The following is a list of some theories that have been developed to explain why people do or do not commit crime. Each theory lists the theorists who developed it and a brief explanation of the theory.
Routine Activities Theory by Felson and Cohen
Variables that effect a criminal event are:
- Motivated offenders
- Suitable targets
- Capable guardians
The rate of criminal victimization is increased when there is a convergence in space and time of the three elements.
Theory of the Born Criminal by Lombroso
- Criminals are physically different from law-abiding people and these differences demonstrate the biological causes of criminal behavior.
- Born criminal is an "atavism," a throwback to an earlier stage of evolution.
- Insane criminal is mentally unfit for society.
- Criminaloids are motivated by passion and have an uncontrollable urge to commit crime.
- Theory of Super-Male Criminal by Fox
- XYY chromosomes in certain males make them super males and prone to be violent criminals.
Psychoanalytic Theory by Friedlander
- Looks into the mind of the criminal.
- Crime is only a symptom of the psychic conflict between the id, ego, and super ego.
- Crime arises from abnormal maturation, poor early relationships with parents, or repressed sexuality or guilt.
Personality Theory by Hathaway
Criminals have abnormal, inadequate, or specifically criminal personalities that differentiate them from law-abiding people.
Inherited Criminal Theory by Menick
Some genetic factor is passed along from parent to offspring which causes an inherited susceptibility to succumb to crime.
- Everyone will conform in the absence of motivations to not conform.
- Internal and External Controls Theory by Reiss and Nye
- Delinquency is the failure of personal and social controls.
- Rewards for conformity and punishment of deviance.
- Categories of social control:
- Direct control is punishment
- Indirect Control is pain or disappointment one might cause in one to which one has close relationships.
- Internal Control is conscience or sense of guilt
Differential Association Theory by Sutherland
- Criminal behavior is developed through differential association with those who commit crime or those who are law-abiding
- Theory states:
- Criminal behavior is learned.
- It is learned in interaction with other persons.
- It occurs within intimate groups.
- Learning includes:
- Techniques of committing crime
- Motives, derives, rationalizations, and attitudes.
- Things learned can be favorable or unfavorable to committing crime.
- A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law.
- Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity.
- The learning involves all the mechanisms that are involved in any other type of learning.
Although criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by them, since non-criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values.
Containment Theory by Reckless
- Factors that push toward delinquency( poverty and blocked opportunities) or pull into it (gangs or delinquent subcultures).
- Outer containment- parents and schools
- Inner containment- strong conscience or good self-concept.
Drift Theory by Matza
Drift is when kids use neutralization to get episodic release from conventional moral restraints and the drift in and out of delinquency.
Self-Control Theory by Gottfredson and Hirschi
- People with high self-control will be less likely at all periods of life to engage in criminal acts.
- Once formed in childhood, self-control stays stable throughout life.
Labeling Theory by Lemert or Becker
Labels that are placed on people may be because of their behavior or the labels may cause their behavior.
Social Disorganization Theory by Shaw and Mckay
Social order, stability, and integration are conducive to conformity and disorder and mal-integration are conducive to crime and deviance.
Shaming Theory by Braithwaite
Shaming: social disapproval which invokes remorse in the person shamed or condemnation by others who are aware of the shaming.
Disintegrative Shaming: involves no attempt to reconcile the shamed offender with the community.
Re-integrative Shaming: shaming followed by efforts to reintegrate offender back into the community.
Anomie Theory by Merton
- Dissociation between valued cultural ends and legitimate societal means to those ends.Causes strain to take advantage of whatever effective means to income or success they can find, legal or illegal.
- Modes of adaptation:
Delinquent Subculture Theory by Cohen
- Non utilitarian
- Short Term Hedonism
- Group Autonomy
Functionalist Theory by Davis
Views law as functioning for the greater public welfare, it serves the interests of everyone. Laws serve symbolic functions to condemn certain behaviors even if they do not deter them.
Focal Concerns of Lower Class Culture by Miller
- Delinquent behavior is a youthful adaptation to a distinct lower-class culture
- Focal concerns of lower-class are:
Integrated-Structural Marxist Theory by Colvin and Pauly
- Practices of parents in the socialization and discipline of their children reflect the kind of control that the parents are themselves subject to in the work place.
- Left Realism
- Don’t believe crime is from class struggle
- Square of crime operate to produce crime
- Peace Making
- They liken crime to war and declare it is time to try peace between offenders, victims, police, and the community using mediation, reconciliation, and reintegration of the offender into the community.
Power-Control Theory by Hagan
Family social structure drives from the position spouses occupy in their work inside and outside the home. Non-supportive and contrary evidence in test.
Self-Concept Theory by Reckless and Dinitz
- The way a person considers themselves as either "good" or "bad."
- A good person may have an insulated self-concept that enables them to resistance delinquency.
Lifestyle-Exposure Theory by Gottfredson
Demographic differences in the likelihood of victimization are attributed to differences in lifestyles
Routine Activities Theory by Cohen and Felson
- Routine activities or lifestyles in conventional society provide an opportunity structure for crime.
- Cultural Conflicts
- Conflicts arise when:
- Codes of conduct clash on the border between groups.
- Law of one group extends into another group.
- One cultural group migrates into another.
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