Expressive and Instrumental Offending: Reconciling the Paradox of Specialisation and Versatility

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Although previous research into specialisation has been dominated by the debate over the existence of specialisation versus versatility, it is suggested that research needs to move beyond the restrictions of this dispute. The current study explores the criminal careers of 200 offenders based on their criminal records, obtained from a police database in the North West of England, aiming to understand the patterns and nature of specialisation by determining the presence of differentiation within their general offending behaviours and examining whether the framework of Expressive and Instrumental offending styles can account for any specialised tendencies that emerge. Fifty-eight offences were subjected to Smallest Space Analysis. Results revealed that a model of criminal differentiation could be identified and that any specialisation is represented in terms of Expressive and Instrumental offending styles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-422
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


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