By Don Crewe (auth.)
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The cause of the phenomenon. : 225) There is, of course a fatal flaw in this model of elimination. : 226). If we take it that all individual social circumstances are unique – and we may take our authority for this claim from Bergson’s (1965) assertion that no two states of consciousness are ever the same for humans, also, as I pointed out above, all situations are unique in virtue of each possessing all pasts – then it is impossible to satisfy the ‘exactly similar’ requirement for this method to isolate causes with any certainty.
Thus, if we wanted to see whether economic inequality is a cause of crime we would need to change the degree of inequality and then measure the resultant change in crime. If the two elements – inequality and crime – vary together, then, according to this method, one is the cause of the other. This method has been used by criminologists extensively, where it is the foundation for many longitudinal studies. However, it has significant weaknesses in its claims to be able to identify causes. In order for a cause to be identified, all other competing antecedents must be eliminated.
Thus if we were to fail to grasp the effect of a particular intervening variable we may not witness the causal association of other variables. The second method of ascertaining indirect evidence of causation involves stipulating the temporal relationship between a phenomenon and its antecedents. It is frequently claimed by criminologists that certain conditions of childhood are causal factors in the commission of crime. What this points out is that there may be significant temporal or topical separation in the association between the claimed antecedent cause and the actual crime.
Becoming Criminal: The Socio-Cultural Origins of Law, Transgression, and Deviance by Don Crewe (auth.)