Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

Why is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding criminal behavior best?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

An interdisciplinary approach to understanding criminal behavior is best because it involves bringing together different perspectives that can be drawn upon to produce a coherent theory.

In contrast to the interdisciplinary approach, we have the multidisciplinary approach, which involves the accumulation of data from different disciplines in relation to criminal...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

An interdisciplinary approach to understanding criminal behavior is best because it involves bringing together different perspectives that can be drawn upon to produce a coherent theory.

In contrast to the interdisciplinary approach, we have the multidisciplinary approach, which involves the accumulation of data from different disciplines in relation to criminal behavior. The main shortcoming of this approach is that it gives us a lot of information but not a coherent body of theory that represents a synthesis of the various disciplines concerned.

That's where an interdisciplinary approach comes in. It doesn't just gather together all the information concerning criminal behavior derived from multidisciplinary research; it synthesizes it, creating new theories that then form the basis of further research.

A further advantage of an interdisciplinary approach is its recognition that no one perspective can explain criminal behavior. Far from there being one right answer, there are several answers, numerous different perspectives, each one of which can contribute significantly to our knowledge of criminal behavior.

A good example to illustrate this point would be the old nature vs. nurture debate; in other words, are criminals born that way or shaped by their environments? Far from seeking a right answer to this question—whatever that might look like—an interdisciplinary approach would explore the relationship between the two different perspectives, in particular, how they interact with one another to explain the phenomenon of criminal behavior.

In doing so, an interdisciplinary approach to understanding criminal behavior provides suitably complex answers, albeit provisional, to complex questions relating to this most important area of criminology.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on