op erationalization Counts 17 1
iv List of Tables Table 1 Study Characteristics 76 Table 2 Economic Origins Concepts & Operationalizations 8 2 Table 3 Rational Choice Concepts & Operationalizations ( Synthesis era and beyond) 8 6 Table 4 Key Desc riptors 12 8
v List of Figures Figure 1 Averages of Operationalization Counts 1 20 Figure 2 Line of Argument Syn thesis 1 40 Figure 3 Meta synthesis Process Corresponding to a Four Phase Model of Qualitative Research 1 5 2
vi A Rational Choice Approach to Professional Crime Using a Meta synthesis of the Qualitative Literature Douglas J. Wholl ABSTRACT Since the early 18 th century, rational choice models have been applied extensively to criminological research, theory, and policy in an effort to understand crime and criminality. Over the past few decades, the rational choice perspective has attempted to integrate theoretic al concepts, operational measures, and research findings from contemporary studies within the psychology, sociol ogy and criminology disciplines, which have attempted to re operationalize what was already conceptualized in the expected u tility model ( i.e., individuals choose to engage in criminal activity if the expected utility of crime exceeds that of all other behavioral options) by incorporating additional factors ( e.g., a broader range of potential rewards, moral inhibition, emotional elements) into the measurement process However, despite an effort to expand the expected utility function in the rational choice perspective rational choice studies have most often been applied to street offenders. Using a sample of six books containing the lives and ex periences of professional c riminals, this study utilizes a qualitative meta synthesis ( in which grounded theory methods and thick description are employed for the identification and integration of key concepts from within the sample ) to examine the effecti veness of the rational choice perspective in the explanation of professional crime,
vii and assess the efficacy of these operational enhancements while providing conceptual clarity within the rational choice perspective
1 Chapter 1 Introduction Since the early 18 th century, rational choice models have been applied extensively to criminological research, theory, and policy in an effort to understand crime and criminality. Derived from economic models of expected utility, rational choice models of crime propose that individuals choose to engage in criminal activity if the expected utility of cri me exceeds that of all other behavioral options (Clarke & Cornish, 1985; Clarke & may be affected by social, psychological and situational factors (Clarke & Cornish, 1985; Clarke & Cornish, 1986). The rational choice perspective (RCP) offers a theoretical framework for explaining the rationality of individual choice, and its theoretical explanatory power has grown substantially over the past few decades (McCarthy, 20 02). While early rational choice models built around the expected utilities (EU) function have often been criticized as being limited by their simplistic cost benefit analysis in the criminal decision making process, these early models were actually desig ned to neglect specifying some cost and benefit variables in order to simplify the measurement process (Von Nuemann & Morgenstern, 1953). In other words, economists who organized their models around the EU function intentionally refrained from measuring c oncepts such as emotion, experience or the specific perceived costs and
2 benefits of a criminal act as separate variables because it was believed that simplifying the measurement process in this respect would provide satisfactory operational measures witho ut sacrificing conceptual clarity. Over the past few decades, contemporary studies within the psychology, sociology and criminology disciplines have attempted to re operationalize what was already conceptualized in the EU model, and have incorporated add itional factors ( e.g., a broader range of potential rewards, moral inhibition, emotional elements) into the measurement process that An attempt to create a synthesis of th ese measures and research findings took place in the mid which proposed that in order to gain a full understanding of the offender decision making process it was first necessary to exam ine the commonalities between the theoretical concepts and operational measures of these disciplines and explore how contemporary concepts of human rationality and the process of choice could be connected within a rational choice framework through the orig inal concept of expected utility (Clarke & Cornish, 1985; Cornish & Clarke, 1986; Grasmick & Bursik, 1990, Cochran et al, 1990; Clarke & Felson, 1993). The new RCP framework was designed with the intention of studying the criminal decision making process ( i.e., bounded) rationality, having a crime specific focus and making the distinction between criminal involvement and criminal events (Clarke & Cornish, 1985, p. 178). Cornish and Clark e to the development of the RCP framework, including such prominent works as The Reasoning Criminal (1986) which advanced notions of rational choice and reasoning offenders through the integration of several
3 theoretical strong points from several discipline s, heavily influenced the advancement of contemporary RCP models over the next few decades. The explanatory power of the RCP has been recognized as exceptionally versatile in its application to a wide variety of criminological phenomena (Cornish & Clarke 1986; Clarke & Felson, 1993). However, from its inception and throughout its evolution, the RCP has most widely been applied to the study of street crime (Shover & Hochstetler, 2006). While empirical findings on the decision making processes of street criminals have led to important theoretical developments and criminal justice policy initiatives, there is an extremely large gap in the RCP literature concerning the choices and decision making processes of professional criminals. Some research has been conducted on white collar, corporate, or organized crime within an RCP framework and has demonstrated that these offenders engage in more rational decision making processes than street criminals, are not consumed by drugs or other self destructive behavior s, and can delay short term self gratification for more long term rewards (Shover & Routhe, 2005). The efficacy of studying professional criminals within an RCP framework remains to be sufficiently addressed. ( e.g., thieves, fences, drug dealers) who share several commonalities: in addition to viewing crime as a career, offenders within these groups often exhibit higher levels of organization, risk management and rational ity than what may be seen in the criminal activity of street offenders, thereby offering them greater levels of status and success (Sutherland, 1937; Klockars, 1974; Steffensmeier, 1986; Adler, 1993; Chambliss, 2004; Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005) Although this offender group is well suited for a study
4 embracing concepts of rational choice (due to the levels of rationality exhibited in their decision making processes and risk management strategies), professional criminals comprise an offender group rarely st udied in criminology due to their hidden nature The statement of the problem below addresses how the current study attempts to utilize a qualitative meta synthesis in a sample of professional criminals to address the research objectives of the current st udy. Statement of the Problem The periodical assessment of theory is an important endeavor to undertake in the (Cullen, Wright, & Blevins, 2006 p. 2 ). Cull en et al. (2006) recognize that such endeavors are rare within the field of criminology, yet necessary in order While meta analysis has been demonstrated as a usefu l analytic technique to formulate such assessments (see Cullen et al., 2006) it is inappropriate to use for qualitative studies. Research that addresses the lives and decision making processes of professional criminals (especially within an RCP framework ) is mostly available in the form of ethnographic accounts and other forms of qualitative material. RCP, a qualitative meta synthesis is implemented within the current study in an effort to assess the explanatory pow er of the RCP with respect to the decision making processes and criminal activity of professional criminals. Unlike meta analyses of quantitative data, which attempt to reduce data findings to a unit of commonality and are aggregative in nature, qualitati ve meta synthesis aims to enhance theory through the development of possible interpretations of the data and the integration of such concepts (Noblit & Hare,
5 1988; Sandelowski et al., 1997). In other words, while quantitative meta analysis is concerned wi th data synthesis, a qualitative meta synthesis focuses on synthesizing the substance of the data and bringing to light conceptual themes which, as a whole, are T he curr ent study also attempts to offer conceptual clarity within the RCP. While the RCP finds its origins in the e xpected u tility model, contemporary studies within several disciplines ( e.g., psychology, sociolog y, criminology) have identified operational shor tcomings within the EU formula. Specifically, these studies attempted to incorporate additional factors into the measurement process in an effort to operationally specify the conceptual components of offender decision making withi n the EU formula, and in turn present a more thorough exploration of the offender decision making process between the concepts and measures of these disciplines and connect them within a rational ch oice framework that emphasizes human rationality and notions of crime as choice In addition to assessing the efficacy of the RCP with respect to the explanation of professional crime, a meta synthesis of the qualitative literature on professional crimina ls is utilized in the current study in an effort to assess the utility of these operational enhancements As a result of this process, the current study intends to offer conceptual clarity within the RCP framework by clarifying concepts that have often been taken for granted within the framework. The review of the literature and the methodological framework of the current study are outlined below. Chapter 2 begins with a comprehensive review of the rational choice literature, starting with the Von Nuemann Morgenstern expected u tility (EU) model and
6 progressing to economic and deterrence models of criminal offending. An exploration of the literature from several disciplines ( e.g., cognitive psychology, sociology, environmental criminology) i s then presented in this chapter with respect to how these disciplines have contributed to the RCP in their own attempt to operationally expand the expected utility function and further how these contributions were then synthesized within a rational cho ice framework of criminal offending. After identifying the core theoretical principles of the RCP and exploring how the incorporation of additional measures ( i.e., the specification of variables within the EU function) into the framework has affected the study of the offender decision making process, this chapter addresses several criticisms of the RCP, recommendations for strengthening or replacing the perspective, and some responses to these challenges. The chapter concludes by presenting a review of th e research on white collar, corporate, and organized crime relevant to the RCP, as well as addressing the efficacy of using the RCP in a qualitative study of professional crime. s tudy characteristics are provided and justification for the purposive case selection process is offered. This chapter also describes the key concepts and coding procedures used within the meta synthesis process and how these data will be synthesized using a line of argument approach. Chapter 4 begins with an examination of the appraisal process that resulted in the exclusion of several books in the sample from the final synthesis. Operationalizations of RCP categories which have been added, revised or fur ther specified during the global review process are also examined. This chapter presents the findings of the synthesis,
7 beginning with an examination of the prevalence of specific operationalizations and an exploration of the similarities and differences between the books in the final sample. Next, this chapter explores patterns and themes across the sample as a whole, and identifies key descriptors extracted from the data, which leads to the creation of metaphors that are integrated within the final line of argument synthesis. Chapter 5 presents a discussion and concluding remarks of the study. The purpose of the study is revisited, with an examination of how these objectives were approached in the research process. Interpretations of the findings are o ffered, followed by an examination of the reliability and validity of the study The limitations of the study are also presented, followed by concluding remarks that identify future research possibilities in the area of the RCP and assess the utility of a pplying a qualitative meta synthesi s to criminological phenomena.
8 Chapter Two Literature Review A review of the literature on rational choice begins by exploring the economic origins of the RCP, beginning with the Von Nuemann Morgenstern expected u tility (EU) model. The Von Nuemann Morgenstern Expected Utility Model Von Nuemann and Morgenstern (1953) argue that there is no reason why economics should not include the use of mathematics. They claim that any lack of success in using mathem atics in economics has been due to the ambiguity in economic concepts and the misuse of mathematical tools, and not due to the lack of incorporating Von Nuemann & Morgenstern, 1953, p. 3). Von Nuemann and Morgenstern (1953) identify the Von Nuemann & Morgenstern, 1953, p. 7). Traditional economists have identified the principle mo tivation of individuals Von Nuemann (p. 9) in the EU model is defined by the individual who attempts to achieve this maximum ( Von Nuemann & Morgenstern 1953). Von Nuemann and Morgenstern (1953) recognize the conceptual and operational complexities when addressing notions of utility and have attempted to
9 (p. 8) that may be quantified and subject to comparative mathematical analysis. preference s, as well as attitudes toward risk, which are central to models of criminal choice (Lattimore & Witte, 1986). Economists do not claim that risk taking is a i e.g., risk averse, risk neutral or risk its 2002). While there has been some debate regarding the subjective (perceived) versus the objective probabilities of possible outcomes within a situation, Lattimore and Witte (1986) note several arguments (Hey, 1979; Schoemaker, 1982) that recognize the EU distinction unnecessary. The expected utility of an action is calculated by each possible outcome by the probability that it will occur if an action is chosen, and then ( i.e., an individual is able to order all possible outcome combinations in terms of value), as well as being transitive and stable ( i.e., an preferences are influenced by ti me preferences ( i.e., level of value placed on current and future benefits) and the potential costs and benefits of the act (relative to one another),
10 which are often described as individual assessments of the potential level of satisfaction that may be ob tained (McCarthy, 2002). Theories of decision making under risk that have developed from the EU model identify that when faced with a complicated decision, an individual will cho o se an alternative that represents (p. 11) taste and forms to risk taking preferences (Schoemaker, 1980). The utility function incorporates each of these factors into the decision expected utility of a complex situation is representative of their rationality (Schoemaker, 1980). In the next section, developments of expected utility concepts within the field of economics are explored. Economics Becker (1968) useful theory of criminal behavior can dispense with special theor ies of anomie, psycho logical inadequacies, or inheritance of special traits economic models developed by Becker (1968) and other economists this choice was based on an in assessment of potential rewards from non criminal and criminal opportunities (Dahlback, 1998). In other words, an individual will choose to engage in a criminal activity if the percei ved criminal rewards outweigh the potential rewards from legal work (Dahlback, 1998). This assessment is based on the Von Neumann Morgenstern (1953) EU model, in which an individual will make a choice in an attempt to maximize the expected utility while c onsidering the probability and severity of punishment (Dahlback, 1998). Deterrence research is based on this notion of utility based choice, in that as the
11 in crimina l activity is reduced (Dahlback, 1998). Becker (1974) also demonstrates the ability of the economic theory to expand (p. 317), or objects of choice, are both consumed and produced by the family based on time, goods, and services (Becker, 1974, p. 317). Further, the family is then assumed to maximize utility based on these commodities and relative to other variables and functions within the family ( i.e., wages, time and production in and out of the home ) (Becker, 1974). Becker also contests that or understanding human behavior (p. 319), is also applicable to other socially relevan t issues such as the economic analysis of education and government regulation and politics (Becker, 1974). Contemporary Studies Dahlback (1998) contests that the temporal ordering of factors methodological problems of measurement, and causal interpreta tions of deterrence relationships ha ve led to different conclusions regarding the effect of punishment probability and severity perceptions on the choice to engage in criminal behavior. Specifically, the probability and severity of punishment has not been measured accurately with respect to risk perceptions ( i.e., the likelihood of getting caught expectations of punishment) in cross sectional or panel studies in the past (Dahlback, 1998). Dahlback (1998) therefore proposes a decision making model of expe cted utility based on the Von Nuemann incorporates perceptions of risk. Through this model, the choice whether or not to
12 engage in crime can be measured with respect to perce ptions of punishment severity and probability, as well as considerations of the utilities of non criminal and criminal alternatives and the utility of success (Dahlback, 1998). Dahlback (1998) recognizes that when individuals are making deliberate choices they do make criminal decisions that are strongly affected by products of utility values. Dahlback (1998) also recognizes that the complexities of the decision making process ( e.g., unconscious decisions, complications in identifying new information whi le dealing with concurrent effects of risk and perception of the probability and severity of punishment. In Mocan, Billups nomic model of criminal activity expanding on classical economic concepts two types of human capital are identified: legal and criminal. In this model, both legal and criminal capital can be enhanced or depreciated based on participation and investment i n legal and criminal sectors, and each sector can be influenced by the other ( i.e., time spent in each sector) criminal activity and the level of criminal human cap ital, and while both types of human of income, and the change in the level of human capital while in prison may influence post prison behavior in two ways: legal human capital can be enhanced through rehabilitation (which may decrease criminal activity after release) or criminal human capital can be enhanced through prison culture (which may in crease criminal activity after release) (Mocan et al., 2004). The benefits of switching from the criminal to the legal sector is
13 explained in this model through: the uncertainty of obtaining criminal income which encourages the acquisition of legal human capital, changes in the perceptions of punishment ( e.g., certainty, severity), and changes in the legal and criminal capital returns relative to one another (Mocan et al., 2004). Deterrence Notions of economic deterrence can landmark work On Crimes and Punishments (1764), which assert ed that punishment should be the minimum possible under the given circumstances, proportionate to the crimes, and established by la 81). In this work, Beccaria illustrated the importance of creating punishments that were proportionate to the crime committed, while considering the harm that was d one against society by the criminal. The purpose of punishment, according to Beccar ia (1986), is not to torment the criminal or undo the crime, but instead to discourage the criminal from committing new crimes and deterring others from engaging in such harmful activities as well. In this way, an appropriate punishment will impose the le ast amount of harm on the criminal but create the longest 1986). In addition, Beccaria (1986) asserted that the certainty of punishment has a much greater deterrent effect on a crimin al than the severity of punishment, in that exceedingly severe punishments would only lead to more hardened criminals and an inability to maintain a proportionate crime punishment continuum. Therefore, prompt punishments that both follow the crime in clos e temporal proximity and are proportionate to the nature of the crime/motive of the criminal will help create the association between crime and
14 punishment in the adventitious crimes in the fu ture (Beccaria, 1986). e.g., Becker, 1968), the d eterrence model arrived at the center of classical criminology in the criminal activity was counteracted by a rational calculation of the distress caused by legal penalties (Ake rs, nvolvement in illegal behavior was said to be determined by the perceived certainty of arrest and perceived severity of punishment (Grasmick & Green Jr., 1980). Ecological studies ( that studied how sanction levels and crime rates varied across time and space) and interrupted time series studies ( that studied how specific policy interventions affected specific criminal acti vity) displayed some success in identifying a negative relationship between sanction threats and crime rates (Nagin, 2002). A ssertion s of deterrence as capable of reducing crime, however, were often critiqued based on the findings that perceived formal r isks of punishment had no impact on criminal behavior without taking other factors into consideration ( Piliavin, Gartner, Thornton, & Matsueda, 1986). In their examination of the RCP, which employed a longitudinal design using three populations of individ uals at increased risk of formal sanctions, Piliavin et al. (1986) found that the opportunities and rewards that present themselves in a criminal act, as well as respect for the criminal act itself ( i.e., criminal status), have a perception of ri sk of formal sanctions alone had no effect. This study also demonstrated
15 that a more complex RCP model was needed that did not oversimplify the cognitive process that takes place during criminal activity (Piliavin et al., 1986). Erickson and Gibbs (1978) identified the importance of directly testing both the objective properties ( i.e., the ratio of prison admission to the number of offenses reported to the police) and the perceptual properties of punishment ( i.e., the perceived risk of arrest) within the deterrence doctrine. They contest that findings in past studies have not directly tested the main principles of the deterrence doctrine and have not proved that jective certainty of punishment is related to crime rates through the perceived (Erickson & Gibbs, 1978, p. 254). In their study, which compared the objective and perceived certainty of arrest and the crime rate across ten differe nt types of crime using interview techniques in a random sample of 1200 Tuscan (Arizona) residents, findings indicated that: objective and perceived certainty of punishment were moderately (directly) related; perceived certainty of punishment and the crime rate were moderately (inversely) related; and there was no relation between the i.e., the objective threat o f criminal activity (Erikson & Gibbs, 1978). Clarke and Cornish (1985) stated that engaging in crime is what leads to the reassessment of moral standards that Greenbe the fact assessment in regards to money, certainty of success, and amount of gain and risk nal behavior is affected by the behavior
16 itself, and not by the perceived risk that may result from the behavior (Clarke & Cornish, 1985). Paternoster, Saltzman, Waldo, and Chiricos (1983) reached similar findings in their study in which they analyzed tw o different sets of panel data including interviews with 300 randomly selected college students at two different times (one year apart) and self administered questionnaires of high school students at two different times (six months apart). Their findings indicated that cross sectional analysis has no way of determining causal order, that low risk perceptions of punishment certainty and severity may result after criminal involvement, and that little perceptual stability is found over time with respect to sa nctions (Paternoster et al., 1983; see also Green, 1989). With respect to crime participation, continuation, and desistance Paternoster (1989) found that the perceived certainty or severity of punishment had no effect on the decision to offend for the f irst time, and the decision to desist from offending was also unaffected by perceptions of legal threats. In their study, in which data were collected from nine public high schools that were demographically representative of their respective SMSA (Standar initially participate and continue to participate in criminal behavior portrayed a more cognitive approach than was offered by most deterrence models of criminal offending (Paternoster, 1989). supported early deterrence research that stated that the certainty of punishment has a much greater deterrent effect than the severity of punishment, and also found support that extralegal consequences such as stigma costs which used cross sectional and panel measures to test deterrence effects on drunk driving
17 resulted in mixed findings. Cross sectional analysis indicated that engag ing in drunken driving was mostly influenced by threats of social disapproval and some demographic and social variables ( e.g., age, gender, marital status, frequency of drinking), while the panel analyses indicated that moral commitment (in addition to the same socio demographic variables with the exception of gender) had the greatest influence on an Pogarsky, Kim and Paternoster (2005) confirmed the assertion that there was little deterrence research that addresse d how criminal perceptions were actually formed and modified. They stated that sanctions can not deter a possible offender without first having some effect on their perceptions of the risks involved with, or possib le consequences of, the criminal behavior (Pogarsky et al., 2005) Similar declarations about offender perception were found in a study conducted by McCarthy and Hagan (2005), who stated that research must also a acquiring new skills. In addition, self report questionnaires completed by 482 youths who were either homeless or living in some form of shelter indicated that perception of the danger involved in the criminal action also had a significant relationship with their decision to offend (McCarthy & Hagan, 2005). In study, which utilized the National Youth Survey it was found th at p rior offending experience, moral inhibition and perceived social costs all showed an effect on an trolling for formal punishment.
18 Nagin ( 1998) suggests that deterrence research should move in several major directions: understanding the relationship between sanction risk perceptions and actual policy (as well as the consistency between intended and actual policy); examining the variation in policy responses across time and space; and recognizin g the long term effects of policy as opposed to only studying the short term consequences. Massoglia and ceptions of criminal justice policy. Specifically, this concept identifies that individuals are socialized (at different levels) to perceive themselves to be subject to criminal justice control, and will therefore exhibit different degrees of how these pe deterrence and identifies approaches to rational choice and the decision making process within theories of cognitive psychology. Cognitive Psychology in order to predict individual behavior (Restle, 1961). In an attempt to understand how individual behavior is connected to motivation, psychologists notion of utility (Restle, 1961). However, in an attempt to make this connection, psychologists are more inclined to measure the choices actually made by individuals as opposed to the choices they think they should make (Restle, 1961, Manktelow & Over, 1993 ). Further, cognitive psychologists contest that an empirically tested theory of an making processes must be constructed due to the fact that there are differences between the real world and the individual
19 inability to collect and process all of the relevant information of a situation (Simon, 1997). Within psychology, theories of bounded rationality recognize that rational or reasonable decisions are reached by pro decision The decision making process can be affected by unconscious choices or emotions and does not have to be self maximizing in the short term (Monroe, 2001). In this way, rational approaches to decision making can be consciously learned and developed to repeat successful outcomes of choices and lead to long term optimization strategies (Monroe, 2001). While the study of the crim inal decision making process is often identified as a cognitive issue, several studies illustrate the importance of incorporating emotion into this process ( Hogarth, 1987; Mellers, S c hwartz, Ho & Ritov 1997; Nagin, 2007). Through their proposal of decisi on affect theory, Mellers et al. (1997) found that emotional experiences involved in the decision making process of a criminal act are related to perceptions of risk and expected utility. They found that while decisions to engage in criminal acts are affe cted by the opportunity for and level of monetary gain, an emotional element based on perceived level of risk also affects the decision making process, in that an offender will choose an offense that will minimize the amount of experienced displeasure (Mel lers et al. 1997). For example, an individual who experiences anxiety may fail to consider relevant alternatives in decision making process and automatically expect to experience negative consequences as a result of choices (Hogarth, 1987). While emotions such as anxiety may actually help individuals
20 make better decisions in certain contexts, states of emotional arousal often lead to choices e.g., s momentary angered state may lead to choices that (Nagin, 2007 p. 265 ). While cognitive psychologists recognize the importance of economic and decision models in the examination of individual choice, they also propo se the incorporation of psychological principles such as motivation, values, and emotion into models of cognition in order to gain a decision making processes and choices (Shafir, 1993; Hogarth, 1987). In the next section, sociologists support the notion of incorporating such principles as emotion into a rational choice framework and identify the value of sociological contributions to the RCP. Sociology of Choice Skepticism or criticisms of the RCP by sociologists are often based on misconceptions of the theory (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997). The RCP is a multi level theory, but due to the methodological complexity involving the social aspects of the theory, the RCP often focuses on individual action ( i.e., subjective expected utility). Hechter and Kanazawa (1997 ) identify the value of sociological rational choice in its provision of a he uristic framework that can unify diverse findings within many sociological fields and can aid in making the logical links between dif ferent theories more explicit. Sociological approaches to the RCP that recognize the emotional elements involved in the decision making process have also demons trated the utility of applying
21 r ational c hoice models to areas outside of economics (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997). Sociological rational choice utilizes rational choice principles to explain sociological issues within the realms of family (see also Becker 1974) religion, race, gender and politics (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997) Sociological RCP approac hes also attempt to explain social outcomes based on individual action as well as social context (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997). T hrough the sociological RCP approach, rational actors will either look backwards (based on past choices and outcomes), forwards ( assigning subjective probabilities to future choices based on available information) or sideways (attempting to imitate the success of individuals in the present) to help aid their decision making process (Hechter & Kanazawa, 1997). McCarthy (2002) sugges ts that sociological criminologists move beyond the and stresses the importance of recognizing that offenders may adopt different strategies for different situations. In addition, these preferences and strategies must be more making process (McCarthy, 2002). McCa rthy (2002) also suggests that criminologists should focus less on the background or deterministic forces of an individual and concentrate more on an Within the field of criminology, advances in the stu dy of the human agency and rational choice were heavily influenced by environmental criminologists who identified making processes
22 (Brantingham & Brantingham, 1981). A review of the literature on environmental criminology is examined in the next section. Environmental Criminology Environmental criminologists argue that crime is contingent on the interaction and convergence of offender, victim/target, legal and locational dimensions of the situation ( Brantingham & Brantingham 1981). With respect to rational choice considerations, a major theme within choice for a victim or location is based on target selection and decisio n making processes (Brantingham & Brantingham, 1981). These processes and choices are based on situational and environmental perceptions that allow the offender to distinguish which criminal opportunities provide the greatest level of reward with the leas t amount of risk involved (Brantingham & Brantingham, 1981, p. 3). High rationality offenders are motivated by knowledge about the specifics of a target which can come from a variety of sources including someone on the inside or a general review of the situation (Hochstetler, 2001 ). The information is then scrutinized thr (p. 45), in which offenders will look for weaknesses in s security systems (Walsh, 1986 (p. 45) is then deter mined, which may influence the methods that will be used in that specific criminal situation (Walsh 1986 ). These strategies illustrate that offenders use a logical decision making process to select a target that best suits respective needs and pref er targets with low amounts of risk and high probability of success (Walsh, 1986). has continued its attempts to conceptually expand in its understanding of the complex
23 natu re of the crime environment connection ( Brantingham & Brantingham, 1993 ). As a result, research on criminal motivat ion, readiness, and opportunity as well as target identification, suitability, and selection have been carefully scrutinized in an effort to identify criminal patterns within these relationships ( Brantingham & Brantingham, 1993 ). By identifying and analyzing these patterns, or connections made between the offender, the target, and the process in between, there has been a better understanding of offender decision making processes within the complexities of the environment ( Brantingham & Brantingham, 1993 ). Contemporary s tudies that have contributed to this understanding are explored in a later section. This section has examined the origins of the RCP, including the Von Nuemann Morgenstern expected u tility (EU) model, as well as economic and deterrence models, heavily influenced by Becker (1968) and Becarria (1986), respectively, which advanced ideas related to the crime punishment connection ( e.g., punishment certainty; punishment severity). Elements found within the cognitive psychology and sociology disciplines ( e.g., morals/values, motivation, emotion) were identified as essential to study in order to gain a full understanding of the offend er decision making process. Concepts of target selection, opportunity recognition and risk management strategies found in environmental criminology were also provided important as important considerations in the study of the offender decision making proc ess. A Synthesis of Disciplines While studies exploring environmental and sociological factors were emerging and new decision making models containing criminological concepts of information processing were being explored by the psychology and economic dis ciplines, it was not
24 until the mid 19 8 integrate the findings of these disciplines within a r ational c hoice framework was attempted (Clarke & Cornish, 1985 ; Cornish & Clarke, 1986 ). As a result, new methods of studying criminal offend ing stemming from the core principles of economic models embracing notions of expected utility were implemented that incorporated findings from several disciplines into a rational choice framework and presented contemporary views on the criminal decision m aking process. This interest in criminal opportunities (Clarke & Felson 1993, p. 4). Longitudinal cohort studies, studies of the criminal opportunity structure, target vulnerability studies and crime prevention studies using interview techniques were developed to gain a greater understanding of the offender decision making process (Clarke & Cornish, 1985) These studies offered ne w focuses and methods of investigation in an attempt to understand the role that opportunities and rewards played in criminal lifestyle, as well as how this lifestyle actually developed (Clarke & Cornish, 1985). Studies on burglary (with a focus on risk p e rceptions and target selection) and auto theft demonstrated the importance of studying concepts of choice within a decision making framework (Clarke & Cornish, 1985). These studies which emphasized the importance of expanding the RCP to study the choices and decision making processes of rational criminal actors ( i.e., by operationally expanding the EU function through the integration of theoretical principles and research findings from several disciplines), are examined in the followin g section.
25 The Rational Choice Perspective The RCP is centered on the rationality of criminal offending, based upon the the costs and rewards of crime relative to the expected utility of other choices that may influence the decision to offend ( Cornish & Clark, 1986 ). The three main components of the RCP are: 1) the concept of a reasoning offender, 2) a crime specific focus, and 3) establishment of distinct decision models for both criminal events and criminal involvemen t (Cornish & Clark, 1986). The RCP proposes that offenders will engage in criminal behavior to benefit themselves, and that engaging in criminal activity require s a rational involvement of decisions and choices to weigh that benefit (relative to risk and cost perceptions) a process that is often constrained by limits of time, ability, and availability of relevant information (Cornish & Clark, 1986). different theories or discipl ines. Rational choice approaches to criminal offending do not argue that all individuals engage in literal cognitive calculations throughout all phases of criminal offending, but instead suggest that rationality is determined by how individuals make decis ions based on information collected (with respect to their assessments of the other wo rds, i consistency between expected utility and actions taken (McCarthy, 2002). Further, c ont emporary rational choice models the perce ptions of the costs
26 and benefits of the crime, relative to the specific situation, and within the constraints of limited time, information, judgment and cognitive processing capabilities, and makes a rational choice between several alternatives in an effort to benefit oneself ( Clarke & Cornish, 1985; Cornish & Clarke, 1986, p. 13). Rational or reasoned offenders also often adopt planning and risk management strategies in an effort to achieve the greatest level of benefit with the least amount of risk or cost invo lved (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). In other words, reasoned decision makers within the RCP exercise some degree of planning and foresight and adapt their behavior to their surroundings and situational circumstances (Cornish & Clark, 1986). In this way, offenders are repeatedly evaluating information, making behavioral decisions, then re evaluating information and making new and sometimes different offending decisions respective skills and opportunities, crimes are categorized by benefit, including b ut not limited to, personal needs and monetary gains (Guerette, Stenius & McGloin, 2005). Crime, according to the RCP, is an acceptable mechanism to achieve these needs and benefits. (Guerette et al., 2005). The RCP also acknowledges that criminal offenders are goal oriented but decisions are often made in order to satisfy needs with the least amount of effort required, as opposed to a deliberate calculation made to maximize success (Clarke & within theories of bounded rationality asserts that individuals do not always optimize, or make the best possible choice based on a set of alternatives, but rather choose an alternative that meets cert ain levels of expectations but may not always provide the best possible outcome (Simon,
27 1997). Satisficing presents a more realistic approach to the decision making process in that it assumes individuals do not live in a purely objective reality where dec isions are easily calculated among a set of fixed alternatives, but rather must make their choices in uncertain situations where constraints and limitations in the forms of available information and processing capabilities are constantly present (Simon, 19 97). The development of offense specific models in the RCP is recognized as an important component of the perspective since specific informational dynamics that influence decisions change with each offense (Paternoster, 1989). In other words, crimes wi ll vary based on the situational factors present ( e.g., money and influence, immediate needs and motivation, perceived costs and benefits of the act) and the assessments of these elements are made within the varying limits of time or judgment (Cornish & Cl arke, 1986). In turn, offending decision making processes will vary across different types of crimes (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). In order to develop crime specific models that on processes is required for each criminal event (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). According to the RCP, t he stability of opportunities and benefits may lead to lifestyle, and is bas ed on respective needs as well as learning experiences, moral codes and self concepts (Guerette et al., 2005). Criminal involvement pertains to the multistage process of initial involvement, continuation, and possible desistance of crime, which takes int o account a large range of information over a long period of time (Cornish &
28 seen in how changes in motivation, learning, rationality and choices occur over the life cours e (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). As Grasmick and Bursik (1990) note, most survey research has focused on the differences between deterrence theory and other theories of criminal behavior. During the period of revived interest in rational choice models of offe nding that began in the mid and integrating concepts of rational decision making within su ch a perspective. During this time an increasing number of studies were conducted that supported this notion by identifying the need to re operationalize the expected utility function within the RCP framework. These studies have attempted to expand t he expected utility function by incorporating concepts and findings from the economic, psychology sociology and criminology disciplines within a rational choice framework of criminal offending. Expanding the Expected Utility Function In Grasmick and B ur s interviews with a simple random sample of approximately 360 individuals in a large Southwestern city, significant others and conscience were incorporated into a rational choice model of criminal off ending. Grasmi c k and Bursik (1990) proposed that the costs of these non legal sanctions (while varying in terms of certainty and severity) would combine to decrease the expected utility of criminal be havior (Grasmick & Bursik, 1990). Findings indicated a consistently strong deterrent effect of formal sanction threats and self imposed shame (while controlling for prior offending) existed for all three offenses (tax cheating, theft, and drunk driving), while the threat of socially imposed
29 embarrassment faile d to yield a consistent deterrent effect within the rational choice model (Grasmick & Bursik, 1990). Cochran, Chamlin, Wood and Sellers (1999) attempted to replicate this study by testing the deterrent effect of self imposed shame, socially imposed embarrassment, and formal sanctions (with respect to perceptions of certainty and severity for each) on five types of cheating. Similar results were found in their study: shame had a consistent deterrent effect on each form of cheating while socially impo sed embarrassment did not (Cochran et al., 1999). One discrepancy between the findings of these two studies is that Cochran et al. (1999) found no deterrent effect of While these findings are m ore consistent with recent deterrent research on formal sanction perceptions than that deterrent effects of formal or legal sanction perceptions are non existent. Never theless, b oth of these studies argue for the integration of the commonalities between theories of deterrence and other theories of choice in which additional factors ( e.g., significant others, conscience) may be incorporated into a rational choice perspect ive of criminal offending (Grasmick & Bursik, 1990; Cochran et al., 1999). In a study utilizing data collected from anonymous questionnaires returned by undergraduate students in a university behavioral science class, Tibbetts (1997) displayed the import ance of using an offense specific rational choice approach to crimes that are likely to produce higher states of shame ( e.g., shoplifting, drunk driving) and recommended the measurement of other emotions such as guilt, pride, and narcissism within rational choice models of offending. Using a similar sample, Zimmerman (2008) also recognized the importance of measuring more than formal sanction perceptions and
30 exploring self and socially imposed sanctions such as guilt and other moral issues that have a sign ificant effect on the decision to offend. In their study of corporate crime, Paternoster and Simpson (1996) also illustrated the importance of considering moral beliefs in a study utilizing rational choice factors, with findings suggesting that individual s with high states of morality were less likely to be influenced by considerations of rational choice factors. In other words, these studies illustrate that moral costs and psychological factors may act as a filter in which the costs and rewards of a cri minal act receive their value. In a study of street culture and motivation conducted by Jacobs and Wright (1999), findings drawn from 86 in depth interviews with active armed robbers indicated (p. 167) as a result of perceptions of present crises ( e.g., perceptions of immediate financial needs struggle to find criminal identity within a subculture that exhibits strong criminal norm pressures). Carmichael and Piquero (2004) found that informal sanctions can be affected by emotions such as perceived anger as well In their study that collected data from a random sample of young adults using hypothetical assault scenarios, findings that anger had an effect on the perception of risks and rewards assertion consider the long term consequences of an act (Carmichael & Piquero, 2004). Katz (1988) also recognizes the importance of studying emotion in the decision making process and claims that crime often represents an emotional process that wherein the act itself is
31 profoundly moving. nal construct of the experience from the inside out (Katz, 1988). Risk Perceptions, Risk Management, Target Selection and the Criminal Decision Making Process To emphasize the importance of studying perceptions of offenders in an RCP framework Carroll and W e aver (1986) examined the perceptual and decision making processes of shoplifters. In their study of thirty through and verbal protocol techniques ( i .e., relating to security, layout, and individuals in the store (Carroll & Weaver, 1986). Findings indicated that these offenders were sensitive to several crime opportunity features such as : the assessment of the value of items, an awareness of the risks, a motivation by attraction of or need for the item, and a consideration of strategy (Carroll & Weaver, 1986, pp. 26 27 ). These findings suggested that many deterrence policies were ineffec tive in that many offenders would continually adapt their own strategies to these policies in order to achieve criminal success (Carroll & Weaver, 1986). While much research has concentrated on deterrence aspects of criminal events, thereby narrowing the ir focus to the early planning stages of a criminal act, Cherbonneau and Copes (2005) identif ied the importance o f studying risk perceptions of offenders throughout the entire criminal event ( i.e., planning and target selection decisions as well risk manag ement techniques within the act itself that are by that point not affected by the
32 threat of formal sanctions alone ) These risk perceptions and techniques implemented to counteract or minimize the chances of being caught directly affect the decision makin g process not only during the planning phases of the criminal act, but during the act as well ( e.g., the amount of time a burglar might search a dwelling) (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005) In their study of auto theft, Cherbonneau and Copes (2005) found clear evidence that these criminal offenders were constantly making decisions and implementing risk management techniques throughout each stage of the criminal act. The impact of environmental criminology on rational choice models of offending has been demonstr ated by a number of contemporary studies that identify the rational decision making processes employed by offenders in their selection of targets based on the perceived risks and rewards of the situation (Hochstetler, 2002). Hakim, Rengert and Shachmurove wealthy community in Connecticut adds to a vast number of ethnographic studies that aim to demonstrate the importance of using qualitative methodology to connect the target selection strategies and decision making processes to their perception of the environment. While most ethnographic research in this realm of study have suggested that burglars tend to focus on the perceived rewards of a crime as opposed to the per ceived risks, Hakim et al. (2001) found that the main concerns of the residential burglars in their sample were the relative risks of the situation. Specifically, the target selection and decision making processes of this sample were mostly affected by th e presence of a burglar alarm, and to a lesser extent factors such as the type of house ( e.g., a single family detached home versus a townhouse or apartment), the location of the house ( e.g., on a dead end street or near the woods) and the appearance of th e house ( e.g.,
33 lights on, cars in the driveway), with little importance placed on the perceived value of the house or other potential rewards by comparison (Hakim et al., 2001). Coupe and strategies employed by the offender were related to the amount and kind of risk they were willing to accept with respect to factors such as transportation, location and type of house, and elements of daylight and darkness. In t heir study of auto burglars, which implemented three stages of data collection (phone interviews with a focus group comprised of park managers and law enforcement personnel; interviews with key informants; and on site analyses), Michael & Zahm (2001) found that auto burglars employed rational procedures to increase their likelihood and level of reward s while minimizing their effort and risk factors. Physical attributes of the environment that provided concealment ( e.g., vegetation lighting) and the possibility of a quick escape ( e.g. tunnels, crowds) were key components in their risk management procedures (Michael & Zahm, 2001). In addition, other rational actions within the target selection process such as identifying and inspecting the desired goods, assessing the best tactics to retrieve the goods, and determining the presence or absence of police or possible victim resistance were employed to minimize risk (Michael & Zahm, 2001). These findings suggest that situational measures such as clearing vegetation, increasing lighting or installing surveillance may reduce criminal opportunities for specific criminal events such as auto burglary (Michael & Zahm, 2001). Cherbonneau and Copes (2005 risks and rewards that offenders attach to spe cific forms of crime and how these ). Auto thieves engage in several risk
34 management techniques that are aimed to reduce the likelihood o f police detection and arrest (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005) Based on p erceptions of specific situational factors within the criminal act, the risk management techniques employed to avoid detection are related to anticipatory appearance related strategies ( i.e., manipulating their physical appearance to fit the situation) and reactive behavior related strategies ( i.e., modification of behavior and controlling of emotions to create appearance of normality in police presence) and are embedded in the decision making process (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005) These strategies, comprisi ng the concept of arrest avoidance, are identified as considerably applicable to research on the criminal decision making process, both in specific criminal event decisions as well as criminal involvement (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005) While the majority of qualitative research exploring making p rocess has been applied to property crime, Beauregard, Rossmo and Proulx (2007) used information collected from police investigative reports and semi structured interviews to exami ne the hunting process of serial sex offenders through a r ational c hoice approach. They found that while serial sex offenders may vary in terms of their hunting pro cesses, they do in fact act in a rational way in their crime commissions (Beauregard et al. 2007 ). The target selection processes of serial sexual offenders are related to geographic models of offending found in environmental criminology which respect to envir onmental and situational factors (B eau regard et al. 2007). Beauregard et al. (2007) identified the importance of studying the differences between a serial sex intended and actual method of crime commission and how the geographic
35 factors of the crime ( e.g., location of the encounter, offense and possible release) impact t he hunting process and criminal act A better understanding of these decision processes may lead to psychological or geographical profiling measures as well as the creation o f avoidance or escape strategies. (Beauregard et al. 2007). In their study of sex offenders, Beauregard and Leclerc (2007) illustrated the importance of not only connecting the personal and psychological factors of the offender with situational elements o f the crime, but also providing a deeper examination of the internal decision making processes of the offender within a rational choice framework (Beauregard & Leclerc, 2007). For example, sex offenders strategically plan and execute their offenses based on the perceived costs and benefits of the act, and strategic decisions often carry over to behaviors that occur after the offense has been committed ( e.g., if and where to release the victim) (Beauregard & Leclerc, 2007). Examination of the decision mak ing process of sex offenders can be applied through a rational choice approach in that sex offenders make several choices before they offend in which they consider: a) where to look for victims, b) when to attack, c) the type of victim, d) the victim appro ach strategy, and e) the strategy used to engage the victim in sexual activity (Beauregard & Leclerc, 2007). In addition, situational elements such as victim resistance and the type of environment affect these strategies and how they are employed by the o ffender (Beauregard & Leclerc, 2007). Fear Coping, and the Criminal Career While fear resulting from the threat of formal punishments rarely affects an making process, apprehensive thoughts related to the danger of a criminal situat ion ( e.g., victim confrontation, injury or death) are often present and must
36 be overcome if the offender wishe s to be successful in the criminal act (Hochstetler & the m to overcome the immediate deterrent potential of fear associated with ( Hochstetler & Copes, 2003, p. 104). These behaviors may include using drugs or alcohol, relying on co offenders, or (p. 109) ( e.g., thrill seekers can focus on the situation as exciting apprehensive offenders can ignore negative consequences) to redefine the situation as more favorable than originally perceived (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). Often times, offenders adopt risk management strategies to cou nteract the presence of the distressing emotions inherent in the criminal act (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005 ). In order to persist in successful criminal careers, offenders must either use these strategies to control their emotions or engage in criminal acts that do not require an increased level of confidence or present overwhelming levels of emotional stress (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005) Another way that offenders will maintain levels of comfort and avoid high levels of fear or apprehension is that they oft en strike targets that are similar to targets they had previously attacked and found criminal success (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). Offenders may also use similar methods in in order to gain confidence and reduce fear or anxiety (Ho chstetler & Copes, 2003). In this way, previous criminal acts may determine the assessment of future criminal opportunities (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). With respect to criminal careers, Hochstetler and Copes (2003) found that fear had very little influ making process. This may be attributed to the fact that a) older and more experienced offenders had achieved skill
37 levels and confidence that minimized any level of apprehension during a criminal act, b) offenders who had be en arrested and sent to jail no longer possess ed that fear, and c) offenders who found a specific target to be overly overwhelming could easily decide to choose a less intimidating target (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). In this way, formal sanctions and crim inal justice policies that attempt to instill fear in the minds of career criminals have not had success in altering their decision making process or decreasing levels of criminal motivation (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). Further, often time s criminals who ha ve been repeatedly successful in their crimes develop criminal identities and self perceptions of expertise and prominent criminal status (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). Offenders who develop such an identity take great pride in their success and perceive th emselves to surpass other criminals with respect to their possession of special technical, intellectual, and intuitive skills (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). These skills offer them a greater likelihood of minimizing risks, avoiding detection or arrest, and confidently and successfully achieving the desired benefits of their participation in criminal activity (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003 ). Criminal self concepts can also become embedded into the decision making process and often shape the actions taken in criminal situations with respect to an perception of the risks and rewards of the sit uation (Hochstetler et al. findings from 110 semi structured interviews (drawn from two samples including 60 imprisoned persistent thieves and 50 community supervised adult males convicted of burgla ry and robbery) suggested that the decision making processes of many street offenders are so ingrained in their criminal culture or lifestyle that many preventative or
38 reactive criminal justice polici es are highly ineffective The decisions of these offen ders revolve around the cultural context of their actions, which are embedded in their lives through co offenders and their environment (Hochstetler, 2002). In addition, the abundance of criminal opportunities and lack of effective policy initiatives prov ide these offenders with the perception that crime is the most viable choice to achieve their goals over the life course (Hochstetler, 2002). Some criminologists may contest that focusing on decision making processes and crime over the life course is a tangent of focus within a rational c hoice framework and that it is more important to study the specific crime (situational factors) and not the career of the criminal/offender (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). However, contemporary models of the RCP illustrate th e utility of viewing crime as a way of life and addressing the involvement processes of criminal offenders as well as the criminal events themselves (Cornish & Clarke, 1986) In this way, levels of rationality and patterns of decision making processes can be examined over the course of a (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). The RCP recognizes that the attractive features of crime may vary with persistent offenders depending on criminal lifestyle, status in the community, and the availa bility of alternatives throughout criminal career (Hochstetler et al. 2007). In addition, growing levels of expertise may lead to changes in learning and information processing strategies over the course of a criminal career (Carroll & Weaver, 1986). The RCP is well equipped to explain the variation in criminal motivation, opportunity, and decision making processes over the life course while considering the differences in offender types (Hochstetler et al. 2007; DeLisi & Puhrmann, 200 7).
39 Despite the strength the RCP has gained in its development over the last few decades, some have found the perspective to be weak or flawed. Some of the criticisms presented below claim that the RCP over simplifies the balance of incentives and deter rents, disregards certain psychological or emotional factors, and presents an unrealistic assertion of the level of rationality present in the decision making process. In the following section, these criticisms are addressed, followed by the rebuttals of criminologists who have found support for the RCP Criticisms of the Rational Choice Perspective Overly Simplistic Cost Benefit Model One of the biggest criticisms of the RCP is that it is overly simplistic in its examination of incentives and deterre nts (De Haan & Vos, 2003) There is a certain complexity involved in criminal decision making, in that offenders often have flawed perceptions of costs and benefits that may lead to an elevated expected utility (Hochstetler, 2001). In turn, diminish ed assessment of the potential risks and costs of a criminal situation allow s one to view criminal activity in overly optimistic ways, and these perceptions may negate any deterrent effects that criminal sanctions may have had (Claster, 1967; Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005) Those offenders who actually identify the risks of the criminal act often feel that focusing on them would inhibit chances of success and choose to focus on the immediate goals or rewards of a crime (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005). In th is way, any kind of cost/benefit assessment is constrained by an overly optimistic outlook that concentrates energy on the means to succeed rather than on the threat of criminal punishment (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005). By remaining overly optimistic, avoidi ng careful tho ught about the act or potential consequences, or redefining a dangerous act as
40 exciting, criminal offenders are often able to perceive the act as more appealing and therefore are more inclined to commit the crime (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). Disregard of Psychological or Emotional Factors ) essay he stated that the RCP model disregards how morals, values and a variation of beliefs may influence the perception s of benefits and costs He suggests that (p. 671) such as conscience and religious values are sometimes included in the RCP, but a lready well established in the social learning theory (SLT) as well as social background factors including learning, family, and friends ( Akers, 1990, p. 671 ). De H aan and Vos (2003) also contest that the RCP neglects emotional elements such as guilt and shame, and that offenders do not always make choices that are rational According to De Haan & Vos, (2003), by failing to include these factors, as well as other fa ctors such as impulsiveness and moral ambiguity into the model, the RCP portrays an incomplete view of crime. Unrealistic Assertion of Rationality Many street offenders take pride in abandoning conventional lifestyles and possessing criminal identities t hat are comprised of social ideals surrounding elements of partying, drug use and spontaneity (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003) In this way, crim inal behavior is largely depende nt on how life on the streets is socially constructed and is often det ermined by continual necessity to obtain fast money and drugs (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003) Offenders also often use these drugs and alcohol to reduce fear when engaging in risky criminal rough a heavy cognitive fog p. 104 ) In this way, any kind of reasoning ability an offender may possess may be severely constrained by the use of drugs or alcohol (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003) In conjunction with the limits of time,
41 judgment, availability of relevant information and decision making capabilities, the criminal offenses of many street offenders are therefore less likely to be characteristic of deliberate planning or rational calcu lations than is suggested by rational choice models of offending (Cornish & Clarke, 1986; Hochstetler & Copes, 2003) Suggestions for Strengthening or Replacing the RCP Piliavin et al. (1986) suggest that a more behavioral model can explain how the cost s and benefits of a criminal act are subjectively perceived by the actor. Akers (1990) claims that the SLT already establishes the importance of behavioral learning principles, and that the RCP in general is already encompassed by this theory. He contend s that the link between the RCP and the SLT has been missed in the literature, in that the RCP has no new element that explains how the risk of crime is perceived and offers nothing of new or specific importance in terms of criminal rationality that is not already established in the SLT (Akers, 1990). While the RCP goes beyond the deterrence theory with regard to the balance of costs and benefits, Akers (1990) contests that it does not go beyond SLT with its already established concept of differential rein forcement, in which the balance of rewards and punishments for behavior is dependent on and examined through positive and negative inhibitors and facilitators, direct and indirect sanctions, penalties, punishments and rei nforcements. Akers (1990) also cont ests that behavioral learning principles are overlooked in both deterrence and the RCP, and therefore criminal deviance can be best explained by a behavioral approach to socialization found in the SLT This entails the examination of individual responses to rewards and punishments in the current situation, the learned patterns of responses one already possess es and the anticipated consequences of action s (Akers, 1990). It is this behavioral response to environmental conditions that
42 allows for the i adaptations to different conditions, and in turn a continuing learning experience (Akers, 1990). Responses to Criticisms. As response to the criticisms regarding unrealistic asser tions of rationality while offenders may not always carefully plan and execute each of their criminal actions methodically, evidence suggests that criminal decisions are also not made spontaneously (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). Offenders often plan their crime and slowly move towards executing criminal decision in incremental steps, only deciding to follow through with the decision at the last moment (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). While this process allows the offender flexibility in decision ma king process ( i.e., even after considerable planning one can decide not to offend at the last moment before a potential criminal event), it also may create the illusion that one is acting on impulse (Hochstetler & Copes, 2003). E thnographic studies have demonstrated that while offending decision making processes of thieves are often rooted in a risky drug using subculture and lifestyle, they are also affected by prior criminal experience (Hochstetler, 2002). As a result, thieves often develop preferences within their criminal careers based on mental constructions of the cost benefit calculations they have processed in past criminal events (Hochstetler, 2002). T two or more offenses committe d without a break in the ) for example, often strike similar targets and rely on past methods of crime commission that led to success, rather than exhibiting a carefully calculated decision making process for each target (Hochstetler, 2002, p. 48).
43 In addition, contemporary RCP mode ls do not assume criminal acts result from educated and calculated decisions on all levels of rationality (Akers, 1990). D espite confusions in previous literature, it is possible for a criminal to behave rationally without behaving in a strictly utilitar ian manner ( Clarke & Cornish, 1985). Purely informed rational choice is both unattainable and unnecessary to the theory, and excessive planning is not always necessary (Paternoster, 1989; Akers, 1990). In fact, often times offenders will rely on their hu nches or intuition over a complete rational decision making process in order to reduce their fear and anxiety and the pressure of failing (Clarke & Cornish, 1985). Experienced criminals may rely on their experience and confidence in avoiding detection ra ther than engaging in strict and organized measures of planning (Clarke & Cornish, 1985). Criticisms of the overly simplistic RCP cost benefit model may be attributed to preconceived notions of early economic rational choice models that focused more on t he measures. Rational choice models have always considered the presence of risk perceptions and the ability to expand the cost benefit measures beyond monetary values ( Vo n Nuemann & Morgenstern, 1944; McCarthy 2002) and contemporary models have attempted to produce such an expansion of measures within the RCP framework ( e.g., Grasmi c k & Bursik, 1990; Cochran et al. 1990, Paternoster & Simpson, 1996; Tibbetts 1997; Tibbetts & Gibson, 2002; Zimmerman 2008). Further, arguments identifying the shortcomings of the RCP with respect to its alleged failure to incorporate emotional or cultural elements into the model become unwarranted when many of the contemporary RCP crime as cho making
44 process, are taken into consideration ( e.g., Hochstetler, 2002; Carmichael & Piquero, 2004; Jacobs & Wright, 1999; Beauregard & Leclerc, 2007; Nagin, 2007). With respect to some of Akers the RCP offers individuals more agency than deterministic explanations of offending with respect to social experiences and conditions such as peer association and socialization. Also in response to Akers ( 1990), Cornish (1993) contests that the RCP is development of its key principles of choice and rationality, there is great reason to believe that the RCP framework woul d do well in addressing the theoretical and practical issues of the field. Cornish (1993) claims that the synthesis of several theoretical strong points, such as its conceptual utility in its examination of individual interaction and language, its ability to adapt to and draw from other disciplines while avoiding those assumptions that might restrict the theory, and its solid foundation of conceptualized ideas of choice, rationality, and individual processes, is what allows the RCP to stand out as an extre mely useful theoretical perspective within criminology and all social sciences (Cornish, 1993). This section has demonstrated the utility of synthesizing findings, measures and theoretical concepts from several disciplines ( e.g., economics, psychology, sociology, criminology) into an RCP framework. The RCP has developed as a strong theoretical framework over the past few decades and has presented new ways of looking at the criminal decision making process, which have emerged as a result of the operation al expansion of the expected utility function ( e.g., including emotion and morals in studies of rational choice). The RCP, which presents the image of a reasoning offender,
45 identifies that rational human actors view crime as a choice and engage in decision making processes in which the perceived costs and benefits of a criminal act are weighed. This section has also demonstrated the importance of studying the risk perceptions of offenders, as well as the risk management and target selection strateg ies inherent in the decision making process, using a wide variety of offender groups ( e.g., auto thieves burglars sex offenders). Psychological and emotional issues ( e.g., fear coping) have also been identified as important issues to be considered as well as how criminal methods and self section has also identified several criticisms of the RCP that address the cost benefit model, as well as psychological/emotional considerations a nd assertions of rationality, followed by responses to these criticisms that lend support to the RCP. Since evidence suggests that offender decision making processes vary across different types of crime ( e.g., Clarke & Cornish, 1985; Paternoster, 1989; Po garsky et al. 2005 ; Hochstetler et al., 2007 ), findings on street criminals cannot be generalized to all types of offenders. Specificall y, Simpson, Piquero and Paternoster (2002) note that while criticisms concerning the efficacy of rational choice model s (which stress the importance of the decision making process) may have some merit with respect to some violent or street crime, they lack authority with respect to corporate crime. The next section identifies the importance of extending the RCP beyond th e study of street crime and examines some of the research which has been conducted on white collar, corporate and organized crime within an RCP framework. The next section also explores how professional criminals may be effectively examined in a qualitati ve study embracing concepts of rational choice.
46 Rational Choice and Professional Criminals T he explanatory power of the rational choice perspective has been recognized in realms of criminology that have not often been tested through traditional theoretical frameworks ( e.g., sexual offenses, white collar crime) ( Clarke & Felson, 1993 ). However, while r ational c hoice models of offending have received attention for their ability to explain variation in crime across time, spac 2) they have mostly been applied to street crime over the past few decades (Shover & Hochstetler, 2006 ) Cornish and Clarke (1986) identify that one of the most critical applicable to the study of corporate crime and encourage that further resear ch be conducted within this otherwise neglected area (Cornish & Clarke, 1986). This section identifies some of the research that has been conducted on white collar, corporate and organized crime through an RCP framework, and demonstrates the utility of a pplying the RCP to the study of professional crime. White Collar, Corporate, and Organized Crime Drawing from their own work on the rational choice perspective found in The Reasoning Criminal (1986), Cornish and Clarke (2002) suggest several reasons why the r ational c hoice p erspective could be effectively utilized in the study of organized crime. First, crimes committed by organized criminals are purposive in nature and closely represent rational choice factors such as costs versus benefit calculations ( Cornish &
47 Second, rational choice models are well suited to approach the organizat ion and business aspects of organized crime, which involve specific technical skills and mechanisms within each criminal process (Cornish & Clarke, 2002). Third, while crimes are never committed with perfect rationality and economic gain is still the prin cipal motivation, the planning and complex decision making processes of organized criminals represent the concepts embedded in contemporary RCP models (Cornish & Clarke, 2002). According to Clarke and Felson (1993), contemporary models of the RCP that foc us on crime as choice tenets, stress the importance of criminal involvement and criminal events, and a more flexible and dynamic view of criminal action than most contemporary p. 12 ) should be expected to achieve the same or greater levels of success in explaining the decision making process of a population of criminals who by their very nature engage in deliberate and carefully calculated criminal actions. Empirical Research on white collar and corporate crime through a rational choice framework has demonstrated the explanatory power of the perspective that reaches beyond more commonly researched types of criminal activity (Piquero, Exum, & Simpson, 2005). Similar to studies on street crimes, Makkai and Braithwaite (1994) found that perceived formal sanction threats alone did not have a significant effect on the decision to offend in their study of corporate deterrence. Using panel data from nursing homes (comprised of home inspections and interviews), they found that low emotio nality or emotions of guilt (self disapproval) had a higher deterrent effect for managers than perceptions of social disapproval or formal sanctions (Makkai and Braithwaite, 1994). In their study of corporate crime Elis and Simpson (1995) demonstrated th at offending behavior was not significantly affected by the perceived risks or social costs of
48 informal detection. Using data from a factorial survey design comprised of hypothetical vignettes collected from M.B.A. students at three different graduate sch ools and M.B.A. business school executives, they demonstrated that perceptions of immorality and informal sanction certainty were negatively related to the decision to offend (Elis & Simpson, 1995). In addition, levels of offending were positively related to the corporate environment and also increased when the offense was not a choice but rather an order from a manager (Elis & Simpson, 1995). Social costs at both firm and individual levels had an influence on offense intentions while perceptions of perso nal benefits had no effect on motivation (Elis & Simpson, 1995). Paternoster and Simpson (1996) also argued that a rational choice approach to corporate crime should examine not only the perceived risks and rewards of a criminal act (for the firm and the imposed shame and punishment, and perceptions of status or prestige in an organizational context. In their study, which utilized hypothetical vignettes in a sample of 96 graduate students in M .B.A. programs, findings suggested that appeals to morality had a controlling for individual and organizational risk and reward perceptions (Paternoster & Simpson, 1996). Wh en obligations to morality were in a weakened state, perceptions of formal and informal sanctions were found to have a deterrent effect with respect to an 1996). In genera l, Paternoster & Simpson (1996) suggest that it is necessary to examine n to commit a corporate offense. In this way, policy initiatives that stress both the enforcement of
49 busi ness laws and the moral education of business individuals can have complementary deterrent effects within a corporation context (Paternoster & Simpson, 1996). collar or corporate offending characteristics as distinct from street level offending characteristics, such as loyalty to the organization, distribution of benefits in the organization, and individual status within the organization. Piquero et al. (2005) also identified the importance of integrating psychological concepts such as the desire for control into rational choice models. In their study, 46 individuals involved in M.B.A. programs responded to hypothetical vignettes, with findings indicating that the desire for cont offend, as well as how rational choice related concepts were perceived and processed (Piquero et al., 2005). While research on white collar, corporate and organized c rime has scratched the surface on testing the explanatory power of the RCP beyond street criminals, the continued application of the RCP framework to the study of professional criminals is still necessary. Some of the findings from the white collar corpo rate or organized crime research may translate to professional crime ( e.g., perceptions of certain risks and rewards concepts of status and levels of rationality inherent in a criminal act ), while others may not ( e.g., organizational contexts versus the professional criminal sub culture types of criminal opportunity and motivation risk or reward perceptions specific to each offender population, and distinct risk management strategies ). Regardless of these similarities or differences, studies conducted within a professional criminal context must continue to stress the importance of expanding the RCP to include emot ional and
50 psychological princip l e s such as perceptions of morality and shame when studying the offending choices of professional criminals I n order to understand the choices made by professional criminals, qualitative research must be conducted that uses an RCP approach in order to comprehensively examine their decision making processes. A Rational Choice Approach to Professional Criminals A s with organized criminals, when studying the decision making process of in its attempt to answer the question of not why these criminal activities occur, but how t hey occur (Cornish & Clarke, 2002). Katz (1998) confirms this notion, explaining that an individual (p. 7) if asked why he committed a crime, whereas by (p. 7) may emerge that will bring to light his situational definitions and involvement conditions Simon (1997) also recognizes that an individu making process is unlikely to be effective. inf ormation avai lable at each step (p. 310), it is much more likely that insight will be e.g., offense intentions and expectations, i.e., how infor making processes affect the ultimate choices made in a criminal event (Simon 1997) In other words, through this type of qualitative inquiry, the researcher can form objective
51 as making process with the step by step descriptions of their criminal accounts. In a study of professional criminals the utility of this type of questioning is apparent in that it provides insight into off ender style with respect to criminal tactics or strategies, as well as their primary motivation with respect to how they approach criminal opportunities ( Johnson et al., 1993). T hese types of interviews also provide insight into an offender s perceptions of risk and risk management strategies (Cherbonneau & Copes, 2005). By repeating these types of open ended and exhaustive interviews, additional patterns and themes with respect to RCP concepts may be observed, providing insight into th making processes ( Johnson et al. 1993). Hobbs (1997) also showed the utility of using qualitative measures to conceptualize professional criminals through his study of the criminal underworld. Using qualitative research to study the shared cultural elements of professional criminals, including skills and status, with respect to the differential association and organizational elements within the subculture, Hobbs displayed the immediate benefit this kind of research has to offer t o criminology (Hobbs, 1997) The benefit can be seen in the in depth examination of a criminal subculture that has been considerably under researched in criminology through the utilization of contemporary models of r ational c hoice which can provide insight into the professional criminal subculture and decision making processes (Hobbs, 1997). This chapter has traced the evolution of the RCP from its economic origins that advanced ideas of the crime pun ishment connection ( e.g., certainty and severity of
52 punishment) to contemporary RCP models that have taken into account theoretical concepts and findings from a variety of studies conducted within several disciplines. For example, sociologists and cognitive psychologists identified several elements ( e.g., morals/values, motivation, emotion) as essential to consider in the study of the offender decision making process, while environmental criminologists identified the importance Begi nning synthesi s of these findings, measures and theoretical concepts from these diverse disciplines that took place in the mid and through its development over the next few decades ( e.g., the operational expansion of t he expected ut ility function), the RCP has presented new ways of exploring the criminal decision making process This chapter has also demonstrated the importance of extending the RCP beyond the study of street crime and has examined some of the research that has been c onducted on white collar, corporate and organized crime within an RCP framework. Further, the importance of understanding how criminal methods and self concepts may be developed has provided insight into how profess ional criminals may be effectively examined in a qualitative study embracing concepts of rational choice. The purpose of the current study is examined below, followed by the methods chapter which describes how a qualitative meta synthesis is used in orde r to accomplish the research objectives of the current study. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of the RCP in the explanation of professional crime through the qualitative examination of the lives and decision m aking processes of professional criminals. Professional criminals, an offender
53 group that has rarely been studied in criminology yet who exhibit many elements of rational choice in their decision making processes, provide a universe by which shared concep ts of rational choice can be systematically identified, coded, and synthesized. The analytic technique employed for the systematic extraction and integration of key concepts within the RCP from a sample of professional criminals is a qualitative meta synthesis. The goal of using a qualitative meta synthesis in the current study is to draw inferences from the sample as a whole and to form new interpretations of the qualitative findings on professional criminals in a holistic context, which in turn may offer conceptual clarity of over the past few decades. In turn, t he primary research objective of the current study is of professional crime. An a dditional research objective of the current study is to examine the utility of the operational enhancements offered by the sociology, psychology and criminology disciplines to the RCP framework In the following chapter, the research design and methods used in the current study are examined, with emphasis on how qualitative researchers who have implemented qualitative meta syntheses in the past have influenced the sampling c oding and analytic processes employed in the curren t study.
54 Chapter Three Methods There has not been much research conducted that has attempted to visually reconstruct or model the detailed processes of a criminal episode (Clarke and Felson, 1993). Ethnographic approaches and qualitative methodologies in general are beneficial in that they can fill in this gap in criminological theory and policy (i.e., through the time spent with active criminals during their normal routines, a wealth of information is gained making processes through each step of a criminal act) (Clarke and Felson, 1993). Within the current study, the depth of insight ethnographic and other qualitative studies can provide into the lives of professional (1993) 219). Concepts such as criminal background, cost benefit calculations, situational factors, the criminal event itself (successfully executed or avoided) and post crime a ctivity are thoroughly detailed and provide a template for rational choice themes that can be efficiently utilized in the qualitative study of professional criminals (Johnson et al., 1993, pp. 212 219). The benefits of using such qualitative studies may be seen in the insight provided into the decision making processes of professional criminals, with respect to issues of criminal intent and motivation, target selection, technical skills and strategies, and the benefits of successful crimes (Johnson, Nataraj an, & Sanabria, 1993). A
55 qualitative meta synthesis is an extremely useful technique that may be utilized to systematically identify, extract and integrate these concepts from within the sample and examine them within an RCP framework in an effort to exam ine the effectiveness of the RCP in the explanation of professional crime (Maher & Hudson, 2007). The integral components of a qualitative meta synthesis (grounded theory and thick description) are explored in the next sections. Grounded Theory With th e primary objective s of the current study being the assessment and refinement of theory, the most appropriate guiding methodological framework for the analysis vii ), i n which the researcher is constantly going back and forth between the data and the theoretical framework that is guiding the study (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). This iterative process allows for the systematic conceptualization of data categories based on the similarities and differences of the studies within the sample (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). Sampling, conceptualization, and coding methodologies within the grounded theory tradition all contribute to an analytic process that embraces multiple perspectives a nd interpretations in an effort to achieve greater understanding of the individual studies and the sample as a whole (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). These interpretations and perspectives are based on the multiple voices that frame a synthesis: the voices of t he offender and researcher within the study and the voice of the author of the synthesis (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). The author of the synthesis constantly shapes the synthesis n interpretive context while preserving the original perspectives of the offenders and the
56 interpretations of the researchers (Wright & Decker, 1994). One particular example of this within the sample may be observed in The Fence (1986), in which the voice s of Sam Goodman (the professional criminal) and Darrell Steffensmeier (the researcher) must be and interpretation of the synthesis. In order for the original contexts of the data to be preserved, the author of the synthesis must present an explanation that takes into account each voice that had a hand in shaping the synthesis. Strauss & Corbin (1994 ) caution that if the author of the of the synthesis may not be genuinely grounded in the studies. In order to account for p. 81) process of grounded theory methods and allowed for specific categories and operationalizations to emerge from the data while using the RCP as a guiding framework during the process (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). By engaging in a research process that al lows for the constant interaction between data collection and analysis, it is possible to determine how well the concepts used in the i.e., to and representativeness of the data) and and explanatory power of the concepts) (Glaser & Strauss, 1967, p. 3; Strauss & Corbin, 1994). Grounded theory is also supported by the concept of theory elaboration, which is examined below. Theory Elaboration Thornberry (1989) and Vaughan (1992) offe r support for grounded theory methodology by presenting the concept of a method in which qualitative case analysis is used to develop theory based on specific phenomena.
5 7 Thornberry (1989) identifies three sources of theory e addition, reduction, or reformulation of theoretical propositions; 2) e mpirical observations ( which constantly lead to theoretical refinement ) ; and 3) other theoretical models, in which co ncepts from other theories may play an integral role in the revision of concepts are refined with the goal of specifying their explanatory power relevant to specific circumstances, is conducted when the goal of a research study is the maximization of explanatory power within a theoretical framework (Thornberry, 1989). The c therefore supports the main objectives of the current study: refining concepts within the RCP (which has integrated concepts and findings from several disciplines into the theoretical framework), and increasing the potential for explanati on (with respect to professional criminals) by offering conceptual clarity within the framework as a whole. In addition to using the comparative and interactive process es of theory elaboration and grounded theory methods specific methods of explanation m ust be used to convey meaning. The process of utilizing thick description in a qualitative meta synthesis is examined below. Thick Description The Interpretation of Cultures (1973) is related to clinical inferenc e in psychology and medicine. Thick description is the process by which human behavior is described in context so that it becomes meaningful to an which what symbol ic action has to say about itself that is, about the role of culture in
58 human life ethnographic research processes thick description complements grounded theory methods in that the goal is to use language ( i.e., the integration of metaphors) to make holistic interpretations from individual observations relating to similar phenomena (Geertz, 1973). Similar to grounded theory methods, Geertz (1973) suggests that an interpretation of indiv idual framework. Strauss & Corbin (1994), however, make a point to clearly differentiate densit which rest on great famililarity with associated data and are checked out systematically cription is an important part of ethnography in that it uses language to theoretically ground individual observations in a holistic context meaningful to a particular audience, conceptual density within grounded theory methods emphasize theory development through every phase of a research process (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). Both grounded theory methods and thick description are integral parts of a qualitative meta synthesis, which is examined in the next section. A Qualitative Meta synthesis The most appropriate analytic technique to be used for the type of sample being used in the current study ( i.e., offender population with a hidden nature; mostly qualitative research available) is a qualitative meta synthesis. Meta synthesis is a relatively new ye t effective technique for the integration of key findings and concepts
59 found within qualitative studies examining similar phenomena (Noblit & Hare, 1988; Sandelowski et al, 1997; Hodson, 2004; Zimmer, 2004; Bondas & Hall, 2007; Maher & Hudson, 2007). The goal of a meta synthesis is to provide a greater wealth of knowledge and a more extensive understanding of both the theory and the phenomena being studied through the recognition and integration of patterns and concepts found in the data (Bondas & Hall, 20 07). While narrative reviews of qualitative research present findings of individual studies which are examined in the context of other studies, much of this research is not examined in a collective way where a wide variety of qualitative work may be comp ared and contrasted (McCormick, Rodney & Varcoe, 2008). A meta synthesis is not secondary data analysis and provides more than just a summation or review of findings in the qualitative literature (Zimmer, 2004; Bondas & Hall, 2007). Through the analysis and integration of individual study findings, a qualitative meta synthesis contributes to a more thorough understanding of the phenomenon, which aids in the building of knowledge and the development of theory (Zimmer, 2004; Bondas & Hall, 2007, McCormick e t al., 2008). In this way, qualitative meta synthesis moves beyond a narrative literature review (which provides descriptions and summarizations of general findings of qualitative research studies and attempts to link them in a linear manner) in that a m eta synthesis of individual qualitative study findings provides deeper insight into the phenomenon as a whole through its recognition and refinement of shared theoretical concepts (Campbell et al, 2003; Doyle, 2003). Choosing to implement a qualitative meta synthesis does present certain challenges. Challenges to this kind of analytic technique are due in large part to its
60 scarce utilization in the literature and lack of consensus with how to implement sampling and an alytic techniques within the synthesis (Sandelowski, Docherty & Emden, 1997; Sandelowski & Barrroso, 2002a). Although potential difficulties may arise when attempting to synthesize qualitative literature, which are due in large part to the distinct findi e.g., theoretical, disciplinary, philosophical, social, ethical, political) within a sample, a meta synthesis both adds to the development of the theory and enhances the generalizability of qual itative research findings through the integration of key research findings and concepts pertaining to a specific phenomenon (Sandelowski et al, 1997). Sandelowski & Barroso (2002a) recognize that without efforts to integrate the findings of different qual While studies implementing qualitative meta syntheses have been conducted in fields outside of criminology ( e.g., Camp current study demonstrates the opportunity to use this analytic technique to gain a deeper u nderstanding of many types of criminological phenomena. Studies of professional criminals, which exist mostly in the form of ethnographies and life histories, often apply different theoretical approaches and utilize different qualitative methodological approaches. The utility of using a qualitative meta synthesis in the current study is that it allows for the integration of theoretical concepts that are derived from multiple studies that use different qualitative methods; this is possible as long as the methodological assumptions of each individual study are carefully considered
61 and the studies chosen to be included in the synthesis offer the most rewarding data with respect to the original research o bjectives (Doyle, 2003; Zimmer, 2004). In addition, s ynthesizing studies that are derived from a diverse set of methodological approaches and backgrounds may in fact strengthen the analysis in a meta synthesis by counteracting the methodological limitations that exist within the individual studies (McCormick et al., 2008). A qualitative meta synthesis is proposed for the current study due to its ability to provide a deeper level of understanding within the RCP than may be provided by a qualitative literature review or a meta analysis, and this understanding may help assess the explanatory power of the RCP with respect to professional crime, as well as the conceptual efficacy of the operational refinements offered by several disciplines over the past few decades. Further, a qualitative meta synthesis is being implemented in the current study in the hopes of providing conceptual clarity within the RCP as a whole ( i.e., taking into account and clarifying the concepts found in the RCP literature which have often been overlooked or taken for granted within the fra mework). In order to conduct a meta synthesis that fits with the sample used in the study, it is first important to determine how the studies are related to one another (Noblit & Hare, 1988). Noblit & Hare (1988) suggest three ways in which the studies may be related: 1) a reciprocal translation ( i.e., direct translation), in which ethnographies are synthesized when they are g enerally about similar phenomenon ; 2) a refutation (translation of refutation al accounts), in which ethnographies possess competing explanations of a similar phenomena; or 3) a line of argument, in which the ethnographies are viewed as parts of a whole The relationship of studies as identified above determines the synthesis appro ach to be used (Noblit & Hare, 1988). The utilization of a qualitative meta
62 synthesis in the form of a line of argument approach is proposed for the current study because the units of analysis (books containing qualitative accounts of the lives and decisi on making processes of professional criminal s ) illustrate that the offender s being utilized in the current study belong to identifiable criminal subgroups that comprise a larger (professional) criminal subculture The utilization of a line of argument syn thesis within the current study i s examined in more depth later in the chapter, following the sampling procedures and coding processes that comprise the first steps of the synthesis process. In an attempt to find the best approach to a qualitative meta syn thesis within the current study, the work of several researchers heavily influenced the sampling and analytic methods employed: e for reading synthesis of qualitative ) recommendations for enhancements of the meta analysis of meta analysis within qualitative health research. Following the approaches of these scholars (specifically Noblit & Hare (1988), Doyle, (2003) and McCormick et al. (2008)), th e meta synthesis process employed in the current study adhered to the following steps: First, an initial research interest was identified ( i.e., the conceptual efficacy of rational choice) which may be informed by qualitative research. Second, the studie s to be included in the sample were identified through an inclusion/exclusion criteria process based on their relevance to the initial research interest and quality of the study. Third, the
63 studies were read repeatedly and relevant concepts were identifie d. Fourth, similarities and differences between these concepts were examined across the entire sample to determine how the studies were related Fifth, while maintaining the main concepts of each individual study ( i.e., preserving the context of individu al themes), idiomatic translations were created which translate d the meaning of the text from one book to another ( i.e., common metaphors were created for the sample as a whole ) (Barnwell, 1980) Sixth, the translations were synthesized, meaning that the concepts and metaphors were examined in order to determine if the new interpretations could be further translated into each other ( i.e., determine if they were Hare, 1988, p. 34)). Finally the synthesis was expressed in a way in which the translations ( i.e., metaphors) were deemed appropriate for the intended audience. The steps described in this analytic process that ha ve been heavily influenced by the works of Noblit & Hare (1988), Doyle (2003) and McCormick et al. (2008) are examined in more depth in the following sections, beginning with the sampling process which is described below. Sample Case Selection Followin g the sampling search procedures of Hodson (2004), the books used in this study were found th rough computer assisted searche s of campus libraries (interlibrary loans were also used in order to obtain certain books not available locally), and by searching f or books referenced in the bibliographies of the books already located, as well as by perusing the books located on the shelves that were in close proximity to the
64 originally located books. While this sampling procedure was purposive and not exhaustive, the methodological integrity of the study is not weakened in this respect since the purpose of a meta ethnography (N oblit & Hare, 1988; Doyle, 2003, p. 326; Campbell et al, 2003). In other words, the goal of a meta ethnography is to help create an understanding of the connections and interactions between comparable situations and phenomena, and further, to produce new conceptualizations of the collective interpretation of the phenomena as a whole (Noblit & Hare, 1988, Doyle, 2003). This suggests that a purposive sampling strategy is justified in the current study in that the goal is not to predict future behavior or p is to take into account multiple perspectives, consider new ways to approach and reflect upon the data, and to provide a holistic interpretation of the phenomenon (Noblit & Hare, 1988 ; McCormick et al., 2008). In addition, since a meta is interpretive and not additive, it is possible to have a sample of books that have different research perspectives, purposes, findings or interpretations as long as th ey offer the most rewarding data to the synthesis ( i.e., how well they address the original research o bjectives) (Doyle, 2003) Therefore, the inclusion of a wide variety of professional criminal subgroups within the sample is acceptable as long as the ch aracteristics of each subgroup fit within the classification of professional criminals identified in Chapter 1 ( i.e., viewing crime as a career and exhibiting higher levels of organization, risk management and rationality than may be seen in street crimin als). These characteristics of professional criminals comprise the boundary conditions for the units of analysis in the current study ( i.e., inclusion/exclusion criteria) (Doyle, 2003). Using books containing information on the
65 lives and criminal decision making processes of professional criminal s as the unit s of analysis in this sample allows for the organization and comparison of theoretical concepts across a diverse set of professional criminal subgroups. In addition to establishing boundary conditions for the units of analysis, it is also necessary to define the boundary conditions for case requirements (Doyle, 2003). These criteria are examined below. Boundary Conditions for Case Requirements In order to be included in the sample for the current study, books had to contain qualitative material regarding the lives of professional criminals. Following (2003) suggestion, each study had to contain not only case descriptions, but also inter pretations and analysis preferably using widely established theories. This assertion simply reproduce data without offering an interpretation of the findings, but rathe r should offer their own view of the findings and explain the resultant interpretations from their own perspective. This study uses both books that specifically implement a rational choice perspective on the study of professional criminals ( e.g., Tunnell, 1992 ; Shover, 1996) as well as books whose accounts represent tenets of rational choice that were identified/predetermined to become key concepts to be included in the data collection process (these concepts are identified later in the section). In additi on, each book had to have been written by an academic ( e.g., professor, researcher) or professional criminal (or a combination of the two) in order to be included in the study, as well as contain strictly defined qualitative methodology (Campbell et al 2 003).
66 Characteristics of the Studies The qualitative methods employed within the sixteen books below range from informal talks and direct observation to in depth interviews, all of which are utilized to gain insight into the lives and decision making processes of professional criminals. Some of the books include large sample sizes while others provide information gained from individual case studies and life histories (Noblit & Hare, 1988). The books which comprise the sample and are included in the m eta synthesis conducted within the current study are identified below in the form of an annotated bibliography. The characteristics of these books are summarized in Table 1. 1. Adler, P. (1993). Wheeling and Dealing: An Ethnography of An Upper Level Dr ug Dealing and Smuggling Community New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Using direct participant observation and unstructured, open ended taped interviews and follow up interviews with key informants, Adler (1993) provides insight into the lives and decision making processes of upper level drug dealers and smugglers. This study, which spanned six years in Southwest County, California, provides an ethnographic account of the drug trafficking subculture, utilizing the perceptions and perspectives of t he drug dealers themselves to shed light on the deviant nature of their business and social worlds. 2. Chambliss, W. (2004). iUniverse Publishing, Incorporated.
67 Through the compilation of notes from direct ob servations, transcription tapes and extensive interviewing that took place over the span of three years, Chambliss (2004) presents the life of a professional thief, Harry King, who spent most of his fifty year criminal career in the area of safe cracking. This first person narrative, organized and presented by Chambliss (2004), provides great insight into the lifestyle and experiences of King, which are thoroughly documented over the course of his long criminal career. (1990). Breaking and Entering: An Ethnographic Analysis of Burglary Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. criminology and psychology, respectively, interviewed burglars in Texas with special emphasis on examining their target selection processes and strategies. The fencing strategies of burglars are also examined, as well as how burglars take advantage of those not involved in the criminal lifestyle to further their own criminal career. An ethnographic approach to this study provides the reader of their criminal behavior. 4. Jacobs, B. (1999). Dealing Crack: The Social World of Street Corner Selling Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.
68 Within the realm of professional drug dealers, Jacobs (1999) uses open ended interviews guided by specific category and subject headings in his ethnographic study of crack dealers. Jacobs (1999) identifies the importan ce of ethnographies and qualitative research in general in that it allows the exploration of an otherwise hidden population. In this case, chain referrals led to forty initial interviews and fourteen in depth follow up interviews with crack dealers in St Louis Missouri. 5. Klockars, C. (1974). The Professional Fence Glencoe, IL: The Free Press. Swaggi, which utilizes both in depth interviews and observation techniques, the twenty year career of a professional fence is thoroughly examined with respect to the illicit goods market and hand accounts (in his own words), there is much to be gained through the examination of the life and career of a professional fence. 6. Maher, L. (1997). Sexed Work: Gender, Race, and Resistance in a Brooklyn Drug Market. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. drug users in New York City provides a comprehensive account of
69 own words, Maher (1997) describes how these women view crime as wor k and a way of life, and how gender, race and class divisions affect how they work and live in a drug economy. 7. Polsky, N. (2006). Hustlers, Beats, and Others New York, NY: Aldine Polsky (2006) utilizes several qualitative measures (field research, direct observation, informal talks, and participant observation) to gain insight into the lives of professional hustlers. Using the sociology of deviance as the theoretical backdrop for such an exploration, Polsky provides an in depth examination of the lives and decision making processes of over 50 professional pool room hustlers over the course of approximately eight months. 8. Prus, R., Irini, S. (1988). Hookers, Rounders, and Desk Clerks: The Social Organization of the Hotel Community. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. Prus & Irini (1988) use observation and interview techniques to gain insight into the lives of sex workers. The complex processes involved in finding a locatio n, obtaining clients, avoiding police and violence, and making enough money to support their lifestyles are explored and the perspectives of these women are presented in their own words.
70 9. Shover, N. (1996). Great Pretenders: Pursuits and Careers of Pe rsistent Thieves New York: NY: Perseus Publishing. Shover (1996) utilizes over fifty autobiographies on persistent thieves, as well as previously published research and his (1996) work is strongly theoretically based, using a crime as choice framework to examine the lives and decision making processes of career criminals over the life course. 10. Simon, W., Mitnnick, K. (2005). The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers Somerset, NJ: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. Simon and Mitnick (2005) interview several hackers (some of whom who have used their former hacking skills and techniques to become security professionals) in an ef fort to identify and provide insight into some of the threats posed by hackers today. The interviews conducted by Simon and Mitnick (2004) were conducted in an attempt to help businesses protect their information and resources by illuminating the methods employed by hackers to attack their systems and networks. 11. Steffensmeier, D. (1986) The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, Publishing, Incorporated. Steffensmeier (1986) provides an in depth look into the crimin al career of a professional fence (dealer in stolen goods) in
71 his case study of Sam Goodman, which utilizes in depth interviews the text which provides an accurate portrayal of his criminal c areer, including the management of business and social relationships as well as some of the technical aspects of running a successful fencing business. 12. Steffensmeier, D., Ulmer, J. (2005). Confessions of A Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishing. Steffensmeier & Ulmer (2005) return to the case study of Sam Goodman, a professional fence, but present the material in a theoretical context. Specifically, this work chronics the life of Sa m Goodman, tracing his criminal career from onset through desistance, providing theoretically relevant concepts as the subtext 13. Sutherland, E. (1988). The Professional Thief Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. professional crime, The Professional Thief (1937) offers a conceptualization of the professional thief which has considerably impacted the study of other professional criminal subgroups over the next 7 0 years. Through the contributions of Sutherland and Chic Conwell (the professional thief whose life history this work is
72 based upon), several themes ( e.g., languages, codes of ethics, abilities, tools of the trade, and techniques) that have great bearing making process are extensively explored. 14. Tunnell, K. (1992). Choosing Crime: The Criminal Calculus of Property Offenders. Wadsworth Publishing Company. Using interviews and official records, Tunnell (1992) explores the criminal activities and decision making processes of repeat property offenders in Tennessee State prisons. Specifically, issues of motivation, neutralization of fears and alternatives to criminal activity are explored in an effort to gain insight into the decision making processes of these offenders. The concept of specialization is examined and the utility of deterrence is also addressed. 15. Wright, R., Decker, S (1996). Burglars on the Job: Street Life and Residential Break Ins. Boston, MA: North eastern University Press. Using semi structured interviews, Wright & Decker explored the criminal lives of 105 currently active burglars in St. Louis, Missouri. Insight into offender motivation, ideals and decision making processes in general are provid ed in the form of 16. Wright, R., Decker, S. (1997). Armed Robbers in Action: Stickup and Street Culture. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.
73 Using semi structured interviews and revisi ting crime scenes, Wright & Decker (1997) explore the decision making processes and criminal activity of 86 armed robbers. With special emphasis on target selection and risk management techniques, this study also identifies specific motivations for these offenders to engage in such a criminal lifestyle. The exclusion criteria for the current study were heavily influenced by the work of Sandelowski & Barroso (2002 b ) and Campbell et al. (2003). They suggest that an appraisal process may be used to screen out papers that are either inappropriate for inclusion or are of poor quality. Campbell et al. (2003) suggests that b y reading through each of the books originally selected in the sampling procedure and checking for a) defined qualitati ve measures and b) the consistent occurrence of the predetermined rational choice categories, it will become apparent which books should be included in a sample and which books will not fit within the synthesis and should thus be excluded (Campbell et al., 2003). This process which is an important component of grounded theory methodology ( i.e., the reliance on constant comparative methods and the interplay between data and theory), also facilitates the identification of key concepts found within the sample that will eventually be coded and serve as the data for the meta synthesis ; ( Glaser & Straus, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1994; Campbell et al. 2003). Sandelowski & Barroso (2002b) provide further detail into how a qualitative work should be read and appraised, and suggest that the quality of the study should be evaluated across several dimensions: the statement of the problem, the purpose/research questions, the review of the literature, the mindset toward the target phenomenon, the methods empl oyed, the
74 sampling strategy and techniques, the sample, the data collection techniques and sources, 47). The original sampling proc edures resulted in thirty four books that contained the criminal experiences and life histories of professional criminals. Following the guidelines of Sandelowski & Barroso (2002b) Campbell et al. (2003) and Doyle (2003) several books that were origina lly included in the sample that contained information pertinent to the lives of professional criminals were later excluded from the synthesis for several reasons (Campbell et al. 2003; Doyle, 2003; Sandeloski & Barroso, 2002b). First, several books were in the form of novels and did not exhibit true representations of ethnographic or qualitative material ( e.g., Ponzi: The Incredible True Story of the King of Financial Cons (1975); Catch Me If You Can (1980); Matchstick Men (2002 )). In addition, there were several books that did not discernibly use qualitative research methodology ( e.g., Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World The Art of D eception (2002); Hacker Culture (2002); Gray Hat (2005); tical examination of the class crime connection in Living Off Crime (2006)) or did not explicitly state the qualitative Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work (1978); The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man The Hacker Diaries: Confessions of Teenage Hackers (2002)). It has been suggested that books such as those descr ibed above ( e.g., lacking in ethnographic/qualitative material used or absent in clear descriptions of the methodologies employed) would not synthesize well with
75 other books in the sample that employ qualitative material with defined methodologies (Campbel l et al. 2003; Sandeloski & Barroso, 2002b). In addition, several other books comprised numerous methodologies and offender types, as well as being derived from a variety of sources for data collection ( e.g., men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld (2000).) Campbell et al. (2003) and Sandelowski & Barroso (2002b) sugges t that books such as these add to an already large number of voices being heard in the study ( e.g., voices of the offenders within the sample, voices of the researcher, voice of the synthesis) and may potentially over complicate the synthesis process. Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit By Knowing Them (1981) was excluded from the synthesis because the conceptual basis of the book ( i.e., how the offenders/prisoners manipulate the guards) did not fit with the rest of the sample or adequately address the research aim ( e.g., the concepts of rational choice identified for synthesis in the current study were lacking in this particular book) and would thus not synthesize well with the other books in the sample. Booster an d the Snitch (1964) was also excluded from the synthesis because the data wa s largely quantitative in nature A final list of the books included in the sample along with their respective study characteristics may be seen in Table 1 below. Analytic Plan In order to assess the conceptual efficacy of the RCP and permit conceptual refinement of the theory, the current study employs a qualitative meta synthesis in which
76 Table 1. Study Characteristics Author Study location Methods Professional Criminal Subgroup Number of participants Age Race/ethnic composition Sutherland (1937) Not documented Written descriptions by participant on topics prepared by the author and in depth discussions Thief Chic Conwell (male) 50 Not documented Klockars (1974) Not documented Case study In depth interviews Observation Fence Vincent Norfior Swaggi (male) Approx. 60 Not documented Steffensmeier (1986) Midstate penitentiary & release (unnamed cities) Case study In depth interviews Observation Fence Sam Goodman (male) 60 White Prus & Irini (1988) Over 50 bars/hotels in Observations and interviews Sex worker Not documented Not documented Not documented Cromwel & Olson (1990) Texas Interviews Burglar 30 27 male 3 female 16 43 (mean=25) Nearly evenly distributed among white, Hispanic, & African American burglars Adler (1993) Southwest County, California Unstructured, open ended taped interviews and follow up interviews with key informants and participant observation Drug dealer Observation of 65 dealers/ smugglers Taped interviews with 24 Smugglers: Male Drug Dealers: 10% Female 25 40 Predominantly White
77 Table 1 (Continued). Study Characteristics Author Study location Methods Professional Criminal Subgroup Number of participants Age Race/ethnic composition Wright & Decker (1994) Saint Louis, Missouri Semistructured interviews Burglar 105 currently active offenders 87 male 18 female Under 18 Over 40 69% Black 31% White Shover (1996) NA studies, previously published research, interviews, autobiographies Thief (robber, burglar) Over 50 autobiographies of persistent thieves NA NA Maher (1997) Bushwick Ethnographic Repeated interviews, multiple field observations Sex worker 45 women (full ethnographic sample of 211 women) 19 41 (mean=27.9) White, Latino, African American Wright & Decker (1997) Saint Louis, Missouri Semistructured interviews & revisiting crime scenes Armed robber 86 72 male 14 female Under 18 Over 40 97% Black 4% White Jacobs (1999) Saint Louis, Missouri Ethnographic Open ended interviews guided by specific category and subject headings Drug dealer 40 initial interviewees (34 male, 6 female) (10 new subjects, all male) Average age 17.5 (similar to original 40) African American
78 Table 1 (Continued). Study Characteristics Author Study location Methods Professional Criminal Subgroup Number of participants Age Race/ethnic composition Tunnell (2002) Tennessee State Prisons Interviews Official records Field notes Repeat Property Offenders 60 Males NA NA Simon & Mitnik (2003) Not documented Interviews Hacker Not documented Not documented Not documented Chambliss (2004) Seattle, Washington Interviews, direct observations, transcribed tapes Thief Harry King (male) Approx. 60 White Steffensmeier & Ulmer (2005) (unnamed city) Case study In depth interviews Observation Thief Sam Goodman (male) Approx. 60 White Polsky (2006) Chicago, Illinois; New York Field Research Direct observation, informal talks, participant observation Hustler Interaction with over 50 poolroom hustlers Not documented Not documented
79 key concepts from within the RCP are systematically extracted from individual studies of professional criminals and integrated to form new int erpretations of the sample in a holistic context As indicated at the beginning of this chapter Noblit & Hare (1988) propose seven steps in conducting a qualitative meta synthesis which begins with the selection of a research interest and moves through the identification and documentation of key concepts (from a sample of works pertaining to a similar phenomena) to the construction and integration of key themes and metaphors. Th e resultant synthesis provides a deeper understanding of key theoretical concepts within the RCP than may be provided by a literature review or meta analysis and these concepts may also be refined through the knowledge gained from the new interpretations ( Noblit & Hare, 1998) To expand on this, Noblit & Hare (1988) recognize three important steps within the analytic process that serve to reach this goal and this analytic process has been replicated by other ethnographers attempting a qualitative meta syn thesis (See McCormick et al., 2008). This process suggested by Noblit & Hare (1988) forms the basis of the analytic plan within the current study First, theoretical perspectives and assumptions must be clarified in order to ensure compatibility across each study (McCormick et al., 2008). Next, the concepts that are relevant to the theory must be identified in order to recognize how they may be translated into each other (McCormick et al., 2008). In other words, an iterative process of determining comm on metaphors that represent the collective themes and ( p. 940) is constructed, meaning tha t while the original meanings and contexts are preserved, the
80 goal of the synthesis is to examine and unde rstand the phenomenon in a broader context and allow for greater conceptual clarity within a theoretical context than may have been offered by the ind ividual studies themselves (McCormick et al., 2008) These steps, as they have been implemented within the current study, are examined in more detail in the following sections. Theoretical Concepts and Coding Proces s The current study follows the methods employed in the studies by Noblit & Hare (1988), Hodson (2004) and McCormick et al., (2008) for identifying and developing concepts and codes within a qualitative work. First, a list of concepts relevant to expected utility and rational choice was created based on recurrent concepts found in both the literature and the sample, including but not limited to the perceived costs and benefits of a criminal act, risk and cost management strategies, as well as emotional/mora l factors and additional elements embedded in the criminal career ( see Tables 2 and 3 ). Second, each book within the sample was carefully read and scrutinized several times in an effort to identify these concepts and allow for the recognition of new relat ed concepts As the readings progressed, the number of concepts deemed important for inclusion expanded and contracted as commonalities between the concepts found in each book emerged. A documentation strategy was then implemented in which codes were cre ated for each concept in order to aid in the process of recording these concepts from each book within the sample. Within this documentation strategy, a methodical reading approach was used in which each book was carefully scrutinized and codes were docum ented by page number and verbatim transcription of text was used to encourage an overall consistency
81 in the data collection process. After each book had been read numerous times in conjunction with the continued documentation of key concepts within the ma terial, a final list of key concepts was created which best represented the sample and research aims. These key concepts and codes are defined below and summarized in Tables 2 and 3. Expected Utility According to the EU model, individuals choose to en gage in criminal activity if the expected utility of crime exceeds that of all other behavioral options perceived costs and benefits of a criminal act. Within the current study, three dimensions to both the perceived benefits and costs of a criminal act within the expected utility formula are measured: probability, intensity, and salience. These six dimensions represent the key concepts of the study within the expected utility f ramework. These concepts are explored below, with examples of how quotes or passages of text which fall into these respective categories are documented by code and page number and recorded verbatim from books within the sample These concepts, as well a s how they are coded for the synthesis, is displayed in Tables 2. The probability dimension of the benefits component refers to the professional Though crack income m ay be ephemeral, when it does come, it comes fast and furiously. The cash that could purportedly be made in a short period of time with little effect was attractive. (Jacobs, 1999, p. 27) [PPB]
82 Table 2. Economic Origins Concepts & Operationalizations Concepts Expected Utility Operationalizations Benefits PPB (Perceived Probability of Benefit) PIB (Perceived Intensity of Benefit) PSB (Perceived Salience of Benefit) Costs PPC (Perceived Probability of Cost) PIC (Perceived Intensity of Cost) PSC (Perceived Salience of Cost) The intensity dimension of the benefits component refers to the professional e.g., amount of money attained): burglars I mean the decent ones, if they come out with some bigger hits, but lotta smaller ones too. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 82) [PIB] The salience dimension of the benefits com ponent refers to the professional As an incentive for fencing stolen goods, money is important to Sam for more than just its potential for acquiring material possessions. As with the rest of us, Sam places great importance on the symbolic value of money for satisfying all sorts of diverse needs in our society. Thus, when Sam interprets his fencing involvement as money motivated, he means several things. First, he enjoys what money can buy the goods and services that
83 can be bought with it. Second, he enjoys the process of making money the feelings of satisfaction and well being that come from turning a fast dollar. Third, Sam enjoys the peer recognition that comes both f rom having and making money, since money is associated with achievement and recognit ion or, conversely, of failure. (Steffensmeier, 1986, pp. 220 221)[PSB] Similarly, the cost component of the expected utility model ( i.e., the perceived or actual negative consequences resulting from criminal activity such as arrest, incarceration, injury, or death) are divided into three dimensions (probability, intensity, and salience). The probability dimension of the costs component refers to the perception of the likelihood of incurring certain costs of a criminal act ( i.e., risk of getting caught) when becoming involved in specific criminal acts and general types of criminal offending: I was arrested six, maybe seven times in American City. By the state I thought I had a Got popped for buying from a co uple of in between burglars and from Dorothy Ford snitching on me. Ended up doing about four years in the Midstate Penitentiary. The only good thing to come out this was, this was my last time in the penitentiary. My last fall. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 183) [PPC]
84 The intensity dimension of the costs component refers to the professional that may be incurred as a result of criminal activity ( e.g., number of arrests, length of incarcerations ): Many of the offenders had unrealistic or erroneous perceptions of the punishment severity for the crime they committed. Each participant reported that they knew their actions were illegal and therefore did their after their arrest rather than before (Walker, 1985). Their perceptions of the severity of legal sanction were unrealistic. Therefore, risk was weighted less than it ideally should hav e been. (Tunnell, 2002, p. 90) [PIC] The salience dimension of the costs component refers to how important the or personal life: you try to make your (Chambliss, 2004, p. 94) [PSC] R ational Choice Considerations. In order to address the research aim of the current study, it is necessary to include concepts of rational choice within the coding and synthesis processes. As illustrated in Chapter 2, there are several elements of an
85 off making process that are not operationally included in the expected utility formula. In order to test the conceptual efficacy of the RCP and permit conceptual refinements of the RCP, it is necessary to identify these concepts and include them in the synthesis. These concepts, as well as how they are coded for the s ynthesis, is displayed in Table 3 While the measures for expected utility within the current study take into account the perceived costs to an offender ( e.g., proba bility, actual/perceived intensity and salience ), the measures for the RCP concepts have been adapted from the operational additions to the EU formula offered by several disciplines as described in Chapter 2. Therefore, measures of costs to an offender ha ve been expanded to include emotional elements such as shame/embarrassment, anxiety, and guilt. The s hame/embarrassment worth or self disgust before, duri ng, or follow ing a criminal act: Last, when party pursuits are not going well, feelings of shame and self disgust are not uncommon. When offenders find themselves in these straits, they often take steps to reduce these feelings by distancing themselves volunt arily from conventional others. (Shover, 1996, p. 99) [S/E] The measure for anxiety feelings of tension which contribute to uneasy feelings wh en engaged in criminal activity:
86 Table 3. Rational Choice Concepts & Operationalizations (Synthesis era and beyond) Concepts Costs Benefits Operationalizations Sh/Em (Shame/Embarassment) An (Anxiety) G (Guilt) M (Money) Pr (Property) E (Excitement) OS (Offender Status) Opportunity Opportunity (O) SO (Situational Opportunity) OT (Opportunity from Tips) Risk Risk Management PR (Perceived Risk) RT (Rational Techniques) TS (Target Selection) LC (Connections with Law) Cost Management CM (Cost Management) Emotions A (Anger) F (Fear) Morals/Values M/V (Morals/Values) R (Rationalizations) Necessity/Limited Alternatives N (Necessity/Limited Alternatives) Situational Factors SF (Situational Factors) Criminal Codes/Rules of Ethics CC/RE (Criminal Codes/Rules of Ethics) Criminal Careers CWL (Crime as Way of Life) S (Specialization) CO/T/T (Career Opportunities Trajectories/Transitions) D (Desistance)
87 ays looking over your shoulder. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 48) [A] The measure for guilt experience of painful negative emotions in the form of feelings of dishonor or responsibility for wrongdo ings the offender has committed : For our purposes, the important point is that during their robberies a majority of the offenders could not be constrained by a guilty conscience; they simply did not have one. That said, some of them reported feelings of guilt immediately following a stickup, especially if dissipate quickly so that, when the need to commit another stickup arose, they no longer carried much emotional force for the o ffenders. (Wright & Decker, 1994, p. 127) [G] Similar to the expansion of the cost measures of expected utility described above, the RCP measures for perceived benefits in the current study are also defined in specific Therefore, the RCP measures of benefits in the current study move beyond measures of probability, intensity, or salience and clearly delineate the specific perceived benefits involved in the offender decision making proc ess. These concepts and measures have been adapted from both the RCP literature and the books in the sample. The RCP measures of offender benefits within the current study include money, property,
88 excitement, and offender status. These measures are de scribed below, along with how these passages were documented. The money component of the benefits measure refers to the professional with respect to feelings of status or success : As an incentive for fencing stolen goods, money is important to Sam for more than just its potential for acquiring material possessions. As with the rest of us, Sam places great importance on the symbolic value of money for satisfying all sor ts of diverse needs in our society. Thus, when Sam interprets his fencing involvement as money motivated, he means several things. First, he enjoys what money can buy the goods and services that can be bought with it. Second, he enjoys the process of ma king money the feelings of satisfaction and well being that come from turning a fast dollar. Third, Sam enjoys the peer recognition that comes both from having and making money, since money is associated with achievement and recognition or, conv ersely, of failure. (Steffensmeier, 1986, pp. 220 221) [PSB] The property component of the benefits measure refers to additional gains to the professional criminal that may have monetary or status related value ( e.g., clothes, cars, jewelry): I can remember when I would pay $250 for a suit of clothes and then overhaul a slot machine with them on and get them all greasy and take
89 attainable. The only thing I was very conservative about was my cars (Chambliss, 2004, p. 18) [Pr] The excitement component of the benefits measure refers to one of the non monetary/material pleasures of being a professional thief, in which an offender may experience a positive emotional rush in th e process of committ ing a crime: Third, Sam was drawn to the excitement and action of making money from crime. The wheeling and dealing of fencing, the risk of getting caught, the possibility of a really big deal, were all sources of stress and ne of the things he seemed to miss was desire for excitement seemed to be one thing, along with the money, of course, that could draw him back into crime in his moonlighting phase. (S teffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, pp. 349 350) [E] The offender status component of the benefits measure refers the professional fr om peers, and feelings of pride: The whole thing was being noticed. That everybody knew me, knew respect you for what you are. Take the thieves asking for adv ice, really they are looking up to you. (Steffensmeier, 1986, p. 222) [OS]
90 Beyond the expansion of the cost/benefit measures within the RCP framework, other RCP considerations have been included in the coding process that have been adapted from the revi ew of the literature and found in the sample. For example, concepts ability to deal with emotions or situational factors may influence how expected utility and other rational choice factors are perceived and managed. These concepts and their respective codes are described below. The opportunity measure is separated into several componen ts: opportunity, situational opportunity, and opportunity from tips. Opportunity is defined as chances to engage in criminal activity which are recognized by a professional criminal as attractive yet may require careful planning techniques and strategies ( e.g ., staking out a residence o r following a potential victim): Throughout the study, it was obvious that burglars exhibited wide variation in experience, skill, commitment to burglary and the level of planning and forethought given to their crimes. One way to categorize them would be to the extent to which they were opportunists as opposed to being planners. Our subjects fell along a continuum between being passively opportunistic that is, taking advantage of presented opportunities when they occurred r andomly in the course of their routine activities to seeking out and creating opportunities for crime. However, an opportunistic burglar was not
91 necessarily an amateur. Opportunism does not necessarily imply lack of rationality. A burglar may make a comp letely rational decision to take advantage of certain criminal opportunities when they arise, or to seek out or even create opportunities in a systematic manner. (Cromwell & Olson, 1990, pp. 39 40) The situational opportunity measure refers to situations that arise in which the offender recognizes as a low risk or rewarding target to be taken advantage of ( e.g., seeing an unlocked door or open window) and does not necessarily require planning or the utilization of rational techniques : The sites, more often than not, were targets of opportunity rather than site at an opportune moment when the occupants were clearly absent and the target was perceived as vulnerable (open garage door, windows etc.). (Cromwell & Olson, 1990, p. 19) [SO] The opportunity from tips measure refers to the information given to professional criminals from a variety of sources ( e.g., other offenders, court officials) that awards one with the knowledge of specific and potentia lly lucrative criminal activity: We always got a lot of tips on places to clip like from a bartender, an insurance man, a salesman, maybe a guy that drives a delivery truck. But t it the other way. When someone can tell you, so and so is going on
92 vacation for two weeks. Even knows that someone two doors down the street checks the place twice a day. And when you get in, the money or s you feel wonderful in itself. (Steffensmeier, 1986, pp. 47 48) [OT] feelings abo ut the probability, intensity or salience of costs of a criminal act (within the expected utility measure described above), instances of risk perception are also specifically documented with the rational choice measures. Perceived risk therefore refers t o specific instances where an offender perceives a criminal situation to contain higher or lower chances of being caught, or would result in greater or less severe punishment costs: In short, the armed robbers in our sample typically adopted a pragmatic approach when assessing the risks of potential robbery sites (see also Murray 1983). Did they stand a good chance of getting away? Were they likely to be seen by passersby? If the a nswers to those questions were yes and no respectively, most of them appeared to spend little extra time worrying about less predictable and more remote hazards ( e.g., being surprised by a security patrol). Given that the offenders were desperate to get c ash as quickly as possible, this makes perfect sense. From their perspective, it was better to get on with the offense than to ponder the risks indecisively. (Wright & Decker, 1997, p. 81) [PR]
93 The risk management measure is comprised of several componen ts within the the potential negative consequences of a criminal action ( e.g., being arrested or incarcerated) including: rational techniques, target selection, and c onnections with the law. The r ational techniques measure refers to the specific criminal methods used by professional criminals that demonstrate their careful planning and rati onal decision making processes: In addition to his covering of stolen goods under the guise of legitimate businesses where the stolen goods did not look out of place with the legitimate merchandise, Sam used a variety of other techniques at one time or another, depending on the situation, to avoid prosecution including: 1. not as king explicit questions about the origins of goods; 2. being extra careful with goods known to be stolen locally; to the theft and the goods; e stolen goods ( e.g., a concealed space under the floor in his American City shop, or an old abandoned railroad car); 5. moving/selling stolen goods as quickly as possible (while still making a profit); 6. creating vague or false receipts for goods; and finally,
94 7. gaining the complicity of law enforcement through outright corruption, giving bargains to police, or else occasionally helping to recover stolen property (as long as it did not involve snitching). (Steffensmeier and Ulmer, 2005, p. 99) [RT] T he target selection or establishment which offers the greatest likelihood of success or reward with the least amount of risk ( e.g., an armed robber searching for a victim perceived to offer li ttle resistance a burglar searching for a housing unit with n o alarms or close by neighbors): Being motivated to commit a crime is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the actual commission of the act. Even a highly motivated burglar one who has immediate need for money must still locate a vulnerable target and manage to effect entry without detection. These tasks are not as simple as they may appear to be. As Wright and Decker vast that finding a target would seem to be a simple matter. In practice, burglary target must: Be unoccupied (90 percent of the burglars we interviewed stated that they would not know ingly enter a residence where they knew someone was at home) Not be easily observed from the street of neighboring homes
95 be noticed as a suspicious stranger Be accessible relatively ea sy to break in to C ontain items worth stealing. (Cromwell & Olson, 1990, p. 18) [TS] The c onnections with law public officials (cops, lawyers, judges etc) to minimize potential risk or costs of a criminal activity: legal interruption of his business. If strategies of avoiding arrest and police investigation fail, however, the fence must turn his efforts to exploitation of the criminal justice system. For one thing, he may enjoy, as a result of personal contact, favors owed, or payoffs, the complicity of one or more of the main actors of the justice system: the prosecutor (or one of his assistants), the district magistrat es or lower court judges, and the trial court judges. Less directly, the fence may rely on the services of a skilled or well connected attorney to manage his dealings with the prosecutor or the judiciary. (Steffensmeier, 1986, p. 154) [LC] The cost man agement measure refers to the methods used by professional criminals to manage costs already incurred to limit their negative e ffect (e.g., becoming friends wit h or bribing law officials to decrease the Things were going smo othly. Was doing easy time, really. Knew how to handle myself from being in jail before, the juvenile reformatory.
96 warden for me to help out in the office. This was a plum job. The war and me were getting stuff from guys we knew from before and guys from jail who were now out cigars, candy, hams, different things. a lotta (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 47) [CM] Offenders often experience certain emotional responses to the criminal activity in which they are involved. As seen in the review of the literature, two common emotions involved in crime commission are anger and fear. The anger measure refers to an emotional arousal in which the offender experiences heightened states of hostility or rage : No one can say confidently what the net result of such a development would be, but it is useful to note that enduring extremely harsh or brutal treatment can reassure some prisoners even as it kindles dangerous emotions. I refer specifically to embitterment, anger, and the desire to a criminal pathway, this experience toughened and made him resolute. (Shover, 1996, pp. 181 182) [A] The fear measure refers to a negative emotional reaction to a criminal situation in which the offender experiences feelings of immense concern or appreh ensiveness :
97 Men and women with a distinct preference for burglary often are afraid of the drama and uncertainty of armed robbery. They do not want to at the hands of the victim or the police. Equally feared are the long prison terms that this contingency would bring. Burglary for them represents a favorable compromise between safety and the quest for bigger money. (Shover, 1996, p. 65) [F] Offenders often have certain morals or v alues that guide the kind of criminal activity they engage in or at the very least shape how they perceive it. The morals/values criminal activity they are involved i n ( e.g., notions of right vs. wrong refusal to engage in certain kinds of crime mechanisms to deal with feelings of guilt): The great majority of these sixty criminals never thought of punishment or capture and did not feel guilty about what they had don e. This is not to imply that they are amoral misfits, for my findings and earlier studies suggest that offenders are moral individuals who experience guilt feelings at some point in their criminal careers ( e.g., Frazier and Meisenhelder, 1985). Even whil e frequently engaging in criminal actions, these offenders knew their actions were wrong. But, they were able to rationalize their feelings due to desire or necessity, or they were able to put the wrongfulness of their actions out of their minds and not
98 d well on them. Likewise, the offenders did not desire punishme nt. (Tunnell, 2002, p. 97) [M/V] The rationalizations e.g., blaming the victim, denying that one harmful): In sum, by offering positive anecdotes about his own generosity, by defining the average citizen as having larceny in his heart, and by finding others thieves, corrupt police, and unscrupulous fences more morally bankrupt than hims elf, Sam can lay claim to his own good character (namely, that in spite of everything he has done, he is a pretty ac tivities, and that matters of conscience seldom keep respectable people from buying stolen items from him. (Steffensmeier, 1986, pp. 251 252) [R] The necessity/limited alternatives engage in criminal acts or tur n to a criminal career/lifestyle based on their inability to secure a lif estyle through legitimate means: Legitimate opportunities for the majority of these respondents to earn a decent wage were structurally limited. Although they may not have been able to articulate it, they were aware, at least intuitively, of the odds against them, and often opted for illegitimate means to obtain
99 socially approved success goals (Merton, 1949; Cloward and Ohlin, gainst experienced those well known difficulties associated with being ex convicts (Goffman, 1963; Becker, 1963). (Tu nnell, 2002, p. 57) [N/LA] The situational factors measure refers to specific situations or conditions that may decision making process ( e.g., victim resistance police pres ence security/guard dogs) : We found that burglars are opportunistic and are easily deterred or displaced from one target site to another. Situational factors such as the presence of a dog, an alarm system, security hardware, and alert neighbors may be the most effective deterrents. (Cromwell & Olson, 1990, P. 32) [SF] The c riminal codes/rules of ethics measure refers to the common understandings e.g., n ot snitching on other offenders, spli tting a cut from a score fairly, not speaking about criminal endeavors with friends/family outsid Are rules, understandings, that burglars and thieves have, at least the better ones. Not to be a snitch is a m blabber puss, running off the mouth, to your buddies or girlfriend about
100 are working wi Are other understandings, too. One is that everybody on the job should job will split it evenly amongst themselves but may chi sel the dropoff or if somebody is not a regular but is just brought in for this job. a witness who has seen your face. And what if the fucker has a gun and starts firing. Another understanding is, say, you come across another crew operating then move on and let them be. It is first come, first served. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, pp. 81 82) [CC/RE] The crime as career concept represents an important tenet of the RCP literature. making processes over t he life course. Within the criminal careers concept, measures of crime as a way of life, specialization, career trajectories/transitions and desistance are presented below. The crime as a way of life measure refers to an offender who persists in crimina l activity for an extended period of time and views crime as a lifestyle. Crime as a way of life also indicates that an offender is making living primarily from the illegal activities in which one is engaged:
101 The persistent offender is one who has b een criminally active over a long period of time, sees himself as somewhat of a professional, and concentrates on planning more than the sporadic offender. The sporadic criminal offender identified in this research is one who has committed crimes infrequen tly and often opportunistically. This type is uncommitted to a criminal lifestyle and has a lower "success" record ( i.e., they have been punished for a greater percentage of their crimes than the persistent offender). (Tunnell, 2002, p.116) [CWL] The sp ecialization measure refers to the i nstances where a professional criminal which may be a result of an offender being comfortable or successful with that type of criminal activity, or from an absence of opportunity or a lack of the required skills needed for other types of crime : There are different sides to whether a thief will specialize or not. Many anything to make a buck, you will more likely end up in jail. Will depend, can the guy get the contacts, can he hook up with other guys who are decent, which will limit what kinds of clipping he is doing. Then, are you good at it and how comfortable do y ou feel. If that falls into place, then this will become you r main thing. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 320) [S] The career opportunities/trajectories/transitions measure refers to the existence and recognition of opportunities over the course of the criminal career that may heavily
102 from criminal activity altogether : On the other hand, criminal careers empirically exhibit both consistency and change, as well as key turning points. As abundant literature shows (see the review in Ulmer and Spencer 1999), many pathways exist into and out of crime across the life course, and criminal propensity is not inherently stable over time. Some of the themes from tive suggest that much change in criminal careers stems from variations over time in differential association processes and in access to attractive criminal opportunities and networks. Furthermore, labeling processes can heavily influence deviant career t rajectories, as can luck, and situational and other factors. In addition, the original causes of behavior may not be the same as the later causes that sustain or entrench criminal behavior. There is considerable ebb and flow in (most) criminal careers as offenders adjust to shifts in tastes, abilities, and opportunities. Furthermore, thes e shifts are often age related. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 302) [CO/T/T] The desistance measure refers to instances when professional criminals stop engaging in c riminal activity and may be due to: aging out, lack of opportunities, or a greater awareness of risks: The rational choice perspective appears to be a useful way of understanding and analyzing not only the initiation of criminal
103 behavior and drug taking but also the cessation of these behaviors. Burglars reported desisting from crime or functionally displacing (to less serious types of crime such as shoplifting) for a variety of losing interest in the activit ies that excited and thrilled them when younger. Some gained powerful ties to conventional society through marriage or by obtaining a meaningful job, making burglary less attractive. Many others, however, desisted only after having served one or two prev ious incarcerations. These desisters reported that they had finally begun to consider the potential long term consequences of their behavior. Their past criminal history made them more subject to increasingly severe penalties. (Cromwell & Olson, 1990, p p. 80 81) [D] The final list of concepts and codes to be included in the synthesis (seen in Tables 2 and 3) are utilized in several analytic steps that culminate in the creation of a line of argument synthesis The utilization of a line of argument syn thesis within the current study is now explored. Line of Argument Synthesis Since each of the studies to be used in the meta synthesis is representative of a particular professional criminal subgroup, the most appropriate synthesis for the current study i s a line of argument synthesis (Noblit & Hare, 1988). This analytic technique allows for the drawing of inferences about a particular culture or organization as a whole
104 by examining studies based on its component parts (Noblit & Hare, 1988). The purpose of the synthesis is to attain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon and higher level s of conceptual clarity within the guiding theoretical framework than what would be offered by any of the individual qualitative studies (Campbell et al., 2003). As described at the beginning of this chapter, the first step in the analytic process of the current study (once the concepts and codes have been created and docum ented from the sample) was to examine the similarities and differences between the concepts as they vary across the criminal experiences and decision making processes of a diverse set of professional criminal subgroups (Noblit & Hare, 1988; Doyle, 2003). This step was employed in order to determine how these concepts might take on new interpretive meanings within the sample and be integrated on a holistic level when the synthesis takes place (Noblit & Hare, 1988; Doyle, 2003). Next, it was necessary to c that leads to th e creation of common metaphors that can be created for the entire sample (Doyle, 2003). The purpose of this step wa s to recognize the common patterns and themes that emerge within the sample (while maintaining the original meanings/contexts of the offenders and authors within the sample) with respect to the theoretical concepts being addressed and to start viewing the sample as a whole. The final step was to synthesize these concep ts and metaphors in a way that provide d a broader view of the phenomenon while preserving the original contexts and meanings of the initial concepts (McCormick et al., 2008). As a result of this s ynthesis, which allowed for the integration of key concepts found within the sample (which pertain to the decision making processes of professional criminals and embody the tenets of the RCP),
105 opportunities to refine theoretical concepts within the RCP and provide greater conceptual clarity of the RCP framework as a whole emerge d (Noblit & Hare, 1988). In the following chapter, the results of the meta synthesis are presented and discussed.
106 Chapter Four Results Appraisal While the 16 books that were originally chosen to be included in the meta synthesis appeared to have satisfied the boundary conditions for inclusion in the sample, the final stages of the rigorous global review process demonstrated that several of the books would not synthesize well with the others because they did not satisfy the bounda ry conditions for units of analysis The conceptualization of the professional criminal within the current study is established in Chapter 1, and acknowledges that the ish this offender type from other classes of offenders (e.g. higher levels of organization, risk management a nd rationality, greater levels of status and success viewing crime as a career) The first paragraph The Professional Thief (1937) one of the first books written on the subject of professional criminals, illustrates this point: The professional thief is one who steals professionally. This means, first, that he makes a regular business of stealing. He devotes his entire work ing time and energy to larceny and may steal three hundred and sixty five days a year. Second, every act is carefully planned. The selection of spots, securing of the property, making a get away,
107 disposing of the stolen property, and fixing cases in whic h he may be pinched (arre sted) are all carefully planned (p. 3). While some may question the accuracy of such a description in more the police or media (and may not even be used by the professional criminal himself), several authors have illustrated that the main components of the professional criminal The Professional Thief (1937). For example, it is made app The Fence (1986) that: professional connotes, already inhere in the concept of fence as used in the underworld (p. 3). Cromwell & Olson (2004) also support this co nceptualization of the professional criminal and demonstrate that it transcends different types of offenders within this subgroup: Professional burglars constitute the elite of the burglary world. They are differentiated from the other categories by the level of their technical skill, their organizational abilities, and the status accorded them by peers and generally by law enforcement authorities. Professionals do not usually commit crimes of opportunity. They plan and execute their crimes with delibe ration. They have excellent recognized and accepted by others (other thieves, law enforcement,
108 42). Several books that were reviewed in the analytic process and coded with the intention of including them in the final sample based on their use of qualitative methodology appropriat e to the meta synthesis process, as well as their respective ith offender types that would fit well in this sample were ultimately excluded from the line of argument synthesis These books were excluded because after a more intensive examination of the offenders that made up these studies, it was realized they did not fit the as described above In order to stay faithful to the meta synthesis process, which requires that the data pertain to a similar phenomen on and is capable of producing concepts that fit and work wi thin a guiding theoretical framework, it was important to ensure that the offenders included in the final sample shared the main components of professional crime as conceptualized within the current study: being part of a criminal underworld, viewing crime as a business, possessing special skills that differentiate them from other types of offenders, engaging in planning and risk management strategies, being persistent in their criminal endeavors (viewing crime as a way of life), with their primary goal bei ng money and enjoying higher levels of success than other types of offenders due to these characteristics and higher levels of rationality in general. The books that were excluded at this stage of the analytic process are presented below, with quotes and explanations illustrating why they were excluded from the final synthesis.
109 Books Excluded from the Final L ine of A rgument S ynthesis Sexed Work (1997) was excluded not only because the criminal activity of the offenders in this book was most ofte n unplanned and opportunistic, but also because the auth theoretical framework for understanding the ways in which gendered and raced cultural narratives structure t he organization of While these theme s are not thoroughly examined in the current study (see limitations section in Chapter 5), themes of rational choice are also not developed in this book in a way that may provide fruitful data for synthesis with the other books in the sample. The offende Dealing Crack (1999) made their choices in a context where not only rationality is sharply bounded, but it barely exists (p. 41). These offenders did not engage in decision making processes representative of the conceptualized in the current study, but rather made decisions Armed Robbers in Action (1997) was more representative of the decision making processes of street offenders: Desperate to obtain quick cash to keep the party going, most armed robbers are primed to settle for the first, rather than the best, target available to them. The cool rationality that characterizes the target sele ction decisions described by imprisoned armed robbers is in short supply on the streets (p. 94).
110 Burglars on the Job (1994) did not focus on offenders who engaged in any level of rational decision making in their criminal a ctivity: Our results show that nothing could be further from the truth; the active residential burglars we talked with made hurried, almost haphazard, decisions to offend while in a state of emotional turmoil (p. 211). Breaking and Entering (2004) appeared to offer fruitful data with respect to the application of rational choice concepts to professional crime, a more rigorous examination during the later stages of the global review process revealed that the burglars in their stu dy: exhibited a wide variation in experience, skill, commitment to burglary, and the level of planning and fo rethought given to their crimes (p. 39). Therefore, while some offenders in their study exhibited characteristics of professional criminals, a l arge part of the sample was representative of novice offenders who did not consider long term risk and focused only on immediate and situational factors. Great Pretenders (1996) also provided a wealth of information on criminal activity represent ative of rational choice factors yet did not specifically examine the decision making processes and criminal activity of professional criminals. Not only was this study comprised of multiple samples (which would overcomplicate the synthesis process as exp lained in Chapter 3), these samples, while pertaining to persistent or career
111 thieves, were not comprised of professional thieves as conceptualized within the current study: Nevertheless, stealing in the contemporary world requires use of skills street l evel thieves have little knowledge of or experience with. They know little or nothing about entrepreneurship, the ability to organize personnel and resources for productive purposes. The same is true of their knowledge of managing hierarchical work organ izations. Inability or refusal to discipline themselves, to assume an entrepreneurial posture, or to rationalize their stealing through organization, careful planning, and assessment of changing criminal opportunities marks and handicaps them. Successful stealing over any appreciable period of time requires the same skills needed for success in legitimate occupational pursuits. Those who cannot or will not employ these skills are destined f or the correctional netherworld (p. 111). Cho osing Crime (1992) was comprised of ordinary repeat offe (p. 14). With respect to the decision making processes criminal decision problems seem to be resolved in a less than rational fashi on (p. 82) indicating that the offenders rarely considered the threat of capture, arrest, and imprisonment and that risk was considered a nuisance rather than a real, tangible threat the decision to commit a crime for these persistent These
112 offenders did not make criminal decisions that would categorize them as professional criminals and therefore were excluded from the synthesis. Meta analysis of Workplace Ethnographies (2004), it was deemed important to only include books in the final synthesis that Hustlers, Beats & Others (1967) and Hookers, Rounders & Desk Clerks (1980) focused on offenders across a range of criminal subgroups, often making comparative statements and collective interpretations. While there were doubts about the synthesizing potential of these books ( i .e., the conceptualization of professional criminal as utilized in the current study or if these books offered enough fruitful data with respect to RCP concepts to synthesize with the other books in the sampl e), the bigger issue is that because these books included multiple offender subgroups, the coding processes became overcomplicated when trying to collect inclusion in the meta synthesis process would thus jeopardize the reliability and validity of the synthesis (see Chapter 5) (Hodson, 2004). While it may appear that some of the books were excluded from the final meta synthesis because they did not support the tenets of th e RCP, it was necessary to exclude them to be faithful to the meta synthesis process. Although data were collected and coded for each of the books listed above, the importance of maintaining fidelity to the meta synthesis process justifies the exclusion of these books from the final synthesis, which was due to their inability to synthesize well with the other books. This inability to
113 synthesize may be due to inconsistencies in conceptualizations, the focus of the data collected ( i.e., the framing/present ation of the findings), or the qualitative methods employed. Including these books in the final synth esis when previous meta synthese s studies have demonstrated the inability of studies such as these ( i.e., similar data or methodological components/issues ) to synthesize with the other books in the sample would jeopardize the quality of the final synthesis (See Appraisal Process in Chapter 2) (Campbell et al., 2003). Revised Operationalizations During the later stages of the global review process, certain operationalizations of the rational choice categories were added or specified to more accurately represent the data. The iterative process of grounded theory methodology ( i.e., constant interplay between data and theory) allows for the constant re vision of conceptual and operational definitions as long as they are grounded in the data, guided by theory, and aim to illuminate relationships, patterns and themes within the sample (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). For example, a specific operationalization was included in that perceptions of cost: I sat down and tho ught about it a lot of times. Prison takes something know if it makes you bitter, hard, or whatever. You learn to trust only yourself in life. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 3 28) [Inc]
114 together and viewed as some of the non monetary benefits experienced by th e offenders: Doing it for fun, the devilment and to bullshit with your buddies about what you pulled, what you go away with. These were still the main reasons. (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 46 ) [E] activity and lifestyle: The professional thief, like any other professional man, has status. The status is based upon his technical skills, financial standing, connections, power, dress, manners, and wide knowledge acquired in his migratory life. His status is seen in the attitudes of other criminals, the police, the court officials, newspapers, and others. The term qualifying adjectives to refer to the professi applied with reserve and only to habitual criminals. It is considered a high compliment. (Sutherland, 1937, p. 200) [OS] was created gory to include references to criminal hierarchy, language and other elements specific to the criminal underworld: The professional thief lives in the underworld and has sympathetic and congenial relationships there. He is isolated from legitimate socie ty
115 except as he contacts it in his professional capacity, and legitimate society is largely isolated from the underworld. The underworld is an exclusive society because of the danger involved from strangers. Within the underworld communication regarding the law, which is the common enemy, is free. (Sutherland, 1937, p. 16 ) [CSC] was also added as a distinct operationalization professiona l criminals as they have been conceptualized in the current study: quantities, and his willingness to buy almost anything account far than the prices the thief will be paid for merchandise. Such competitive advantages should not be considered less significant merely because they do not directly determine prices. In running a fencing business it is most important that one gets the firs t opportunity to buy merchandise. Location, ready money, and reputation get the thief to come to Vincent first, giving him the chance to apply those techniques of bargaining I have described above. One can always pass up an offer. One can never buy that which has alr eady been sold to someone else. (Klockars, 1974, pp. 132 133) [CB]
116 an of process demonstrated that it was not common or salient enough to contribute to the synthesis or offer conceptual clarity within the RCP framework. Other operationalizati ons that were considered ( e.g., added because although there were some references to these concepts in the sample, their occurrences were also not common enough to make a considerable contribution to the synthesis. T he operationalizations that have been added were frequently referenced in each of the books within the sample and were deemed an important consideration with respect to the criminal decision making processes of the professional criminals included in the sa mple. The line of argument synthesis is examined in the next section. The Synthesis With hundreds of pages of data in the form of thousands of quotes and passages recorded from the final six books in the sample, the analytic process was divided int o six steps (the first two steps have been added since the beginning of the research process to help provide organization and clarity within the analytic process): 1) a final appraisal process to determine the books to be used in the final line of argumen t synthesis; 2) the basic inferences from these findings; 3) the utilization of the counts in conjunction with a final global review process to identify similarities/di fferences and patterns/themes in the concepts found in the sample; 4) the creation of key descriptors for each book which leads to 5) the creation of common metaphors for the sample as a whole to best represent the concepts in each book in a holistic and simplified manner; and 6) the synthesis of
117 these metaphors in order to make general interpretive statements about the sample as a whole. Final Appraisal Process The Art of Intrusion (2003) raised some concerns during earlier appraisal pr ocesses about its potential ability to synthesize with the other books in the sample due to its lack of focus on certain concepts that were heavily addressed in the other books ( e.g., offender status criminal subculture crime as a way of life). In addit ion to potentially compromising the final line of argument synthesis due to its lack of several significant concepts being addressed, there were also serious doubts as to whether or not these offenders fit the conceptualization of the professional criminal While these offenders did exhibit rationality and use their skills to engage in risk management strategies in order to obtain money, elements of criminal persistence ( i.e., criminal career), offender status, and criminal subculture were lacking in the book when compared to the other books in the sample. This book was excluded from the final line of argument synthesis in an effort to maintain the richness of data across all aspects of the professional criminal and rational choice categories. At first, it was n o Wheeling and Dealing (1993) would synthesize well with the other books in the sample based on discrepancies between the in the business aspect of their lives and their irrational hedonistic lifestyle: While these dealers and smugglers are business like in their occupational orientation, profit motivation, and rationally organized
118 work behavior, they are fundamentally commi tted to drug trafficking because of the uninhibited lifestyle it permits them to lead. They therefore act rationally for the ultimate end of living irrationally. This, then, is a study of a subculture of hedonism whose members have revolted against conve ntional society's rationalism and repression in order to indulge the impulses of their brute beings. (pp. 2 3) However, having fit the overall conceptualization of the professional criminal in conjunction with their representation of the rational choice concepts included in the current study, the addition of these offenders to the sample was an opportunity to expand the diversity of the offender subgroups included in the meta synthesis. The fluidity of the appraisal and conceptualization processes descri bed here and in the previous chapters is a testament to the complexities of grounded theory methods. The advantage of such an potential for thick description and theory elaboration offered by the meta synthesis (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). The books included in the final line of argument synthesis (Sutherland, 1937; Klockars, 1974; Steffensmeier, 1986; Adler, 1993; Chambliss, 2004 ; Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005) are listed in Appendix A. Findings from the operationalization counts are examined in the next section. Operationalization Counts process, Kirk & M iller (1986) justify this type of methodological technique in a
119 qualitative research endeavor by stating that the importance of qualitative research lies in its focus on human interaction with the consideration of the language and environment of the people counts as a way to reveal these patterns does not preclude the use of qualitative methodol ogy, as qualitative research often relies on the utilization of a diverse set of research methods (Kirk & Miller, 1986). The benefit of using counts in the current study is that it facilitates the analytic processes integral to grounded theory methods ( e. g., examining similarities and differences between each b ook within the synthesis, discovering patterns and themes across the sample as a whole) that are essential to the formation of a successful meta synthesis. The findings from the operationalization c ounts utilized in the current study are examined below and illustrated in Figure 1 and Appendix B. Findings from the Operationalization Counts. The operationalizations that had the greatest prevalence among the sample of books included in the final synth esis were nections below for the averages of the operationalization counts across the 6 books in the sample; See Appendix B for the individual operationalization counts within ea ch book).
120 Figure 1. Averages of Operationalization Counts. nearly as common. (perception of the probability, intensity, and salience of costs and benefits) was also highly prevalent in each of the books included in the synthesis, with the highest prevalence of reference s to the perceived probability of costs, the perceived intensity of 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Shame/Embarassment Anxiety Guilt Money Property Excitement/Enjoyment Offender Status Opportunity Situational Opportunity Opportunity from Tips Perceived Risk Rational Techniques Target Selection Law Connections Cost Management Anger Fear Morals/Values Rationalizations Necessity Situational Factors Criminal Codes/Rules of Ethics Criminal Subculture Crime as a Way of Life Crime as Business Criminal Opportunities/Trajectories/Transitions Desistance Incarceration Perceived Probability of Benefits Perceived Intensity of Benefits Perceived Salience of Benefits Perceived Probability of Costs Perceived Intensity of Costs Perceived Salience of Costs
121 costs, and the perceived intensity of benefits, with the lowest prevalence of references to also had a fairly high prevalence among the sample. References to RCP categories that were not as prevalent as those listed in the preceding paragraph yet were still common enough to be considered an important part of the criminal decision making process included that did not appear to have a considerable impact on the criminal decision making process rrassment , elements of the RCP were referenced in several of the books, they did not possess the same level of universal pervasivenes s as the other RCP categories and operationalizations. The most intriguing aspect of examining the counts was the discovery of a high amount of overlap with respect to the individual codes within the RCP categories being observed. For example, within Stef Confessions of a Dying Thief (2005), one passage revealed 11 individual operationalizations across several main RCP categories. The codes have been placed in the appropriate part of the passage to demonstrate this overlap: For Sam, t he opportunities were plentiful [O], the risks were manageable [PR], the rewards were attractive ( e.g., money [M], excitement [E], pride in his skill [OS]), and the criminal behavior was
122 a part of his sense of self. At the height of his career [CWL], Sam (and many of his co offenders) believed he would gain an attractive income from crime [PPB/PIB], would not get caught [PPC], would not serve much prison time if he got caught [PIC] ( e.g., because his business employs workers who provide economic support to their families), and he was not afraid to serve time because life in prison, while unpleasant, w as not threatening to him [PSC] (p. 299) The Profession al Thief (1937) contains references to nine operationalizations of the RCP categories used in the current study: The profession of theft, with the characteristics which have been described, is organized around the effort to secure money [M] with relative s reasons [PR]: First, he selects rackets in which the danger is at a minimum [TS]. The professional thief scrupulously avoids the types of theft which are attended with great danger and espe cially those the professional thief develops ingenious methods [RT] and the ability to control situations [SF]. A thief is a specialist in manipulating people and achieves his results by bein g a good actor [CWL]. Third, w hich he may be caught. [LC/PPC] (pp. 217 218)
123 While not every passage was as representative of the diverse set of operationalizations within the RCP catego ries considered within the current study, the majority of passages did contain some form of overlap, with almost every one containing multiple codes. This suggests the potential of concepts within the RCP to be simplified and/or combined in a way that pro vides clarity and refinement within the framework. In general the importance of constructing these counts is that it facilitates the analytic processes in which similarities and differences between the books in the sample are identified common patterns and themes within the sample are recognized and common metaphors may be created for the sample that can then be used to make interpretive statements in a holistic manner. While these counts facilitate the analytic process, they are limited in certain re spects. For example, they do not in dicate degree or directionality: a high prevalence of indicate that offenders viewed particular criminal activities to contain high levels of risk. Within this example, these counts indicate the number of references an offender makes to perceptions of risk or cost probabilities but does not indicate how salient these perceptions are in their decision making processes. Using th ese counts to make direct inferences about the offenders in the sample would be misrepresentative of their actual decision making processes, especially when the counts can also be skewed based on the length of a book within a sample of only six books. The utility of these counts is that they offer an initial construction of the stratification of concepts (according to making processes by identifying the average
124 number of times specific operationalizations are refer enced across the sample. The degrees of which these concepts are important and how they actually impact the decision making processes of the offenders in the sample are examined through the careful observation of the data (specifically the language used). These steps in the analytic process are examined throughout the remainder of the chapter. Recognizing Similarities, Differences, Patterns & Themes In addition to documenting operationalization counts, th e global review process also provides the opportunity to recognize similarities and differences between the books in the sample, as well identifying overall patterns and themes across the sample as a whole. The most overwhelming similarity between the offenders in the sample wi th respect to their motivation to offend was their desire to make money. While respect and thrill were also commonplace among the perceived non monetary benefits of these offenders, the primary benefit in their criminal activity was the acquisition and sp ending The Professional Thief (1937) was the only book that claimed excitement was not a desired benefit of professional criminals. According to Sutherland ay be attributed to the time period that this book was written, in that in more recent eras of criminal offending, professional criminals are more likely to have fun in the process of making money (as well as enjoying the thrilling aspects of a criminal li festyle where money is not the primary issue) than in the possession of money. Other similarities between the offenders in the books are their constant adaptation
125 management s trategy, their distrust of women, their clannish behavior, their understanding of criminal classes (i.e., stratification), their belief that prisons do not difficulty in going straight due to an isolation and/or estrangement from legitimate society in conjunction with the constant temptation and opportunities to engage in criminal activity. While each of the professional criminals in the sample possesses specific attr ibutes and highly specialized skills (e.g., awareness, heart, confidence, wits, front, ability to manipulate), certain attributes and skills pertain to the type of offender subgroup. For example, a professional safe cracker may possess more technical skill s, while a professional burglar may have more manual dexterity and be more inclined to use manipulate people and handle business aspects of that particular illegal en terprise (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005). Regardless of the specific skills that are required to Two of the most import ant themes within the sample are that professional criminals exhibit high levels of rationality in their criminal activity (i.e., they use highly developed skills and rely on planning and risk management strategies that are constantly being developed) and they view crime as a business (i.e., they are dedicated to their work and use specific angles and techniques to maximize their profit). Common risk management strategies are related to the planning and execution of crimes, the disposal of stolen goods, th e fixing of cases, and controlling the situation. Despite some feelings of
126 invulnerability, most of the offenders in the sample believed in the law of averages and considered being arrested a part of the criminal lifestyle. Most of the offenders attribut ed their arrests to the luck of the police or their own greediness. Overall, if one is careful and engages in the rational techniques described above, the professional criminal is (Sutherland, 1937, p. 122). They are frequently arrested because of their known presence in the criminal subculture (which often makes them prime suspects in a number of cases) during the trial, which is certainly not the norm (thus making time in prison highly unlikely). For many 138). Another important theme within the sample is the oscillat ion of criminal activity generalists, to full time operating and moonlighting, to desistance and a return to a criminal lifestyle. These offending pathways are based o n the skills, opportunities, and desires of the offender and are often age related (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005). The theme of career oscillations represents a non dichotomous view of desistance and identifies that many possible trajectories are possible over the course of a criminal career. Key Descriptors Following s to enhance the meta synthesis, the next step in the analytic process (after identifying similarities/differences and themes/patterns in
127 of the books in the sample and facilitate the creation of metaphors to be synthesized (Doyle, 2003, p. 333). According to Doyle (2003), implementing this stage of the analytic proces s helps to preserve the original meanings and contexts of the offenders studied in the books used in the sample, while maintaining the perspectives of the original authors as well. Identifying key descriptors within the sample uses language as a tool to a ccomplish this, as well as serving as an organizational tool that may be used to identify further similarities/differences, patterns and themes among the studies. By examining Table 4 below, one may make initial inferences about the sample in a holistic manner and recognize how these concepts may be translated into each other. For suggest that they have demonstrates the similarities and differences in how offenders and authors within the sample used language to describe similar concepts. For example, offe nders in five of the similar conceptualizations of status. With respect to the concept of cost management,
128 Table 4 Key Descriptors. Sutherland (1937) Klockar s (1974) Steffensmeier (1986) Adler (1993) Chambliss (2004) Steffensmeier & Ulmer (2005) Expected Utility with relative illegitimate entrepreneurial compensate for time/effort (p. 3) prestige Costs arrested, occasionally convicted, rarely compelled to do incurred from from legitimate 234) (p. 231) hell in many Benefits economic 225) (p. 225) 299) Opport unity 190) management affects perception of c 299)
129 Table 4 (Continued). Key Descriptors. Sutherland (1937) Klockars (1974) Steffensmeier (1986) Adler (1993) Chambliss (2004) Steffensmeier & Ulmer (2005) Risk incarcerations law is hard to risk, more economic arbitrary ability to evade awareness of 361) Risk Management compromise (p. 32) techniques/ turnover of techniques/ techniques/ techniques/ techniques/ techni ques/ Cost Management hundreds of Morals/ Values stealing in dishonest
130 Table 4 (Continued). Key Descriptors. Sutherland (1937) Klockars (1974) Steffensmeier (1986) Adler (1993) Chambliss (2004) Steffensmeier & Ulmer (2005) Criminal Careers planning, & personal 27) pattern of shifts adjustment to decision to go lack of prestige & and Criminal Subculture within of ethics, but common underworld ige structure/social underworld criminal
131 that one would & Ulmer, 2005) lifestyle or well being in general. This process of identifying key descriptors in the sample served two main purposes: 1) it maintained the language used in the original books of the sample (thus preserving their original meanings and contexts), and 2) it facilitated the transition to the next step of the analytic process (i.e., the development of common metaphors for the sample) which is examined in the next section. Creation of Metaphors The creation of metaphors in the form of idiomatic translation s of text (i.e. the metaphors are not literal translations of text, but rather are translations of the meanings of the text) is the culmination of the previous steps in the analytic process. This stage of analysis illustrates the importance of using an it erative process to identify concepts, recognize similarities/differences, document patterns and themes, as well as identify key descriptors in each of the books included in the sample. By utilizing this iterative process to create common metaphors for the sample (which preserve the original salient meanings and contexts of the original studies), the phenomenon being studied in the sample may be understood in a broader context and allow one to (p. 942) through the representation of the collective concepts and themes within the sample that are presented in a new interpretive and holistic context ( Kirk & Miller, 1986; Noblit & Hare,
132 1988; McCormick et al., 2008 ). The eleven metaphors created for the line of argument synthesis utilized w ithin the current study are examined below. Larceny Sense. Larceny sense and sensitive to circumstances and (Steffensmeier, 1986 190 ). subculture, the business community, and the society at l (Steffensmeier, 1986, p. 187). (Sutherland, 1937, pp. 197 198) The common attributes and (highly specialized) skil ls possessed by professional criminals, which increase levels of success when compared to other kinds of offenders, are only utilized to their full potential when one (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005 p. 330 ). The o ffenders in all six books in the sample identified the importance of running professional crime as a legitimate business, and implementing business oriented techniques and strategies ( e.g., utilizing knowledge of market conditions, negotiation tactics, buy ing and selling strategies) to increase the likelihood of success.
133 Respect. p. 155). These expecta a certain sophistication and elegance possession of good ethics and reputations are also important components to being respected, as well as t relished the spread of their reputations prestige, the overwhelming connotation of respect as it pertains to the offenders studied wit attributes, success, and status as a professional criminal. Networks. This metaphor recognizes the importance of maintaining networks professionals (Steffensmei artnership bonds, connectional liaisons, friendship networks circle of acquaintances which are often based on reputation (Adler, 2005, pp. 63 64). Prestige Hierarchy. to the stratification of offenders distinctions between different classes
134 based on their specific classes is consistently based on skills, pride, respect/status, ethics, and success. Subculture. congeniality, sympathy, understandings, agreements, rules, codes of behavior, and society with common attitudes, activities, and codes that attest to the professional courtesy and loyalty inherent to the subculture (Sutherland, 1937). In addition, professional criminals have a common love (money) and a common enemy (the law) (Sutherland, 1937). Profess ional criminals are clannish in nature, and often congregate outside of their business activities to discuss capers and techniques (in their own language) in a fraternity setting (Chambliss, 2004). Money. Stated simply, money is consistently the highes t priority of the offenders enjoyed by the professional criminals in this sample were overwhelmingly positive. The professional criminals
135 lothes, cars and homes were a constant reminder of their lucrative criminal enterprise. Adventurous Deviance. uncertainty, the anxiety, the risks involved are an intrinsic source of pleasure. When kept (Steffensmeier, 1986, p. 22 5). Adventurous deviance as a metaphor represents the non monetary benefits of offending with respect to the thrill of the act, where offenders were (Steffensmeier & and action of making money eed [ed] a little kick caught, t he possibility of a really big deal, were all sources of stress and tension, but also thrill seeking associated with their close scrapes [and] their ever dler, 1993, p. 85). Competitive Play. Ulmer, 2005, p. 349). Competitive play may appear in financial transactions, evading the ((Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 349). Competitive play serves as an intrinsic source of pleasure for the professional criminals in the sample, as their ability to outwit their
136 competitors provides them not only with a sense of enjoyment, but aids in their development of status and earning of respect. Loopholes of Morality. The professional criminals in each book offered several rationali zations or justifications of their criminal behavior which exhibited a common moral stance among the sample. These offenders offered three basic rationalizations of wh being studied (Klockars, 1974, p. 147; Steffensmeier, 1986, p. 251). An offender w ho is activity altogether (Steffensmeier, 1986). However, the professional cri minals in this sample were generally content with their lives, had positive self images, and were unashamed of their activities. These offenders saw what they did as justified and their lifestyles easy to competition, material success, individual action, freedom, hard work, acquisitiveness, and 1986, p. 251). Commitment rewards, positive emotions and attitudes, preferences, and valued identities his criminal acti vities themselves
137 associations with and mutually positive attitudes toward others in the underworld lifestyle (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005). A dmiration of money, prestige and power, in conjunction with a love of criminal underworld activities become embedded in a concept and criminal identity (which are often inseparable) (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005). The importanc ne cannot understand the continuity and longevity of criminal career without understanding the degree to which [one is] personally invested in the soci al world of criminal enterprise, and [finds] it personally rewarding Career Oscillations. in (most) criminal careers as offenders adjust to shifts in tas tes, abilities, and (Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 302). While professional criminals are distinct from other types of situational or opportunistic criminals in that they view crime as a career and engage in criminal activity on a regular basis as their primary occupation, pathways and trajectories Ulmer, 2005, p. 310). An important insight within this metaphor is that desistance is not a dichotomous concept, in that w ithin th ese career oscillations, possibilities for specialization and/or moonlighting (background operating) phases are always present as long as the offender maintains the skills and connections needed to engage in criminal activity. As a result of these opport he
138 danger of returning to the old life always is there Chambliss, 2004, p. 122). The metaphors depicted above were created as a result of the iterative analytic process as des cribed in this chapter. Before moving on to the next step of the analytic process (the synthesis of these metaphors), it is important to make reference to certain criteria which attest to the adequacy of these metaphors. These criteria are examined below Adequacy of Metaphors Noblit & Hare (1988) draw from Brown (1977), Martin (1975) and House (1979) to identify the criteria for suggest that the metaphors are adequate when they meet the follo wing five criteria: economy ( i.e., 34)); cogency ( i.e., the metaphors are non ambiguous, non contradictory, and non redundant); range ( i.e., ability to integrate a wide range of data relative to a similar phenomena); apparency ( i.e., successfully demonstrating the meaning of the data); and credibility ( i.e., the metaphors are understood by the audience) (Noblit & Hare, 1988) These criteria ha ve been carefully considered in the creation of metaphors within the current study, and the adequacy of these metaphors may be measured by the degree of success of the synthesis. The line of argument synthesis is the final analytic process within the curr ent study and is examined in the next section.
139 Line of Argument Synthesis Following the translat ion of metaphors into one another, a line of argument synthesis is the culmination of all the analytic steps that have been taken throughout the research pro cess and 1988, p. 74 ). Through the utilization of grounded theory methods and thick description, the author of the synthesis can preserve the perspectives of the offenders in the samp le, as well as the interpretations of the original authors, while presenting concepts and metaphors in a new interpretive and holistic context (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955; Kirk & Miller, 1986 ; Noblit & Hare, 1988 ). This is achieved through the constant interp lay between data and theory throughout the research process, culminating in a line of argument synthesis (Strauss & Corbin, 1994). The synthesis reveals hidden meanings from within the individual studies and provides new ways of looking at the metaphors ( i.e., placing them in a new interpretive and holistic context) to provide a better understanding of the sample as a whole (Noblit & Hare, 1988). The line of argument (See Figure 2 below) for the current study reveals several important factors concerning th e lives and decision making processes of professional that may be organized along a cyclical path that is in perpetual motion. In order to be conceptualized in the current study as having business sense and a special set of skills and attributes that increase the likelihood of success when utilized in a rational manner. Once the pr ofessional criminal becomes proficient in the implementation of these skills
140 Figure 2 Line of Argument Synthesis. professional criminals find pride in their work and pleasure in earning the admirat ion of of offending classes. Professional criminals must maintain the sk ills, techniques, and LARCENY SENSE RESPECT NETWORKS SUBCULTURE PRESTIGE HIERARCHY Professional Criminal Adventurous Deviance Competitive Play Commitment Money Loopholes of Morality Career Oscillations
141 attributes that led them to a life of professional crime in the first place in order to remain prestige hierarchy also affords one the benefit of congregating with other elite classes of a clannish underworld where language, criminal codes/rules of ethics, and understandings are shared among professional cri minals. The subculture of professional criminals also composed of friends, acquaintances, and partners. These networks offer opportunities to learn, refine techniques, o r engage in specific criminal activities, thereby leading back to of this cycle are not dependent on one another in a strictly causal manner, they do represent the fl dissipate (e.g., violation of a code of ethics leading to a loss of respect, the loss of skills due to age), the cycle may be broken, leading to the disappearance of networks, an d the ultimate outcast from the top of the prestige hierarchy or the disappearance from the professional criminal subculture altogether. At the center of this cycle, the professional criminal has three main motivations: objective and most important component of criminal offending among this sample of professional criminals: the acquisition of material wealth. Other important motivations and benefits for the professional c
142 ability to match wits with others). It is important to recognize that these professional criminals do not creat e arbitrary risks, and their inclination towards adventure and thrill seeking activities is not impulsive by nature. Rather, these offenders are not afraid of taking risks, and enjoy the excitement afforded to them through this kind of high tension activi ty. Professional criminals also engage in several mental processes which serve as professional criminals, in which they justify their actions by maintaining a positive self image, focusing on the corruption of the average citizen, and denying responsibility/injury to others. If these offenders felt shameful of their actions and could not rationalize their guilt, they would be unable to remain personally committed to their c acquired through their criminal activity, including their appreciation of money, prestige and power and their colleagueship with fellow professional criminals. While pr ofessional criminals are committed to their way of life for the majority of their career, certain factors (e.g., specialization, background operation, desistance). These trajectories are not cut and dried, and oscillations within the criminal career are subject to flow as offenders adjust to shifts in tastes, abilities, and and deal with potential losses (e.g., financial, acqui red knowledge, identity, reputation, power, fun/excitement) and problems (e.g., fatigue, respectability, depression) that may result
143 from a downward shift in their criminal activity and/or lifestyle ( Steffensmeier, 1986; Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 302 ). One of the most important insights gained through this line of argument synthesis p rovide sense of commitment to crime over an extended period of time (which in turn may dictate specific decision making processes depending where they are along this path), these factors are also highly dependent on one other. As seen earlier in the secti on, within the cycle of sub cultural and hierarchical factors based on skills/attributes and status/respect, many of the concepts included in the line of argument co exist in a delicate balance of criminal offending. For example, a good reputation among p rofessional criminals may lead to the development of certain contacts that provide an offender with particular criminal opportunities. These opportunities may require a specific set of skills that a professional criminal develops over time, and in conjunc tion with continued interaction with these particular networks, may result in specialization (Sutherland & Ulmer, 2005). This path, as well as all career trajectories among professional criminals, is different for each offender and relies on the interplay between the factors in the line of argument synthesis. The final chapter offers concluding remarks with respect to the original objectives of the study. This chapter also addresses issues of reliability and validity, identifies the limitations of the cu rrent study, and explores the possibility for future research with respect to the RCP and the application of meta syntheses to the field of criminology.
144 Chapter Five Discussion & Conclusion P by assessing the explanatory power of this theoretical framework with respect to professional criminals (Cullen et al., 2006). This study has implemented a qualitative meta synthesis (utilizing grounded theory methods and thick description) in order to s ystematically identify, extract and integrate concepts from within a sample of books containing qualitative accounts of the lives and decision making processes of professional criminals, and examine them within an RCP framework. Through the utilization of a qualitative meta synthesis (with the goal of providing a greater wealth of knowledge and a more extensive understanding of both the theory and the phenomena being studied) among a sample of professional criminals (offenders who exhibit many tenets of th e RCP and would immense explanatory power with respect to professional criminals, and has been able to conceptually refine and develop the RCP as a theoretical framework (Bonda s & Hall, 2007). Explanatory Power of the RCP demonstrated throughout the entire analytic process. From a methodological standpoint,
145 the ability of the concepts found in the data to s ynthesize well with the theoretically derived concepts of the RCP is a testament to the applicability of RCP factors to professional criminal decision making processes. The creation and subsequent synthesis of metaphors, albeit a long and arduous process, was a relatively smooth one from a conceptual standpoint. From a theoretical standpoint, the line of argument synthesis taking into account motivations and other fact making processes. The synthesis demonstrated that 28 concepts derived from the RCP literature and the data (as guided by the RCP framework) could be collapsed into 11 metaphors that could be synthesized in a way that maintain ed the meanings of these original concepts while presenting them in simplified and holistic manner with respect to the sample of professional criminals. The RCP decision making processes may be seen in how this class of offenders embraced concepts of rationality through every facet of their criminal activity rational decision making processes were constantly utilized to create and implement progressive risk manag ement strategies that were also representative of ingenuity, planning and dedication. within the RCP business, is aware committed to criminal activity over the life course. While money, excitement and competition were primary motivations and benefits of criminal offending, the
146 professional criminal fo und additional rewards inherent in status, respect, colleagueship) that encouraged one to stay committed to crime without the need to focus on the negative aspects of this way of life. The most important insight gained from the synthesis was that the relationships of these rational choice factors (e.g., rationality, motivation/ perceived benefits, criminal commitment career, and involvement in the subculture) considerably impacted one making processes and how one viewed their criminal activity and lifestyle. Concepts of expected utility were not included as specific components of the line of argument synthesis because neither the perceived risks n or the perceived probabili ty, intensity or salience of costs had a considerable effect on the criminal decision making processes of the professional criminals in the sample. This class of offenders enjoyed ttributes, and planning/risk management strategies, that the potential risks and costs of a criminal act were only considered in a subconscious effort not to get caught. These offenders actually found pleasure in the stressful activity and intense way of offered, and considerations of the potential negative consequences of criminal offending sights have important policy increase the certainty or severity of punishment in the eyes of the offender. This study that criminal justice policies that aim to use formal sanctions in an attempt to instill fear in the minds of career criminals have not
147 had success in decreasing levels of criminal motivation or altering their decision making process. While these tactics may receive empirical support with respect to other types of offenders, they are ineffective with respect to professional criminals. The efficacy of the operational enhancements to the RCP is examined below. Efficacy of Operational Enhancements to the RCP Another important objective within the current study was the assessment of the operational enhancements of several disciplines that are included in the contemporary RCP framework. The line of argument synthesis has demonstrated that factors such as statu s (e.g., as a measure of class/respect, as a reward in itself in the form of pride) and excitement (e.g., as an intrinsic source of pleasure gained from high intensity criminal activity) have considerable effect on the lives and decision making processes o f professional criminals, while certain emotional elements (e.g., shame/embarrassment, anxiety, guilt) did not have such an effect. This may also be a result of the high levels of skill, rationality, and success enjoyed by professional criminals, which ma y render these negative emotions negligible when looking at the big picture. While morals and values do not affect how a professional criminal views crime in general (i.e., as a deterrent factor), it often acts as a prism through which certain criminal ac ts, lifestyles and classes (i.e., types of offenders) are viewed and/or rationalized, and is a necessary part of the In addition to offering a greater wealth of knowledge with respect to the RCP as a theoretical framework (e.g. assessing its explanatory power, examining the utility of operational enhancements, providing conceptual clarity), the line of argument synthesis
148 also provides a deeper understanding of the sample as a whole based on the individual studies in the sample. Based on the insights into the lives and decision making processes of professional criminals gained from the meta synthesis process, a more thoro ugh conceptualization of professional criminals may be developed. This conceptualization, which has been derived from the synthesis of data from each of the six books included in the final line of argument (Sutherland, 1937; Klockars, 1974; Steffensmeier, 1986; Adler, 1993; Chambliss, 2004; Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005), is presented below. Conceptualization of Professional Criminals Professional c riminals live in a (p. 16) in which they are largely disconnected from legitimate society and therefore must create their own relationships (Sutherland, 1937) These associations form the basis of a subculture comprised of shared understandings of criminal behavior, codes of ethics, common language, and a collective rebellion against the law. Once these bonds are created, they are extremely difficult to break from the outside In order for a professional criminal to become successful, however, one cannot be completely separated from legitimate society. The professional thief, for example, must have contact with legitimate society members One of t he most important conceptualization s of the professional criminal is that one v iews crime as a business. Whenever one is working, one must devote all available time and effort to the careful planning and execution of every criminal act. Crime commission requires just as much hard work as any legitimate business A successful prof essional fence for example must have a comprehensive knowledge of the theft and
149 business worlds, and maintain working relationships with both l egitimate and illegitimate members of society. A professional box man (safe cracker) also must view stealing as a legitimate business requiring similar attributes ( e.g., planning, readiness, reliability) i n order to increase the likelihood of success In order for one to employ a successful business attitude of crime, one must first possess the skills necessary to be successful, such as discipline, patience skills (p. 349), and then also possess the will to work hard to successfully implement these skills ( Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005). The professional criminal must stay up to date on new laws, me and criminal strategies. The professional criminal does not rely on physical or manual and p. 198 ). The professional criminal must also be detected in the first place. to acquire money and to do it as safely as possible. In order to accomplish this, professional criminals must seek out and identify criminal opportunities which pose the least amount of risk ( i.e., avoid ing crimes that possess high levels of danger or public ity), carefully plan and execute the criminal act while taking into account potential situational factors (e.g., how to obtain and dispose of property, how to fix a case (i.e., use connections with law officials to escape punishment in w hich an arrest is u navoidable). Professional criminals have solid connections with
150 law officials on several fronts (e.g., police officers, lawyers, court officials), so that if caught one would be able to handle the situation without much fear of legal recourse The confi prison. In the rare occasion that one is actually caught and sent to prison, the professional criminal views incarceration as an opportunity to learn new techniques and fine tune cr iminal methods in order to avo id any further punishment. In this way, the prison experience leads the professional criminal to believe that success is attainable as long as one works harder to plan and execute their criminal acts. The professional crimina l, unlike the street level criminal who does not usually rely on long term planning and often cannot defer the need for immediate gratification, prepares for the criminal act in a strict and comprehensive manner. For example, the professional thief can sp end anywhere between two and six months monitoring potential victims and learning everything possible about them in order to be properly prepared to take advantage of them. In this way, professional criminals understand the importance of planning, ingenui ty, and delaying gratification in order to achieve a much bigger pay off in the long run. Professional criminals are persistent offenders due to their ability to apply their specialized skills and attributes to their criminal endeavors (i.e., ability to e vade the law and avoid negative consequences of their criminal acts) and are successful offenders due to their highly rational approach to their criminal activity. Professional Crime in a Historical Context The line of argument synthesis used in the curre nt study is also able to place insights into the lives of professional criminals in a historical context due to its inclusion
151 of books written in a wide range of time periods (1937 2005), as well as the inclusion of two books which present case studies on the same offender 19 years apart ( i.e., the study The Fence (1986) and i n Confessions of a Dying Thief (2005) ). Several insights have been gained from the sample with respect to the criminal subculture across this time and do not exhibit the same kind of loyalty to one another anymore; there is still a criminals have declined over the years; there are new languages being used within the subculture; there is less of a criminal code and lot more risks due to the impact of drugs and the federal government on professional crime; and there has been an evolution of the structure and social organization of criminal offending as a response to changes in price, supply and demand, and law enforcement (Adler, 1993; Chambliss, 2004, p. 69; Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005, p. 218). The ability of the meta synthesis to offer such insights in the current study is due to the careful implementation of each of the analytic steps involved in a qualitative research process. The meta synthesis process (as it applies to a four pha se model of qualitative research) is examined below. Meta synthesis Process corresponding to a Four Phase Model of Qualitative Research Figure 3 below illustrates the meta synthesis process employed in the current study as it applies to a four phase model of qualitative research (see Kirk & Miller, 1986). In each phase of the process (invention; discovery; interpretation; explanation), the corresponding methods and processes utilized in a meta
152 Purpose : R econceptualization to contribute to human discourse* explanatory power Conceptual clarity within RCP Global Review Process (constant comparative analysis) Process : constructing interpretations* Identification of c onceptual linkages Product : I nterpretations across case studies* New interpretive/ holistic context Data Sources : findings and interpretations of existing case studies* 6 books containing qualitative material regarding the lives of professional criminals Creation of analogies/metaphors (new interpretive order) Synthesis of metaphors Present ation of LOAS in audience appropriate language Data Collection : purposive sampling* Appraisal Process (Boundary conditions for case requirements & units of analysis) *Doyle (2003), p. 324 Figure 3 Meta synthesis Process Corresponding to a Four Phase Model of Qualitative Research.
153 general explanation of the steps used in the meta synthesis process and the specific implementation of these steps within the current s tudy) are identified. In a research study utilizing grounded theory methods ( i.e., a highly iterative research process), it is helpful to have a structured framework to help organize the methods and processes employed in the study while remaining focused on the purpose and objectives of the study (Kirk & Miller, 1986). While the methodological techniques and analytic processes have been carefully documented in Chapters 3 and 4 (as illustrated in Figure 3) it is important to recognize the reliability and validity issues inherent in the research study. These issues are examined in the next section. Reliability and Validity The primary goal of the appraisal process used in the current study was to increase the reliability and validity of the meta synthesis. In order to accomplish this, books were only included in the final sample if their research processes were deemed valid : consideration of the components of the research situation (place, time, informant) and the research problem and tools. At issue is the validity of observations ( i.e., w hether or not the researcher is calling what is measured by the right name) (p. 69) a nd reliable: whether or not (or under what conditions) the ethnographer would expect to obtain the same finding if he or she tried again i n the same way. (Kirk & Miller, 1986, p. 69).
154 The reliability and validity of the books included in the final sampl e were determined based on a review of the sampling methods and analytic measures used within each book. In order to carefully scrutinize the methodologies of each book, it was necessary for the researchers of each study to document the research procedure s that were used and explain how the data collection and analysis processes were employed within each phase of the study (Kirk & Miller, 1986). Through the structured documentation of the decision making processes for data collection and analysis within e ach phase of the ethnographic process (invention ; discovery; interpretation ; and explanation), the researcher increases the reliability of the research process (Kirk & Miller, 1986). The need for this kind of exhaustive documentation is supported by Linco (1985) notion of consistency as a measure of reliability. Lincoln and Guba (1985 ) also suggest that transferability, or postulating how qualitative research findings may apply to other studies, may be used as a form of external validity (Lin coln & Guba, 1985). Only books which satisfied these conditions of reliability and validity were included in the final synthesis. Within a qualitative research endeavor such as this, the most important measure of validity (with respect to the quality of the meta synthesis as a whole) is assessing how well the data being collected and analyzed relates to the theoretical framework being utilized in the synthesis process (i.e., construct validity) (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955; Kirk & Miller, 1986). By using grou nded theory methods, in which the interaction between the data and guiding theoretical framework is constantly being examined throughout the research process, the presence of this relationship may be observed in every phase of the
155 qualitative research proc ess. Although some of these studies did make occasional references to each other ( e.g., Steffensmei e thievery) the fact that the findings from these six separate books containing qualitative material regarding the lives of professional criminals were able to be synthesized demonstrates that construct validity has been achieved in the current study, in tha t the concepts and metaphors used in the synthesis both fit and work within an RCP framework (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Campbell et al., 2003) Assessing the reliability of the meta synthesis may be viewed in a similar manner, in that data observations are n ot required to be identical across each title to achieve reliability, but rather must demonstrate that the meaning and context of these observations are relevant to the guiding theoretical framework (Kirk & Miller, 1986). The goal of achieving theoretical reliability reiterates the importance of using an appraisal process (which eliminates studies which are inappropriate or of poor quality while facilitating the process of identifying conceptual categories which fit and work) to determine which studies whi ch will synthesize well within an RCP framework (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Campbell et al., 2003) In addition, the quality of the line of argument synthesis may be assessed across four measures: 1) it is emic (i.e., the meta synthesis preserves the original contexts of the studies included in the synthesis); 2) it is historical (i.e., time is used to give order and
156 context to the studies); 3) it is comparative (e.g., it explores the relationships between the studies); and 4) it is holistic (i.e., a final int erpretation of the studies is offered which takes into account these relationships and contexts) (Noblit & Hare, 1988). The current study has attempted to remain faithful to these measures by offering interpretations which take into account the voices of the offenders and the perspectives of the original authors (emic); by exploring the evolution of concepts ( e.g., theoretical; concepts derived from the data) over a time period of 67 years (with all but one of the books ranging over a time period of 31 yea rs), as well including a book in the sample which updates a previous ethnographic account of a particular offender which is also included in the sample ( i.e., The Fence (1986) and the revisiting Confessions of a Dying Thief (2005 ) (historical); though the in depth examination of the similarities and differences between the titles used in the synthesis and offering interpretations o f these relationships (comparative); and by using common metaphors to place the shared concepts found in the sample (as determined by the constant comparative method) into a new interpretive context to make general statements about the sample as a whole (h olistic) (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Noblit & Hare, 1988). While the measures described in Chapters 3 and 4 have been taken in order to contribute to the overall quality of the line of argument synthesis, the limitations of the current study are important c onsiderations to be discussed and are examined in the following section.
157 Limitations While the current study has attempted to use a contemporary theoretical framework ( i.e., an RCP framework which has incorporated the concepts and findings from several disciplines into the study of the offender decision making process) and contemporary methodological and analytic processes ( i.e., applying a qualitative meta synthesis to the study of criminological phenomena ), it is important to note the limitations of the current study which may lead to opportunities for future research in this area. This study has been focused on specific RCP concepts, and therefore several theoretical concepts and other concepts derived from the data were not included as part of the synthesis process: social learning theory and differential association (e.g., Sutherland, 1936); gender and race (e.g., Steffensmeier & Ulmer, 2005); social class (e.g., Tunnell, 2006 ); and drug use ( e.g., Cromwell & Olson, 2004). While these concepts wer e not included in the meta synthesis because they were beyond the scope of the current study ( i.e., they did not address the objectives of the current study and would have detracted from the focus on the utility of the meta synthesis), their presence in th e sample demonstrate that they are still important concepts to consider in the study of the relationship between the RCP and professional crime. Other possible limitations within the current study pertain to the difficulties in locating qualitative lite rature ( e.g., difficulties in identifying appropriate books to include in the synthesis through searches or references of books that have been obtained ) and the absence of using a computer program to aid in the coding and analytic processes, thereby increa sing the chances of human error in the complex analytic processes employed in the
158 current study (Campbell et al., 2003). In addition, Lincoln & Guba (1985) and Doyle (2003) suggest the use of member checks (i.e., contacting the original authors of the boo ks in the sample) to contribute to the internal validity of the meta synthesis; the grounded theory methods to assess the consistency of data across the sample and relative to the RCP framework, and does not benefit from this added measure of validity. There is also no mention of inter coder reliability in the current study because only one coder was used to implement each of the steps throughout the analytic proces s; it is recommended that if a greater wealth of data is used in future studies implementing a methodological approach similar to the one used in the current study, that multiple coders be utilized to aid in the analytic process. While using two books that study the same offender ( i.e., Sam Goodman in The Fence (1986) a nd Confessions of a Dying Thief (2005) ) may help provide historical context in the meta synthesis, the perspective of the offender (Sam Goodman) and a uthor (Steffensmeier) used in these books may have had a larger influence on the creation of metaphors and the synthesis process than the other books in a study (due to the small sample size used in a qualitative meta synthesis). However, the inclusion of these two books does not jeopardize the reliability or validity The Fence (1986)) Steffensmeier & Confessions of a Dying Thief (2005) possesses unique and fruitful data that offers new insight s into the concepts derived from the other books in the sample as well as the guiding theoretical framework The inclusion of Confessions of a Dying Thief
159 (2005) a lso presents a new voice with interpretations of Sam determined by the boundary conditions for units of analysis within the current study would serve as a suitable offender group to study in a research endeavor implementing a qualitative meta synthesis within an RCP framework. The identification of similarities and differences in the decision making processes between persistent offenders and the professional criminals utilized in the current st udy (e.g. levels of rationality, perceptions of costs, benefits, and risks) would allow for: 1) the assessment of the explanatory power of the RCP with respect to a group of offenders who are persistent but not professional; and 2) further conceptual clarity within the RCP framework through the assessment of the varying degrees of explanatory power within the RCP with respect to the lives and decision making processes of each specific offender group (i.e., exploring the efficacy of RCP concepts in a comparative cont ext relative to these two offender groups) By implementing a qualitative meta synthesis that can make these kinds of comparative and interpretive statements, the efficacy of the RCP as a theoretical framework can be more sufficiently assessed with respec t to the explanation of criminal offending in general. Conclusions Through the careful implementation of grounded theory methods and the utilization of thick description in a highly iterative research process that culminated in a line of argument synthesi s, this study has offered a greater understanding of the lives and decision making processes of professional criminals as seen within a contemporary RCP
160 framework. The explanatory power of the RCP has been successfully demonstrated with respect to profess ional criminals, and conceptual refinements have been offered in a way that may aid in the development of the theoretical framework. The line of argument synthesis offered within the current study may be used to aid future studies that attempt to model th e detailed decision making processes of this class of offenders. This study also recommends the incorporation of persistent offenders into a study of professional criminals within an RCP framework, which may offer new insights and comparative interpretati ons that may result in further conceptual clarity within the theoretical framework and increase the explanatory power of the RCP in general. This study has also demonstrated the utility of applying a qualitative meta synthesis to criminological phenomena, and the author encourages the continued use of this methodological technique in the field of criminology, with the recognition that other offender groups and theoretical frameworks may be used as long as the study embraces qualitative methodological techn iques and aims to offer explanations that are interpretive in nature.
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170 Appendix A : Books Included in the Final Line of Argument Syn thesis Adler, P. (1993). Wheeling and Dealing: An Ethnography of An Upper Level Drug Dealing and Smuggling Community New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Chambliss, W. (2004). iUniverse Publishing, Incorp orated. Klockars, C. (1974). The Professional Fence Glencoe, IL: The Free Press. Steffensmeier, D. (1986) The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, Publishing, Incorporated. Ste ffensmeier, D., Ulmer, J. (2005 ). Confessions of A Dying Thief: Understanding Criminal Careers and Illegal Enterprise Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishing. Sutherland, E. (1937). The Professional Thief Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
171 Appendix B: Operationalization Counts Sutherland (1937) Klockars (1974) Steffensmeier (1986) Adler (1993) Chambliss (2004) Steffensmeier & Ulmer (2005) Average Counts Sh ame /Em barrassment 3 4 6 4 1 0 3 Anxiety 2 0 3 3 1 0 1.5 G uilt 0 2 3 0 1 3 1.5 M oney 17 19 22 25 5 29 19.5 Pr operty 2 2 3 3 4 3 2.83 E xcitement/Enjoyment 3 0 17 17 6 25 11.33 O ffender S tatus 29 8 15 20 6 34 18.67 O pportunity 6 16 13 1 4 40 13.33 S ituational O pportunity 1 1 2 0 3 4 1.83 O pportunity from T ips 1 3 1 0 2 4 2 P erceived R isk 64 37 46 43 7 65 43.67 R ational Techniques 36 55 37 75 24 61 48 T arget S election 7 11 3 0 10 13 7.33 L aw C onnections 46 5 14 4 18 3 15 C ost M anagement 40 7 2 6 5 10 11.67 A nger 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.17 F ear 2 0 4 1 4 5 2.67 M orals /V alues 5 5 3 2 2 8 4.17 R ationalizations 5 10 4 3 2 5 4.83 N ecessity 5 1 2 3 8 6 4.17 S ituational Factors 11 0 0 3 11 22 7.83 C riminal C odes /R ules of E thics 28 5 1 2 3 14 8.83 C riminal S ubculture 68 6 13 45 17 85 39 C rime as a W ay of L ife 16 10 10 75 9 115 39.17 C rime as B usiness 14 64 26 83 6 31 37.33 C areer O pportunities /T rajectories/Transitions 13 3 6 13 2 103 23.33 Desistance 11 0 4 7 22 14 9.67 Inc arceration 14 16 12 5 20 21 14.67 P erceived P robability of B enefits 10 7 8 13 2 13 8.83 P erceived I ntensity of B enefits 9 12 20 29 12 41 20.5 P erceived S alience of B enefits 5 2 20 26 7 33 15.5 P erceived P robability of Costs 40 40 20 30 10 43 30.5 Perceived Intensity of Costs 35 16 16 15 17 36 22.5 Perceived Salience of Costs 17 10 12 10 8 25 13.67
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Wholl, Douglas J.
A rational choice approach to professional crime using a meta-synthesis of the qualitative literature
h [electronic resource] /
by Douglas J. Wholl.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
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ABSTRACT: Since the early 18th century, rational choice models have been applied extensively to criminological research, theory, and policy in an effort to understand crime and criminality. Over the past few decades, the rational choice perspective has attempted to integrate theoretical concepts, operational measures, and research findings from contemporary studies within the psychology, sociology and criminology disciplines, which have attempted to re-operationalize what was already conceptualized in the expected utility model (i.e., individuals choose to engage in criminal activity if the expected utility of crime exceeds that of all other behavioral options) by incorporating additional factors (e.g., a broader range of potential rewards, moral inhibition, emotional elements) into the measurement process. However, despite an effort to expand the expected utility function in the rational choice perspective, rational choice studies have most often been applied to street offenders. Using a sample of six books containing the lives and experiences of professional criminals, this study utilizes a qualitative meta-synthesis (in which grounded theory methods and thick description are employed for the identification and integration of key concepts from within the sample) to examine the effectiveness of the rational choice perspective in the explanation of professional crime, and assess the efficacy of these operational enhancements while providing conceptual clarity within the rational choice perspective.
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t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.