Crime Prevention and Community Safety

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 65–79 | Cite as

The capable guardian in routine activities theory: A theoretical and conceptual reappraisal

  • Meghan E Hollis
  • Marcus Felson
  • Brandon C Welsh
Original Article


Guardianship or the absence of capable guardianship is a central element in routine activities theory, and has been the subject of research for more than 30 years. The original conceptualization of guardianship has been interpreted and expanded upon in many ways during this period of time. This article charts the evolution of research on the guardianship component of routine activities theory and provides a theoretical and conceptual reappraisal of guardianship. Aiding future empirical research is a central aim of this endeavor. A refined definition of guardianship is presented that is consistent with its original conceptualization and new theoretical advancements. Implications for theory and research are discussed.


routine activities theory guardianship defensible space environmental criminology social control 



We are grateful to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meghan E Hollis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marcus Felson
    • 3
  • Brandon C Welsh
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law EnforcementAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Texas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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