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LSA2010 Criminological Theories
Transcript of LSA2010 Criminological Theories
By: Keegan Brow For ages and millenia people have sought to explain just why criminals commit crime. They've wondered and postulated that criminals are bad people, infested by demons, or merely just animals in the shape of men. Occasionally a madman does an insane crime, or a psychopath rampages on a homicidal journey through a once quiet neighberhood, but the most common kind of criminal is just like you or me. He wakes up, eats breakfast, and goes to work (or school in our case.)
But many modern scientists have sough to answer, using technology and logic, this age old question. What causes such a man to commit criminal acts? And
Fall.. Deterrence / Rational Choice Psychological Biological Social Learning Four predominant theories have come to be accepted as
the normal ways of theorizing and these are... Rational Choice Theory is a theory (most likely influenced by utilitarianism) that believes that criminals weighs the means and ends, cost and benefits, and then chooses in a fully logical manner to commit a crime. Some of the things that might help influence a crime to happen according to this theory are...
an available and suitable target;
a motivated offender; and
no authority figure to prevent the crime from happening. Crime Prevention Theory, as proposed by Clarke (1995, 1997), focuses on reducing crime opportunities rather than on the characteristics of criminals or potential criminals. The strategy is to increase the associated risks and difficulties, and reduce the rewards. An example of rational choice theory in action would be a juvenile walks into a store that has no security cameras, no guards, and no supervision by workers. He walks up to the candy rack, grabs as much as he can fit in his pockets, and walks away. He weighed the risks (security, guards, etc) versus the pros (food, doesnt cost money, etc)
Now lets say the same man walks into a different store and sees four secuyrity cameras per aisle, twenty five cops, and staff consistently watching the merchandise. Most people with common sense would see that getting a few candy bars is not worth the risk of getting caught, thus crime wouldnt happen. As long ago as 1870, Henry Maudsly, in his book, Body and Mind, wrote that criminals would go insane if they didn't engage in crime. This is because their pathological urges must find expression in something. So, it has long been recognized that there is a strong relationship between mental illness and crime (not to say that one is the cause of another). The most widely cited psychiatrist on the subject is Seymour Halleck (1971) who postulated that the pathological urges which lead to crime are rooted in emotional experiences of oppression which is characterized by an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. the adaptational advantages of crime in changing one's environment are more desirable than illness or conformity
crime involves activity, and when man is engaged in motoric behavior, he feels less helpless
however petty a criminal act may be, it carries with it a promise of change in a favorable direction
during the planning and execution of a criminal act, the offender is a free man, immune from the dictates of others
crime offers the possibility of excitement
crime calls for the individual to maximize his faculties and talents which might otherwise lie dormant
crime can relieve feelings of inner oppression and stress
crime increases external stresses, which allows the individual to concentrate upon these threats to his equilibrium and temporarily allows him to abandon his chronic intrapsychic problems
once a person has convinced himself that the major pressures in his life come from without, there is less tendency to blame himself for this failure
adopting the criminal role provides an excellent rationalization for inadequacy
crime has a more esteemed social status than mental illness
America has an ambivalent attitude toward crime in that although crime is regularly condemned, it is also glamorized
deviant behavior sometimes helps the criminal to form close and relatively nonoppressive relations with other criminals
crime can provide pleasure or gratify needs
Criminal adaptation to this condition of helplessness occurs because choosing crime over other possible alternatives provides certain psychological advantages or gratifications, as follows: Biological points of view on criminology suggest that criminal actions are an inherited trait or gene that are passed down generation to generation. Ernest Mayr, a major contributor in the field of biological criminology, states that genetic influences are not to be confused with evolutionary influences, as genetics have to do with specific organisms out of a species whereas evolution has to do with the species as a whole. Some other popular biological theories are...
Atavism - a theory by Lombroso that states criminals are born the way they are and that they are a throwback to primitive man.
ANS - Mednick stated that people with a slower autonomic nervous system learn to control violent and criminal urges slower if at all compared to the average person.
One other key theory is...
Somatotype - This theory by William Herbert Sehlton stated that your biological make up and shape of body would affect your personality and your personality would affect how likely you would be to comit crimes. He stated that there were three kinds of body types. In the age old argument of Nature vs Nurture Social Learning Theory is the idea that crime happens due to your surrounding environment. This is then further reinforced with either negative or positive reinforcement. Akers, a highly influential contributor to the field of Social Learning, came up with four theories... Definitions - the process by which a person assigns right and wrong values, rationalizes, and observes an action. Definitions of the law can be specific or general, as in a person might wish to obey the law but break it to have a beer while underage.
Differential Reinforcement - This is the stage where a oerson considers the potential benefits and drawbacks of commiting a criminal/deviant act. This includes past and future pros/cons. Imitation - People are able to commit crimes as they see it happening through social media, and in many contexts of modern life. They see the benefits and few drawbacks from the televised life of crime.
Differential Identifications - People commit crimes for the way that it will affect peoples way of looking at them, or affect their social status. Fields of theories are archetypes of criminological theories are overviews of the many many theories abounding today about modern crime. Each seeks to explain why crime is happening and use different methods to do so. Three such fields are.... Classical Theory - This includes Rational Choice theory and it believes that people commit crimes due to free will.
Positive Schools - This field includes Biological, Psychological and Social theories. These theories believe that influences ourside of our control (genetics, mind, society, etc) influence people to commit crimes. Sociological Determinism - This field believes that criminology is caused by the way that society veiws crime. This field includes Social Learning Labeling, Anomie, and Conflict theories. Bibliography - Wikipedia, http://web.viu.ca/crim/Student/Erin%20VZBakker.pdf
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