My Theory 


Space Transition© Theory of Cyber Crimes

The copyright of this chapter is with Prentice Hall. Third parties can mail me for permission to republish.


Preferred Citation

Jaishankar K., (2008). Space Transition Theory of Cyber Crimes. In Schmallager, F., & Pittaro, M. (Eds.), Crimes of the Internet (pp.283-301). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.



 Cyberspace presents an exciting new frontier for criminologists. Virtual reality and computer mediated communications challenge the traditional discourse of criminology, introducing new forms of deviance, crime, and social control. Since the 1990s, academics have observed how the cyberspace has emerged as a new locus of criminal activity, but in general, criminology has been remiss in its research into the phenomena of cyber crime and has been slow to recognize the importance of cyberspace in changing the nature and scope of offending and victimization. As such, very few theoretical explanations of cyber crime exist. 

       Some researchers have tried to explain cyber crimes with traditional theories, such as Social Learning Theory (Skinner and Fream 1997; Rogers 1999; 2001), Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory and Differential Reinforcement Theory (Rogers 2001), Cohen’s Strain Theory (O'Connor 2003), Deindividuation Theory (Demetriou and Silke 2003), Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime (Foster 2004), Routine Activities Theory (Adamski 1998; McKenzie 2000; Grabosky 2001; Pease 2001; Yar 2005) and multiple theories (McQuade 2005; Taylor 2005; Darin et. al 2006). However, these theoretical explanations were found to be inadequate as an overall explanation for the phenomenon of cyber crimes, because cyber crimes are different from crimes of physical space.

      There is a need for a theory for cyber crimes. Therefore, this paper is directed at theory building for the explanation of criminal behaviour in the cyberspace, and presents the Space Transition Theory. "Space Transition Theory” is an explanation about the nature of the behaviour of the persons who bring out their conforming and non-conforming behaviour in the physical space and cyberspace. Space Transition involves the movement of persons from one space to another (e.g., from physical space to cyber space and vice versa). Space Transition Theory argues that, people behave differently when they move from one space to another.


The postulates of the theory are:

1. Persons, with repressed criminal behavior (in the physical space) have a propensity to commit crime in cyberspace, which, otherwise they would not commit in physical space, due to their status and position.

2. Identity Flexibility, Dissociative Anonymity and lack of deterrence factor in the cyberspace provides the offenders the choice to commit cyber crime

3. Criminal behavior of offenders in cyberspace is likely to be imported to Physical space which, in physical space may be exported to cyberspace as well.

4. Intermittent ventures of offenders in to the cyberspace and the dynamic spatio-temporal nature of cyberspace provide the chance to escape.

5. (a) Strangers are likely to unite together in cyberspace to commit crime in the physical space.

  (b) Associates of physical space are likely to unite to commit crime in cyberspace.

6. Persons from closed society are more likely to commit crimes in cyberspace than persons from open society.

7. The conflict of Norms and Values of Physical Space with the Norms and Values of cyberspace may lead to cyber crimes.


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Space Transition© (coined by K. Jaishankar)