Criminological Theories Of Criminal Behavior

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Criminological Theories Of Criminal Behavior

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Criminological Theories with Examples from Movies and TV

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Merton in , strain theory stated that certain societal strains increase the likelihood of crime. The theory held that the emotions of frustration and anger arising from dealing with these strains create pressure to take corrective action, often in the form of crime. For example, people undergoing chronic unemployment may be tempted to commit theft or drug dealing to obtain money. For example, the theory suggested that especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods, young people are trained for their future careers as criminals while participating in subcultures that condone delinquency.

Constantly calling a person a criminal, for instance, can cause them to be treated negatively, thus triggering their criminal behavior. Today, labeling theory is often equated to discriminatory racial profiling in law enforcement. Routine Activities Theory: Developed in , routine activities theory suggested that when motivated criminals encounter inviting unprotected victims or targets, crimes are likely to occur. For example, routinely leaving parked cars unlocked invites theft or vandalism.

Broken Windows Theory: Closely related to the routine activities theory, the broken window theory stated that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder in urban areas create an environment that encourages further, ever more serious crimes. Introduced in as part of the community-oriented policing movement, the theory suggested that stepped-up enforcement of minor crimes such as vandalism, vagrancy, and public intoxication helps prevent more serious crimes in urban neighborhoods. Share Flipboard Email. Humanities The U. Government U. Foreign Policy U. Liberal Politics U. Robert Longley. History and Government Expert.

Robert Longley is a U. Facebook Facebook. Key Takeaways: Criminology Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminals. It involves research to identify the factors that motivate certain persons to commit crimes, the impact of crime on society, the punishment of crime, and the development of ways to prevent it. People involved in criminology are called criminologists and work in law enforcement, government, private research, and academic settings. Since its beginnings in the s, criminology has evolved into an ongoing effort to help law enforcement and the criminal justice system respond to the changing societal factors contributing to criminal behavior. Criminology has helped develop several effective modern crime prevention practices such as community-oriented and predictive policing.

At first glance these questions may seem relatively straightforward, but coming up with accurate answers is a complex task, and determining which of the theories and methodologies is best equipped to help do so is still up for debate. Rational choice theory RCT , which is a prominent theoretical model in many fields of research, can be applied to the study of crime. Many criminologists doubt its applicability as a general theory of crime, though much of this skepticism can be attributed to confusion and over-simplification of the model, and the narrow range of variables and methodologies that are often utilized when testing it in research. Rational choice theory is a core theoretical model in the fields of political science, economics, sociology, and psychology , yet many criminologists continue to doubt its applicability as a general theory of crime.

Some critics claim that RCT, which is a theory that highlights the rational weighing of the pros and cons of a certain action, is suitable in other fields like economics but may be limited to property crimes or other instrumental acts that may result in financial gain. Other critics claim that RCT fails to incorporate the theoretical constructs that are highlighted in other theories of crime, though in many cases this has turned out to be inaccurate. When rational choice is tested in research, experimental designs may only consider the formal sanction variables risk while failing to consider other factors that influence utility reward.

Deterrence theory, which emphasizes the role that formal and informal sanctions play in the prevention of crime, is often positioned right next to RCT in the literature and they are sometimes used interchangeably in empirical research. While the constructs are similar, rational choice theory is conceptually broader than a test of deterrence, which is only concerned with risk and cost components of rational choice. The following paragraphs include a literature review of the three components of rational choice.

Most of these studies are only concerned with individual components of RCT, and so technically speaking, they are only tests of deterrence. Regardless, when taken together, empirical support for each of the three components should be seen as evidence that rational choice theory can be reliably used as a general theory of crime. One of the most heavily researched variables of rational choice in criminology is the probability of apprehension p and how it relates to crime prevention.

Research suggests a negative relationship between crime and police presence , increases in police manpower, and hot spot and problem-oriented policing. Tests of subjectivity on risk can also be found in the literature. Researchers have found evidence that subjective risk perception is in a constant flux of change that is rationally updated when an individual is exposed to new information; this has been demonstrated in samples of serious offenders, high-risk youth and in the general population. Most of these studies have operationalized severity in terms of longer prison sentences, the results of which have been mixed. These inconsistent results have led to controversy in the field of criminology; critics claim this should be seen as definitive proof that rational choice is not a reliable theory of crime.

These conclusions that can be drawn from these studies are limited. Not only did they fail to consider an interaction between severity and certainty which is essential in a true test of RCT , but they did not entertain other informal costs of crime that have been supported empirically, such as embarrassment, guilt or shame. Strain theory, also known as Mertonian Anomie, advanced by American sociologist Robert Merton , suggests that mainstream culture, especially in the United States, is saturated with dreams of opportunity, freedom, and prosperity—as Merton put it, the American Dream.

Most people buy into this dream, and it becomes a powerful cultural and psychological motivator. Merton also used the term anomie , but it meant something slightly different for him than it did for Durkheim. Merton saw the term as meaning a dichotomy between what society expected of its citizens and what those citizens could actually achieve. Therefore, if the social structure of opportunities is unequal and prevents the majority from realizing the dream, some of those dejected will turn to illegitimate means crime in order to realize it.

Others will retreat or drop out into deviant subcultures such as gang members , or what he calls " hobos ". Robert Agnew developed this theory further to include types of strain which were not derived from financial constraints. This is known as general strain theory. Following the Chicago school and strain theory, and also drawing on Edwin Sutherland 's idea of differential association , sub-cultural theorists focused on small cultural groups fragmenting away from the mainstream to form their own values and meanings about life.

Albert K. Cohen tied anomie theory with Sigmund Freud 's reaction formation idea, suggesting that delinquency among lower-class youths is a reaction against the social norms of the middle class. Criminal acts may result when youths conform to norms of the deviant subculture. Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin suggested that delinquency can result from a differential opportunity for lower class youth. Delinquency tends to occur among the lower-working-class males who have a lack of resources available to them and live in impoverished areas, as mentioned extensively by Albert Cohen Cohen, Bias has been known to occur among law enforcement agencies, where officers tend to place a bias on minority groups, without knowing for sure if they had committed a crime or not.

British sub-cultural theorists focused more heavily on the issue of class , where some criminal activities were seen as "imaginary solutions" to the problem of belonging to a subordinate class. A further study by the Chicago school looked at gangs and the influence of the interaction of gang leaders under the observation of adults. Sociologists such as Raymond D. Gastil have explored the impact of a Southern culture of honor on violent crime rates. Another approach is made by the social bond or social control theory.

Instead of looking for factors that make people become criminal, these theories try to explain why people do not become criminal. Travis Hirschi identified four main characteristics: "attachment to others", "belief in moral validity of rules", "commitment to achievement", and "involvement in conventional activities". On the other hand, if these factors are not present, a person is more likely to become a criminal. Hirschi expanded on this theory with the idea that a person with low self-control is more likely to become criminal. As opposed to most criminology theories, these do not look at why people commit crime but rather why they do not commit crime.

A simple example: Someone wants a big yacht but does not have the means to buy one. If the person cannot exert self-control, he or she might try to get the yacht or the means for it in an illegal way, whereas someone with high self-control will more likely either wait, deny themselves of what want or seek an intelligent intermediate solution, such as joining a yacht club to use a yacht by group consolidation of resources without violating social norms. Social bonds, through peers , parents, and others can have a countering effect on one's low self-control. For families of low socio-economic status, a factor that distinguishes families with delinquent children, from those who are not delinquent, is the control exerted by parents or chaperonage. Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory and therapy which regards the unconscious mind, repressed memories and trauma , as the key drivers of behavior, especially deviant behavior.

Phillida Rosnick , in the article Mental Pain and Social Trauma, posits a difference in the thoughts of individuals suffering traumatic unconscious pain which corresponds to them having thoughts and feelings which are not reflections of their true selves. There is enough correlation between this altered state of mind and criminality to suggest causation. Symbolic interactionism draws on the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and George Herbert Mead , as well as subcultural theory and conflict theory.

The powerful groups had the ability to become the "significant other" in the less powerful groups' processes of generating meaning. The former could to some extent impose their meanings on the latter; therefore they were able to "label" minor delinquent youngsters as criminal. These youngsters would often take the label on board, indulge in crime more readily, and become actors in the " self-fulfilling prophecy " of the powerful groups.

Later developments in this set of theories were by Howard Becker and Edwin Lemert , in the midth century. Labeling theory refers to an individual who is labeled in a particular way and was studied in great detail by Becker. It is said that when someone is given the label of a criminal they may reject or accept it and continue to commit crime. Even those who initially reject the label can eventually accept it as the label becomes more well known, particularly among their peers. This stigma can become even more profound when the labels are about deviancy, and it is thought that this stigmatization can lead to deviancy amplification. Malcolm Klein conducted a test which showed that labeling theory affected some youth offenders but not others.

At the other side of the spectrum, criminologist Lonnie Athens developed a theory about how a process of brutalization by parents or peers that usually occurs in childhood results in violent crimes in adulthood. Richard Rhodes ' Why They Kill describes Athens' observations about domestic and societal violence in the criminals' backgrounds. Both Athens and Rhodes reject the genetic inheritance theories.

Rational choice theory is based on the utilitarian , classical school philosophies of Cesare Beccaria , which were popularized by Jeremy Bentham. They argued that punishment, if certain, swift, and proportionate to the crime, was a deterrent for crime, with risks outweighing possible benefits to the offender. In Dei delitti e delle pene On Crimes and Punishments, — , Beccaria advocated a rational penology. Beccaria conceived of punishment as the necessary application of the law for a crime; thus, the judge was simply to confirm his or her sentence to the law. Beccaria also distinguished between crime and sin , and advocated against the death penalty , as well as torture and inhumane treatments, as he did not consider them as rational deterrents.

This philosophy was replaced by the positivist and Chicago schools and was not revived until the s with the writings of James Q. Becker, for example, acknowledged that many people operate under a high moral and ethical constraint but considered that criminals rationally see that the benefits of their crime outweigh the cost, such as the probability of apprehension and conviction, severity of punishment, as well as their current set of opportunities. From the public policy perspective, since the cost of increasing the fine is marginal to that of the cost of increasing surveillance , one can conclude that the best policy is to maximize the fine and minimize surveillance.

With this perspective, crime prevention or reduction measures can be devised to increase the effort required to commit the crime, such as target hardening. One of the main differences between this theory and Bentham's rational choice theory, which had been abandoned in criminology, is that if Bentham considered it possible to completely annihilate crime through the panopticon , Becker's theory acknowledged that a society could not eradicate crime beneath a certain level. This reveals that the goals of utilitarianism and classical liberalism have to be tempered and reduced to more modest proposals to be practically applicable.

Such rational choice theories, linked to neoliberalism , have been at the basics of crime prevention through environmental design and underpin the Market Reduction Approach to theft [52] by Mike Sutton , which is a systematic toolkit for those seeking to focus attention on "crime facilitators" by tackling the markets for stolen goods [53] that provide motivation for thieves to supply them by theft. Routine activity theory, developed by Marcus Felson and Lawrence Cohen, draws upon control theories and explains crime in terms of crime opportunities that occur in everyday life. Biosocial criminology is an interdisciplinary field that aims to explain crime and antisocial behavior by exploring both biological factors and environmental factors.

While contemporary criminology has been dominated by sociological theories, biosocial criminology also recognizes the potential contributions of fields such as genetics , neuropsychology , and evolutionary psychology. Specifically, they seek to explain why criminality is so much higher in men than in women and why young men are most likely to exhibit criminal behavior. Aggressive behavior has been associated with abnormalities in three principal regulatory systems in the body: serotonin systems, catecholamine systems, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis.

Abnormalities in these systems also are known to be induced by stress , either severe, acute stress or chronic low-grade stress. The group was restricted to academics and consisted of members. Thus, they decided to pursue a new Marxist criminological approach. According to the Marxist perspective on crime, "defiance is normal — the sense that men are now consciously involved Supplying us with the causalities of genocides , environmental degradation , and war. These are not crimes that occur out of contempt for their fellow man. These are crimes of power to continue systems of control and hegemony which allow state crime and state-corporate crime , along with state-corporate non-profit criminals, to continue governing people.

Convict criminology is a school of thought in the realm of criminology. Convict criminologists have been directly affected by the criminal justice system , oftentimes having spent years inside the prison system. Researchers in the field of convict criminology such as John Irwin and Stephan Richards argue that traditional criminology can better be understood by those who lived in the walls of a prison. S still remains the main focus for those who study convict criminology. Queer criminology is a field of study that focuses on LGBT individuals and their interactions with the criminal justice system. The goals of this field of study are as follows:.

The value of pursuing criminology from a queer theorist perspective is contested; some believe that it is not worth researching and not relevant to the field as a whole, and as a result is a subject that lacks a wide berth of research available. On the other hand, it could be argued that this subject is highly valuable in highlighting how LGBT individuals are affected by the criminal justice system. This research also has the opportunity to "queer" the curriculum of criminology in educational institutions by shifting the focus from controlling and monitoring LGBT communities to liberating and protecting them. Cultural criminology views crime and its control within the context of culture. Linking the history of an individual to a location can help determine social dynamics.

This is full of those affected by poverty, poor health and crime, and large buildings that impact the city but not neighborhoods. It was later that Naegler and Salman introduced feminist theory to cultural criminology and discussed masculinity and femininity , sexual attraction and sexuality, and intersectional themes. When examined, they are left with the knowledge that they are not all the same, but come to a settlement of living together in the same space. Relative deprivation involves the process where an individual measures his or her own well-being and materialistic worth against that of other people and perceive that they are worse off in comparison. Relative deprivation was originally utilized in the field of sociology by Samuel A.

Stouffer , who was a pioneer of this theory. Stouffer revealed that soldiers fighting in World War II measured their personal success by the experience in their units rather than by the standards set by the military. It is not based on absolute poverty , a condition where one cannot meet a necessary level to maintain basic living standards. Rather, relative deprivation enforces the idea that even if a person is financially stable, he or she can still feel relatively deprived. In criminology, the theory of relative deprivation explains that people who feel jealous and discontent of others might turn to crime to acquire the things that they can not afford. Rural criminology is the study of crime trends outside of metropolitan and suburban areas. Rural criminologists have used social disorganization and routine activity theories.

The FBI Uniform Crime Report shows that rural communities have significantly different crime trends as opposed to metropolitan and suburban areas. The crime in rural communities consists predominantly of narcotic related crimes such as the production, use, and trafficking of narcotics. Social disorganization theory is used to examine the trends involving narcotics. Routine activity theory is used to examine all low-level street crimes such as theft. Public criminology is a strand within criminology closely tied to ideas associated with " public sociology ", focused on disseminating criminological insights to a broader audience than academia. Advocates of public criminology argue that criminologists should be "conducting and disseminating research on crime, law, and deviance in dialogue with affected communities.

This allows criminologists to avoid the constraints of traditional criminological research. Both the positivist and classical schools take a consensus view of crime: that a crime is an act that violates the basic values and beliefs of society. Those values and beliefs are manifested as laws that society agrees upon. However, there are two types of laws:. Therefore, definitions of crimes will vary from place to place, in accordance to the cultural norms and mores, but may be broadly classified as a blue-collar crime , corporate crime , organized crime , political crime , public order crime , state crime , state-corporate crime , and white-collar crime.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Study of the causes and manifestations of crime. For the academic journal, see Criminology journal. For the Raekwon song, see Criminology song.

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