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Lonnie Athens

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Citizenship  US
Fields  Criminology
Role  Criminologist
Name  Lonnie Athens

Lonnie Athens wwwshueduimagesAthens200jpg
Alma mater  University of California at Berkeley, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Virginia Tech
Books  The Creation of Dangerous Violent Criminals
Education  University of California, Berkeley, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Virginia Tech

Institutions  Seton Hall University

Lonnie Athens was senior research criminologist at Georgetown University Law Center and now teaches in the criminology department at Seton Hall University. Athens developed a theory called The Process of Violentization.


Early life

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Athens lived with his parents, Irene and Pete Athens. He was educated at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where he started majoring in political science but later changed his major to Sociology and Criminology. After graduating from Virginia Tech, Athens continued his criminology studies at the University of Wisconsin.


After college Athens continued to interview inmates about their criminal lives and social experiences. He based his study on George Herbert Mead, a philosopher who tried understanding how organisms acquire different traits. Athens focused on the areas of Iowa and California for his interviews. He also worked as a probation and parole officer in northern Virginia in 1986. He took all of his findings and his studies and put them together in the book, The Creation of Dangerous Violent Criminals, in which he discusses his theory and the cases he had to look at along the way. Athens now teaches criminology at Seton Hall University.

The Process of Violentization

Athens developed a theory known as "The Process of Violentization" which describes four stages in the development of violent actors.

  • Stage 1 Brutalization: Within this stage, the subject is forced into doing violent acts by a member of their primary group.
  • Stage 2 Belligerency: In this stage, the subject reinforces his warlike attitude to the situation by a method of different steps. They take personal responsibility to the fact that they started the brutalization stage to begin with. In turn, they feel like they must lash out in order to forget about what they did to begin with. The subject feels like the only way for them to make right to the situation is to keep acting out. With this repeating behavior they get emotionally attached to what they are doing. Because of this emotional attachment, the subject feels like anytime they are provoked, they can end the feeling by continuing the violent acts.
  • Stage 3 Violent Performances: The subject continues to act out violently and they feel that they get inner confidence by acting like this and that in turn builds their self-esteem. With their actions being executed, they feel like they get a knack for it and they incorporate it into their daily activity. In this stage they feel most comfortable with what they are doing and do not feel like they are doing anything wrong. The subject feels like they have gained celebrity status to what they are doing, and within this stage is the defining moment of whether or not they will continue to do what they are doing.
  • Stage 4 Virulency: Once the subject has made it to this point, they feel like whether or not their fame is notorious or not, they believe it to be a good thing. This stage is also known as the need to show off. They feel like they can move on to bigger and better things if they wanted to and the subject tries to. They have an overwhelming feeling of being invincible and that nothing can stop them, so they continue these violent acts. After this stage has been completed they are now considered to be a criminal and there is no stopping the subject to what they may do next.
  • Academic distinctions

  • Winner of George Herbert Mead Award for Career Achievements from Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
  • Winner of Scholar of the Year Award for Physical and Social Scientists from Seton Hall University
  • Past President of Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
  • Advisory Editor for Symbolic Interaction (since 2004)
  • Deputy Editor for Studies in Symbolic Interaction (since 2007)
  • Member of Scientific Committee for International Society for Psychology and Law (since 2008)
  • Publications

  • Athens, Lonnie, The Creation of Dangerous Violent Criminals, University of Illinois Press, August 1, 1992, ISBN 0-252-06262-0
  • Athens, Lonnie, Violent Criminal Acts and Actors Revisited, University of Illinois Press, March 1, 1997, ISBN 0-252-06608-1
  • Athens, Lonnie, Ulmer, Jeffery, Violent Acts and Violentization, Volume 4: Assessing, Applying and Developing Lonnie Athens' Theory and Research (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance), JAI Press, December 27, 2002, ISBN 0-7623-0905-9
  • Athens, Lonnie, Violent Criminal Acts and Actors: A Symbolic Interactionist Study (International library of sociology), Routledge Kegan & Paul, June 1980, ISBN 0-7100-0342-0
  • References

    Lonnie Athens Wikipedia

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