The criminal career concept: Past, present, and future

Christopher J. Sullivan, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Since its introduction in the 1970s, the concept of the “criminal career” has had a substantial impact on the field of criminology. This special issue took a comprehensive look at the idea of criminal careers and the research that has emerged from it. In particular, it started with the origins and intellectual history of the 1986 “Criminal Careers and Career Criminals” report and its objectives and then considered the influence of that work on aspects of criminological theory, research methods and design, data analysis, and policy and practice. This concluding paper offers a brief summation of these essays and the scholarship on which they are based. In doing so, this forward-looking review offers a comment on the past, present, and future of research on criminal careers to underscore its contribution to the discipline, mark any areas where opportunities may have been missed, and present an agenda for the next generation of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-442
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • crime
  • criminological theory
  • developmental theories
  • policy
  • research methods

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