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Social Entropy Theory as an Explicit Approach to Assessment of Crime and Correlates of Crime in Europe at Macro Societal Level

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice and Security Volume: 8 Issue: 3,4 Dated: December 2006 Pages: 340-349
Date Published
December 2006
10 pages

The primary purpose of this paper is to explore the possibilities of Bailey's Social Entropy Theory (SET) for systematically describing and explaining crime and correlates of crime, supported by qualitative comparative analysis and discriminant analysis of data on homicide rates and crime rates from contemporary European societies.


The results show that a modified SET can be a useful framework for describing, analyzing, predicting, and evaluating the structure and trends of some unwanted phenomena that are connected with the degree of conflict in society. SET allows the evaluation of both the structure and opportunity (or a combination of the two) and other components (e.g., culture) as the conditions that influence the level and distribution of homicide and crime rates in contemporary societies. It also enables differentiation between remote (structural) factors and proximate (subjective) actors, which influence the emergence of quality of life and unwanted phenomena. One of the advantages of SET compared with other theories is that it can be empirically tested. Any theory, however, cannot be refuted or confirmed with a limited number of empirical tests. Additional theoretical and empirical work is required within the framework of SET, as within other theoretical and empirical approaches. Bailey's SET, which he developed in the early 1990s (Bailey, 1990, 1994), is a version of modern systems theory. Modern systems theory attempts to synthesize, upgrade, and operationalize new achievements in open systems theory. It can be used to describe and explain social structures and processes, both normal and deviant. Chosen levels of a society can be described and explained by theoretically defined macrovariables (population, level of quality of life, organization, technology, information, and space) and with six differential equations. Data were collected for these variables in 32 European countries as well as for their homicide rates and crime rates. 7 tables, 9 figures, and 15 references

Date Published: December 1, 2006