The strongest point of all victimization theories is that they allow prediction of certain circumstances in which the crimes are likely to occur. Lifestyle perspective and routine activity theory are the two most progressive approaches existing in this field. Meier and Miethe (1993) define these theories as empirical and anecdotal ones (p. 460), but this viewpoint has been already updated. Despite certain differences in concepts and strategies, these theories provide a clear view on the role of victims in crimes.
The core issue of the routine activity theory is that this approach is based on three major factors, which are the motivated offenders, the suitable victims, and the absence of reliable protection. These three elements should meet in time and space to cause the crime. According to Meier and Miethe (1993), these elements are very important: “the lack of any of these conditions is sufficient to prevent criminal activity” (p. 470). Therefore, there is a need to disrupt the possibility of such coincidences. Also, the theory states that certain routine activities turn people into targets by placing them in the conditions of helplessness. The ways people acquire their basic needs, work, and rest are the routine that makes them predictable. By making an analysis of such habits, the scholars get the possibility to identify the weakest groups of people and to develop the strategies of protection.
Although the lifestyle theory is also based on the idea that the differences in the personal habits matter, the main point of this approach, however, is that there are demographic differences that raise the probability of becoming a victim. Meier and Miethe (1993) believe that the variations in people’s lifestyles are important, as they are related to the situations in which there are high risks of victimization (p. 466). Although the concept of lifestyle is closely related to the idea of certain routine activities, the theory is different from the one described above due to its narrow focus. In such a way, the prejudices associated with one’s gender, race, occupation, income, and even age are believed to be more important than circumstances in which a person appears. If the expectations about one’s behavior can endanger their health and life, then social prejudices must be addressed with renewed vigor.
The diffusion of two victimization theories is beneficial, as it allows to establish a successful and unified strategy. Pratt and Turanovic (2016) believe that the main difference between theories is covered in the way they look at people’s behavior. Lifestyle theory covers the field of possible circumstances and one’s chances of being victimized, whereas routine activity theory is focused on the certain events themselves, regarding the existence of three key factors mentioned above (Pratt & Turanovic, 2016). Still, the absence of guardship remains the crucial issue for both theories, which makes them valuable and justified. Obviously, this area of social life must be improved. Also, it becomes clear that social inequality plays a crucial role in crimes. While promoting gender and racial equality, people can decrease the differences in victimization risks. The general crime rate will become lower, as a result.
The lifestyle and the routine activity theories have many similarities. In different ways, these theories show that the patterns of people’s lifestyles can provide an opportunity structure for various crimes. The differences in terminology and chosen strategies do not allow combining the lifestyle and the routine activity theories into one. Still, the diffusion on certain levels is possible and can be generally effective.
- Meier, R.F., & Miethe, T.D. (1993). Understanding theories of criminal victimization. Crime and Justice, 17, 459-499.
- Pratt, T.C., & Turanovic, J.J. (2016). Lifestyle and routine activity theories revisited: The importance of “risk” to the study of victimization. Victims & Offenders, 11(3), 335-354. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15564886.2015.1057351