Theories of crime (criminology)

University of Dhaka
University of DhakaLaw Student em University of Dhaka
Chapter 1
Crime and Justice in the
United States
Chapter 1
Crime and Justice in the
United States
Chapter 3
Explaining Crime
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Explaining Crime
CHAPTER OBJECTIVES
After completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1. Define criminological theory.
2. State the causes of crime according to classical
and neoclassical criminologists.
3. Describe the biological theories of crime
causation.
4. Describe the different psychological theories
of crime causation.
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5. Explain sociological theories of crime
causation
6. Distinguish major differences among classical,
positivist, and critical theories of crime
causation.
7. Describe how critical theorists would explain
the causes of crime.
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3.1 Introduction to
Criminological Theory
Several theories attempt to explain criminal
behavior. Some theories assume:
• Crime is part of human nature.
• Crime is based on biological,
psychological, sociological, and/or
economic aspects.
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theories
An assumption (or set of assumptions) that attempt to
explain why or how things are related to each other.
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Criminological Theory
Most of what is done in criminal justice is
based on criminological theory. Failure to
understand these theories leads to:
• Problems that undermine the success of the
theories
• Intrusion on people’s lives without good
reason
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criminological theory
The explanation of criminal behavior, as well as the
behavior of police, attorneys, prosecutors, judges,
correctional personnel, victims, and other actors in
the criminal justice system.
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What is a theory? Why is it important to
understand the various theories of criminal
behavior?
CRITICAL THINKING
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3.2 Classical and Neoclassical
Approaches to Explaining Crime
The causes of crime have been the subject of
much speculation, theorizing, research, and
debate. Theories about the cause of crime are
based on religion, philosophy, politics,
economic, and social forces.
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Classical Theory
One of the earliest secular approaches to
explaining the causes of crime was the
classical theory.
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classical theory
A product of the Enlightenment, based on the
assumption that people exercise free will and are thus
completely responsible for their actions. In classical
theory, human behavior, including criminal behavior,
is motivated by a hedonistic rationality, in which
actors weigh the potential pleasure of an action
against the possible pain associated with it.
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Classical Theory
In 1764, criminologist Cesare Beccaria wrote
An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, which
set forth classical criminological theory.
He argued that the only justified rationale for
laws and punishments was the principle of
utility.
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utility
The principle that a policy should provide “the
greatest happiness shared by the greatest number.”
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Classical Theory
Beccaria believed the basis of society, as well
as the origin of punishments and the right to
punish, is the social contract.
The only legitimate purpose of punishment is
special deterrence and general deterrence.
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special deterrence
The prevention of individuals from committing crime
again by punishing them.
social contract
An imaginary agreement to sacrifice the minimum
amount of liberty to prevent anarchy and chaos.
continued…
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general deterrence
The prevention of people in general or society at
large from engaging in crime by punishing specific
individuals and making examples of them.
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Classical Theory
Beccaria believed the best way to prevent and
deter crime was to:
• Enact laws that are clear, simple, and unbiased, and
that reflect the consensus of the population.
• Educate the public.
• Eliminate corruption from the administration of justice.
• Reward virtue.
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Classical Theory
The main real-world drawbacks of Beccaria’s
theory are:
• Not all offenders are alike—juveniles are treated
the same as adults.
• Similar crimes are not always as similar as they
might appear—first-time offenders are treated the
same as repeat offenders.
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Neoclassical Theory
Classical theory was difficult to apply in
practice. It was modified in the early 1800s
and became known as neoclassical theory.
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neoclassical theory
A modification of classical theory in which it was
conceded that certain factors, such as insanity, might
inhibit the exercise of free will.
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Neoclassical Theory
Neoclassical theory introduced the idea of:
• Premeditation as a measure of the degree of
free will.
• Mitigating circumstances as legitimate
grounds for diminished responsibility.
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Neoclassical Theory
Classical and neoclassical theory are the basis
of the criminal justice system in the United
States.
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1. Name four of the ways that classical
criminologist Cesare Beccaria thought
were best to prevent or deter crime. Do
you agree with Beccaria? Why or why
not?
2. What are the main differences between
classical and neoclassical theories?
CRITICAL THINKING
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3.3 Positivist Approaches to
Explaining Crime
The theory of the positivist school of
criminology grew out of positive philosophy
and the logic and methodology of
experimental science.
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The Positivist School of Thought
The key assumptions of the positivist school
of thought were:
1. Human behavior is determined and not a matter of free
will.
2. Criminals are fundamentally different from noncriminals.
3. Social scientists can be objective in their work.
4. Crime is frequently caused by multiple factors.
5. Society is based on consensus, but not on a social contract.
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The Positivist School of Thought
The problems with positivist assumptions are
that they:
1. Account for too much crime.
2. Ignore the process by which behaviors are made illegal.
3. Assume that most people agree about most things most of the
time.
4. Believe that action is determined by causes independent of a
person’s free will.
5. Believe that social scientists will be objective in their work.
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Try to identify harmful or destructive
behaviors that are not defined as crimes.
Why do you think these behaviors are not
defined as crimes?
JUSTICE ISSUE
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Biological Theories
Biological theories of crime causation
(biological positivism) are based on the belief
that criminals are physiologically different
from noncriminals. The cause of crime is
biological inferiority.
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biological inferiority
According to biological theories, a criminal’s innate
physiological makeup produces certain physical or
genetic characteristics that distinguish criminals from
noncriminals.
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Criminal Anthropology
Criminal anthropology is associated with
the work of Cesare Lombroso, who published
his theory of a physical criminal type in 1876.
criminal anthropology
The study of “criminal” human beings.
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Criminal Anthropology
Lombroso’s theory consisted of the following
propositions:
1. Criminals are, by birth, a distinct type.
2. That type can be recognized by physical
characteristics, or stigmata, such as enormous
jaws, high cheekbones, and insensitivity to pain.
continued…
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Criminal Anthropology
3. The criminal type is clearly distinguished in a
person with more than five stigmata, perhaps
exists in a person with three to five stigmata, and
does not necessarily exist in a person with fewer
than three stigmata.
4. Physical stigmata do not cause crime; they only
indicate an individual who is predisposed to
crime. Such a person is either an atavist or a
result of degeneration.
continued…
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Criminal Anthropology
5. Because of their personal natures, such persons
cannot desist from crime unless they experience
very favorable lives.
atavist
A person who reverts to a savage type.
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Body-Type Theory
Body-type theory is an extension of Lombroso’s
criminal anthropology, developed by Ernst
Kretchmer and later William Sheldon. It says that
human beings can be divided into three basic body
types, or somatotypes:
1. Endomorphic (soft, fat)
2. Mesomorphic (athletically built)
3. Ectomorphic (tall, skinny)
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Body-Type Theory
Sheldon found that delinquents were more
mesomorphic than nondelinquents, and
serious delinquents were more mesomorphic
than less severe delinquents.
Sheldon did not consider that delinquents are
more likely to be mesomorphic because, for
example, mesomorphs are more likely to be
selected for gang membership.
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Heredity Studies
Several studies have attempted to determine if
criminality is hereditary by studying:
All of these methods fail to prove that criminality is
hereditary, because they cannot separate hereditary
influences from environmental influences.
• family trees
• statistics
• identical and fraternal twins
• adopted children
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Modern Biocriminology
Ongoing research has revealed numerous
biological factors associated either directly or
indirectly with criminal or delinquent
behavior:
• chemical, mineral, and vitamin deficiencies in the diet
• diets high in sugar and carbohydrates
• hypoglycemia
continued…
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Modern Biocriminology
• ingestion of food dyes and lead
• exposure to radiation
• brain dysfunctions
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Modern Biocriminology
The limbic system is a structure surrounding
the brain stem that is believed to moderate
expressions of violence.
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limbic system
A structure surrounding the brain stem that, in part,
controls the life functions of heartbeat, breathing, and
sleep.
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Modern Biocriminology
Violent criminal behavior has also been
linked to disorders in other parts of the brain.
Recent evidence suggests that chronic violent
offenders have much higher levels of brain
disorder than the general population.
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Brain Neurotransmitters
Some criminal behaviors are believed to be
influenced by low levels of brain
neurotransmitters (the substances brain cells
use to communicate).
• Low levels of serotonin have been found in
impulsive murderers and arsonists.
• Norepinephrine may be associated with
compulsive gambling.
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Hormones
Criminal behaviors have also been associated
with hormone abnormalities, especially those
involving:
• Testosterone (a male sex hormone)
• Progesterone and estrogen (female sex hormones)
Administering estrogen to male sex offenders has
been found to reduce their sexual drives.
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What are the pros and cons of using chemical or
physical castration on repeat sex offenders?
JUSTICE ISSUE
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Positivist Approaches
Today, most criminologists believe that
criminal behavior is the product of a complex
interaction between biology and
environmental or social conditions.
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Positivist Approaches
Biology or genetics gives an individual a
predisposition to behave in a certain way.
Whether a person actually behaves in that
way and whether that behavior is defined as a
crime depend on environmental or social
conditions.
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Psychological Theories
There are many theories regarding
psychological causes of crime, including:
• Intelligence and crime
• Psychoanalytic theories
• Psychoanalysis
• Humanistic psychological theory
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Intelligence and Crime
The idea that crime is the product primarily of
people of low intelligence has been popular
occasionally in the United States.
A study in 1931 showed no correlation
between intelligence and criminality.
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Psychoanalytic Theories
Psychoanalytic theories of crime causation are
associated with the work of Sigmund Freud
who believed that people who had unresolved
deep-seated problems were psychopaths.
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psychopaths
Persons characterized by no sense of guilt, no
subjective conscience, and no sense of right and
wrong. They have difficulty in forming relationships
with other people; they cannot empathize with other
people. They are also called sociopaths or antisocial
personalities.
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Psychoanalysis
The principal policy implication of
considering crime symptomatic of deep-
seated problems is to provide psychotherapy
or psychoanalysis in order to resolve the
symptoms associated with the problems.
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Psychoanalysis
The problems with the idea that criminals are
biologically or psychologically “sick” are:
1. The bulk of the research on the issue suggests that
most criminals are no more disturbed than the rest
of the population.
2. Many people with psychological disturbances do
not commit crimes.
continued…
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Psychoanalysis
3. Psychoanalytic theory ignores environmental
circumstances.
4. Much of the theoretical structure of psychotherapy
is scientifically untestable.
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Humanistic Psychological Theory
Abraham Maslow and Seymour Halleck
developed theories similar to Freud’s but
based on the assumption that human beings
are basically good.
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Humanistic Psychological Theory
Maslow believed that human beings are
motivated by five basic levels of needs, and
that people choose crime because they cannot
(or will not) satisfy their needs legally.
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Humanistic Psychological Theory
Halleck views crime as one of several
adaptations to the helplessness caused by
oppression.
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Humanistic Psychological Theory
Neither Maslow nor Halleck asks these basic
questions:
• Why can’t people satisfy their basic needs legally,
or why do they choose not to?
• Why don’t societies ensure that basic needs can be
satisfied legally so that the choice to satisfy them
illegally makes no sense?
continued…
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Humanistic Psychological Theory
• Why does society oppress many people, and why
aren’t more effective measures taken to greatly
reduce that oppression?
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What formal and informal forms of coercion
do you have to submit to?
Do you think that such coercion can influence
whether you might commit a crime?
JUSTICE ISSUE
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Sociological Theories
Sociologists emphasize that human beings
live in social groups and that those groups and
the social structure they create influence
behavior.
Most sociological theories of crime causation
assume that a criminal’s behavior is
determined by his or her social environment
and reject the notion of the born criminal.
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The Contributions of Durkheim
Many sociological theories of crime causation
stem from the work of Emile Durkheim who
rejected the idea that the world is simply the
product of individual actions.
Social laws and institutions are “social facts”
and all people can do is submit to them.
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The Contributions of Durkheim
Durkheim argued that crime is also a social
fact. The cause of crime is anomie.
Crime is functional for society and marks the
boundaries of morality. He advocated
containing crime within reasonable
boundaries.
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anomie
For Durkheim, the dissociation of the individual from
the collective conscience.
collective conscience
The general sense of morality of the times.
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The Theory of the
Chicago School
In the 1920s, a group of sociologists known as
the Chicago School attempted to uncover the
relationship between a neighborhood’s crime
rate and the characteristics of the
neighborhood.
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Chicago School
A group of sociologists at the University of Chicago
who assumed in their research that delinquent
behavior was a product of social disorganization.
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The Theory of the
Chicago School
The Chicago School described American cities
in ecological terms, saying growth occurs
through a process of:
Invasion: A cultural or ethnic group invades a territory.
Domination:
Succession:
The group dominates that territory.
The group is succeeded by another group and
the cycle repeats itself.
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The Theory of the
Chicago School
Other studies found that neighborhoods that
experienced high delinquency rates also
experienced social disorganization.
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social disorganization
The condition in which the usual controls over
delinquents are largely absent, delinquent behavior is
often approved of by parents and neighbors, there are
many opportunities for delinquent behavior, and
there is little encouragement, training, or opportunity
for legitimate employment.
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The Theory of the
Chicago School
One of the problems with the theory of the
Chicago School is the presumption that social
disorganization is a cause of delinquency.
Both social disorganization and delinquency
may be the product of other, more basic
factors.
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Anomie or Strain Theory
Robert Merton in 1938 wrote about a major
contradiction in the U.S. between cultural
goals and social structure. He called the
contradiction anomie.
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anomie
For Merton, the contradiction between the cultural
goal of achieving wealth and the social structure’s
inability to provide legitimate institutional means for
achieving the goal.
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Anomie or Strain Theory
Merton argued that the limited availability of
legitimate institutionalized means to wealth
puts a strain on people. People adapt through:
1. Conformity—playing the game.
2. Innovation—pursuing wealth by illegitimate
means.
continued…
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Anomie or Strain Theory
3. Ritualism—not actively pursuing wealth.
4. Retreatism—dropping out.
5. Rebellion—rejecting the goal of wealth and the
institutional means of getting it.
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Anomie or Strain Theory
In the mid-1950s, Albert K. Cohen adapted
Merton’s anomie or strain theory to explain gang
delinquency.
anomie
For Cohen, it is caused by the inability of juveniles to
achieve status among peers by socially acceptable
means.
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Anomie or Strain Theory
Juveniles unable to achieve status through
socially acceptable means either:
• conform to middle-class values and resign
themselves to their inferior status, or
• rebel and establish their own value structures,
then find others like themselves and form
groups to validate and reinforce the new values.
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Anomie or Strain Theory
Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin further argued
that the type of adaptation made by juvenile gang
members depends on the illegitimate opportunity
structure available to them. They identified three
gang subcultures:
continued…
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• Criminal—formed to make money.
• Violent—formed to vent anger if they can’t
make money.
• Retreatist—formed by those who can’t join the
other gangs, and become alcoholics and drug
addicts.
Anomie or Strain Theory
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Learning Theories
Gabriel Tarde was one of the first theorists to
believe that crime was something learned by
normal people as they adapted to other people
and the conditions of their environment.
Writing in Penal Philosophy in 1890, Tarde
viewed all social phenomena as the product of
imitation or modeling.
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imitation or modeling
A means by which a person can learn new responses
by observing others without performing any overt act
or receiving direct reinforcement or reward.
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Learning Theories
Edwin H. Sutherland—in his theory of
differential association—was the first 20th-
century criminologist to argue that criminal
behavior was learned.
This theory, modified, remains one of the
most influential theories of crime causation.
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differential association
Sutherland’s theory that persons who become
criminal do so because of contacts with criminal
patterns and isolation from anticriminal patterns.
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Learning Theories
Sutherland’s theory was modified by several
researchers and became generally known as
learning theory.
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learning theory
A theory that explains criminal behavior and its
prevention with the concepts of positive
reinforcement, negative reinforcement, extinction,
punishment, and modeling or imitation.
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Learning Theories
Learning theory argues that people commit
crimes because they get positive
reinforcement or negative reinforcement.
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negative reinforcement
The removal or reduction of a stimulus whose
removal or reduction increases or maintains a
response.
positive reinforcement
The presentation of a stimulus that increases or
maintains a response.
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Learning Theories
According to learning theory, criminal
behavior is reduced, but not eliminated,
through extinction or punishment.
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punishment
The presentation of an aversive stimulus to reduce a
response.
extinction
A process in which behavior that previously was
positively reinforced is no longer reinforced.
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Learning Theories
Among the policy implications of learning theory is
to punish criminal behavior effectively, according to
learning theory principles. This is not done
effectively in the U.S.
• Chances of a prisoner escaping are great.
• Probation does not function as an aversive
stimulus.
• Most offenders are not incarcerated. continued…
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Learning Theories
• Punishment is not consistent and immediate.
• Offenders are generally returned to the
environments in which their crimes were
committed.
• There is no positive reinforcement of alternative,
prosocial behaviors.
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What are the pros and cons of returning
released prisoners to their prior cities and
neighborhoods?
Do you think that government could prohibit
released prisoners from returning to their prior
locales? How would that work?
JUSTICE ISSUE
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Social Control Theories
The key question in the social control theory
is not why people commit crime and
delinquency, but rather why don’t they? Why
do people conform?
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social control theory
A view in which people are expected to commit
crime and delinquency unless they are prevented
from doing so.
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Social Control Theories
The most detailed elaboration of modern
social control theory is attributed to Travis
Hirschi who wrote the 1969 book, Causes of
Delinquency.
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Social Control Theories
Hirschi argued that delinquency should be
expected if a juvenile is not properly
socialized by establishing a strong bond to
society, consisting of:
1. Attachment to others
2. Commitment to conventional lines of action
3. Involvement in conventional activities
4. Belief in the moral order and law
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Social Control Theories
More recently, Hirschi wrote with Michael
Gottfredson that the principal cause of deviant
behaviors is ineffective child rearing, which
produces people with low self-control.
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1. What are the five key assumptions of the
positivist school of thought?
2. How would you describe body-type
theory? What is the major criticism of this
theory?
CRITICAL THINKING
continued…
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3. Explain psychoanalytic theory and some
of the problems associated with it.
4. Explain learning theory. Do you think this
theory has merit?
CRITICAL THINKING
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3.4 Critical Approaches to
Explaining Crime
Critical theories grew out of the changing
social landscape of the American 1960s.
Critical theories assume that human beings
are the creators of institutions and structures
that ultimately dominate and constrain them.
Critical theories assume that society is
characterized primarily by conflict over moral
values.
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Labeling Theory
The focus of labeling theory is the
criminalization process rather than the
positivist concern with the peculiarities of the
criminal.
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criminalization process
The way people and actions are defined as criminal.
labeling theory
A theory that emphasizes the criminalization process
as the cause of some crime.
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Labeling Theory
The labeling theory argues that once a person
commits a first criminal act, they are labeled
negatively as a criminal.
The label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Labeling Theory
A policy implication of labeling theory is
simply not to label, through:
• Decriminalization—The elimination of behaviors
from the scope of criminal law.
• Diversion—Removing offenders from the criminal
justice process.
continued…
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Labeling Theory
• Greater due-process protections—Replacing
discretion with the rule of law.
• Deinstitutionalization—Reducing jail and prison
populations.
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Labeling Theory
An alternative policy is reintegrative shaming:
• Disappointment is expressed for the offender’s
actions.
• The offender is shamed and punished.
• Then the community makes a concerted effort to
reintegrate the offender back into society.
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MYTH FACT
Most offenders resist
being labeled criminal
and accept the label
only when they are no
longer capable of
fighting it.
In some
communities the
label criminal, or
some variation of
it, is actively
sought.
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Conflict Theory
Conflict theory focuses on the conflict in
society between rich and poor, management
and labor, whites and minorities.
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conflict theory
A theory that assumes that society is based primarily
on conflict between competing interest groups and
that criminal law and the criminal justice system are
used to control subordinate groups. Crime is caused
by relative powerlessness.
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Conflict Theory
According to conflict theory, criminal law and
the criminal justice system are used by
dominant groups to control subordinate ones.
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All behavior occurs because people act in ways
consistent with their social positions.
Subordinate groups appear in official criminal
statistics more frequently because dominant
groups have control over the definition of
criminality.
Conflict Theory
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Conflict Theory
The amount of crime in a society is a function
of the extent of conflict generated by power
differentials.
Crime is caused by relative powerlessness.
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relative powerlessness
The inability to dominate other groups in society.
power differentials
The ability of some groups to dominate other groups
in a society.
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Conflict Theory
Policy implications of conflict theory are:
• To redistribute power and wealth through a
more progressive tax system or limitation of
political contributions.
• For dominant group members to become
more effective rulers and subordinate group
members better subjects.
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Radical Theory
Radical theories argue that capitalism
requires people to compete against each other
in the pursuit of material wealth.
The more unevenly wealth is distributed, the
more likely people are to find persons weaker
than themselves that they can take advantage
of in their pursuit of wealth.
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radical theories
Theories of crime causation that are generally based
on a Marxist theory of class struggle.
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Radical Theory
Radical theory defines crime as a violation of
human rights. Under a radical definition of
crime:
• prostitution
• gambling
• drug use
would not be crimes.
• racism
• sexism
• imperialism
would be crimes.
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JUSTICE ISSUE
Do you accept the radical definition of crime
as a violation of politically defined rights to
decent food and shelter, human dignity, and
self-determination?
Do you prefer the traditional legal definition
of crime as a violation of the criminal law,
committed without defense or excuse and
penalized by the state?
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Radical Theory
The policy implications of radical theory include:
• Demonstrating that the current definition of
crime supports the ruling class.
• Redefining crime as a violation of human rights.
• Creation of a benevolent socialist society in
which the economy is regulated to promote
public welfare.
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Radical Theory
Criticisms of radical theory include:
• The radical definition of crime as a violation of
human rights is too broad and vague.
• The adherents of radical theory are pursuing a
political agenda.
• Its causal model is wrong.
• It has not been tested satisfactorily and it cannot
be tested satisfactorily.
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Other Critical Theories
New critical theories of crime causation
include:
• British or left realism
• Peacemaking criminology
• Feminist theory
• Postmodernism
Chapter 3
120
Explaining Crime
British or Left Realism
Many critical criminologists focus on crimes
committed by the powerful. In the mid-1980s
a group of social scientists in Great Britain,
known as left realists, began focusing on
crime by and against the working class.
Left realists want to give more power to
police to combat crime, but also want to make
the police more accountable for their actions.
Chapter 3
121
Explaining Crime
left realists
A group of social scientists who argue that critical
criminologists need to redirect their attention to the
fear and the very real victimization experienced by
working-class people.
Chapter 3
122
Explaining Crime
Peacemaking Criminology
Peacemaking criminology is a mixture of
anarchism, humanism, socialism, and Native
American and Eastern philosophies that
rejects the idea that criminal violence can be
reduced by state violence.
Peacemaking criminologists believe that
reducing suffering will reduce crime.
Chapter 3
123
Explaining Crime
peacemaking criminology
An approach that suggests that the solution to all
social problems, including crime, is the
transformation of human beings, mutual dependence,
reduction of class structures, the creation of
communities of caring people, and universal social
justice.
Chapter 3
124
Explaining Crime
Feminist Theory
Feminist theory looks at crime from a
feminine perspective.
The focus is on three areas of crime and justice:
• The victimization of women
• Gender differences in crime
• Gendered justice (differing treatment of female and
male offenders and victims by the criminal justice
system)
Chapter 3
125
Explaining Crime
feminist theory
A group of social scientists who argue that critical
criminologists need to redirect their attention to the
fear and the very real victimization experienced by
working-class people.
Chapter 3
126
Explaining Crime
Feminist Theory
The principal goal of most feminist theory is
to abolish patriarchy by ensuring women
equal opportunity and equal rights.
Criticisms of feminist theory include:
• The failure to appreciate differences
between women
• A contradictory position regarding police
Chapter 3
127
Explaining Crime
patriarchy
Men’s control over women’s labor and sexuality.
Chapter 3
128
Explaining Crime
Postmodernism
Postmodernism grew out of the 1960s as a
rejection of the Enlightenment belief in
scientific rationality as the route to knowledge
and progress.
Chapter 3
129
Explaining Crime
postmodernism
An area of critical thought which, among other
things, attempts to understand the creation of
knowledge, and how knowledge and language create
hierarchy and domination.
Chapter 3
130
Explaining Crime
Postmodernism
Postmodernist criminologists argue that
interpretations of the law are dependent on the
particular social context in which they arise.
They would change the criminal justice
apparatus with informal social controls.
Chapter 3
131
Explaining Crime
1. How would you explain labeling theory?
2. What is peacemaking criminology? Is this
theory realistic?
3. Explain feminist theory and its key
criticisms.
CRITICAL THINKING
Chapter 1
Crime and Justice in the
United States
Chapter 1
Crime and Justice in the
United States
End of Chapter 3
1 de 132

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Theories of crime (criminology)

  • 1. Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States Chapter 3 Explaining Crime
  • 2. Chapter 3 2 Explaining Crime CHAPTER OBJECTIVES After completing this chapter, you should be able to: 1. Define criminological theory. 2. State the causes of crime according to classical and neoclassical criminologists. 3. Describe the biological theories of crime causation. 4. Describe the different psychological theories of crime causation.
  • 3. Chapter 3 3 Explaining Crime 5. Explain sociological theories of crime causation 6. Distinguish major differences among classical, positivist, and critical theories of crime causation. 7. Describe how critical theorists would explain the causes of crime.
  • 4. Chapter 3 4 Explaining Crime 3.1 Introduction to Criminological Theory Several theories attempt to explain criminal behavior. Some theories assume: • Crime is part of human nature. • Crime is based on biological, psychological, sociological, and/or economic aspects.
  • 5. Chapter 3 5 Explaining Crime theories An assumption (or set of assumptions) that attempt to explain why or how things are related to each other.
  • 6. Chapter 3 6 Explaining Crime Criminological Theory Most of what is done in criminal justice is based on criminological theory. Failure to understand these theories leads to: • Problems that undermine the success of the theories • Intrusion on people’s lives without good reason
  • 7. Chapter 3 7 Explaining Crime criminological theory The explanation of criminal behavior, as well as the behavior of police, attorneys, prosecutors, judges, correctional personnel, victims, and other actors in the criminal justice system.
  • 8. Chapter 3 8 Explaining Crime What is a theory? Why is it important to understand the various theories of criminal behavior? CRITICAL THINKING
  • 9. Chapter 3 9 Explaining Crime 3.2 Classical and Neoclassical Approaches to Explaining Crime The causes of crime have been the subject of much speculation, theorizing, research, and debate. Theories about the cause of crime are based on religion, philosophy, politics, economic, and social forces.
  • 10. Chapter 3 10 Explaining Crime Classical Theory One of the earliest secular approaches to explaining the causes of crime was the classical theory.
  • 11. Chapter 3 11 Explaining Crime classical theory A product of the Enlightenment, based on the assumption that people exercise free will and are thus completely responsible for their actions. In classical theory, human behavior, including criminal behavior, is motivated by a hedonistic rationality, in which actors weigh the potential pleasure of an action against the possible pain associated with it.
  • 12. Chapter 3 12 Explaining Crime Classical Theory In 1764, criminologist Cesare Beccaria wrote An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, which set forth classical criminological theory. He argued that the only justified rationale for laws and punishments was the principle of utility.
  • 13. Chapter 3 13 Explaining Crime utility The principle that a policy should provide “the greatest happiness shared by the greatest number.”
  • 14. Chapter 3 14 Explaining Crime Classical Theory Beccaria believed the basis of society, as well as the origin of punishments and the right to punish, is the social contract. The only legitimate purpose of punishment is special deterrence and general deterrence.
  • 15. Chapter 3 15 Explaining Crime special deterrence The prevention of individuals from committing crime again by punishing them. social contract An imaginary agreement to sacrifice the minimum amount of liberty to prevent anarchy and chaos. continued…
  • 16. Chapter 3 16 Explaining Crime general deterrence The prevention of people in general or society at large from engaging in crime by punishing specific individuals and making examples of them.
  • 17. Chapter 3 17 Explaining Crime Classical Theory Beccaria believed the best way to prevent and deter crime was to: • Enact laws that are clear, simple, and unbiased, and that reflect the consensus of the population. • Educate the public. • Eliminate corruption from the administration of justice. • Reward virtue.
  • 18. Chapter 3 18 Explaining Crime Classical Theory The main real-world drawbacks of Beccaria’s theory are: • Not all offenders are alike—juveniles are treated the same as adults. • Similar crimes are not always as similar as they might appear—first-time offenders are treated the same as repeat offenders.
  • 19. Chapter 3 19 Explaining Crime Neoclassical Theory Classical theory was difficult to apply in practice. It was modified in the early 1800s and became known as neoclassical theory.
  • 20. Chapter 3 20 Explaining Crime neoclassical theory A modification of classical theory in which it was conceded that certain factors, such as insanity, might inhibit the exercise of free will.
  • 21. Chapter 3 21 Explaining Crime Neoclassical Theory Neoclassical theory introduced the idea of: • Premeditation as a measure of the degree of free will. • Mitigating circumstances as legitimate grounds for diminished responsibility.
  • 22. Chapter 3 22 Explaining Crime Neoclassical Theory Classical and neoclassical theory are the basis of the criminal justice system in the United States.
  • 23. Chapter 3 23 Explaining Crime 1. Name four of the ways that classical criminologist Cesare Beccaria thought were best to prevent or deter crime. Do you agree with Beccaria? Why or why not? 2. What are the main differences between classical and neoclassical theories? CRITICAL THINKING
  • 24. Chapter 3 24 Explaining Crime 3.3 Positivist Approaches to Explaining Crime The theory of the positivist school of criminology grew out of positive philosophy and the logic and methodology of experimental science.
  • 25. Chapter 3 25 Explaining Crime The Positivist School of Thought The key assumptions of the positivist school of thought were: 1. Human behavior is determined and not a matter of free will. 2. Criminals are fundamentally different from noncriminals. 3. Social scientists can be objective in their work. 4. Crime is frequently caused by multiple factors. 5. Society is based on consensus, but not on a social contract.
  • 26. Chapter 3 26 Explaining Crime The Positivist School of Thought The problems with positivist assumptions are that they: 1. Account for too much crime. 2. Ignore the process by which behaviors are made illegal. 3. Assume that most people agree about most things most of the time. 4. Believe that action is determined by causes independent of a person’s free will. 5. Believe that social scientists will be objective in their work.
  • 27. Chapter 3 27 Explaining Crime Try to identify harmful or destructive behaviors that are not defined as crimes. Why do you think these behaviors are not defined as crimes? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 28. Chapter 3 28 Explaining Crime Biological Theories Biological theories of crime causation (biological positivism) are based on the belief that criminals are physiologically different from noncriminals. The cause of crime is biological inferiority.
  • 29. Chapter 3 29 Explaining Crime biological inferiority According to biological theories, a criminal’s innate physiological makeup produces certain physical or genetic characteristics that distinguish criminals from noncriminals.
  • 30. Chapter 3 30 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology Criminal anthropology is associated with the work of Cesare Lombroso, who published his theory of a physical criminal type in 1876. criminal anthropology The study of “criminal” human beings.
  • 31. Chapter 3 31 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology Lombroso’s theory consisted of the following propositions: 1. Criminals are, by birth, a distinct type. 2. That type can be recognized by physical characteristics, or stigmata, such as enormous jaws, high cheekbones, and insensitivity to pain. continued…
  • 32. Chapter 3 32 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology 3. The criminal type is clearly distinguished in a person with more than five stigmata, perhaps exists in a person with three to five stigmata, and does not necessarily exist in a person with fewer than three stigmata. 4. Physical stigmata do not cause crime; they only indicate an individual who is predisposed to crime. Such a person is either an atavist or a result of degeneration. continued…
  • 33. Chapter 3 33 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology 5. Because of their personal natures, such persons cannot desist from crime unless they experience very favorable lives. atavist A person who reverts to a savage type.
  • 34. Chapter 3 34 Explaining Crime Body-Type Theory Body-type theory is an extension of Lombroso’s criminal anthropology, developed by Ernst Kretchmer and later William Sheldon. It says that human beings can be divided into three basic body types, or somatotypes: 1. Endomorphic (soft, fat) 2. Mesomorphic (athletically built) 3. Ectomorphic (tall, skinny)
  • 35. Chapter 3 35 Explaining Crime Body-Type Theory Sheldon found that delinquents were more mesomorphic than nondelinquents, and serious delinquents were more mesomorphic than less severe delinquents. Sheldon did not consider that delinquents are more likely to be mesomorphic because, for example, mesomorphs are more likely to be selected for gang membership.
  • 36. Chapter 3 36 Explaining Crime Heredity Studies Several studies have attempted to determine if criminality is hereditary by studying: All of these methods fail to prove that criminality is hereditary, because they cannot separate hereditary influences from environmental influences. • family trees • statistics • identical and fraternal twins • adopted children
  • 37. Chapter 3 37 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology Ongoing research has revealed numerous biological factors associated either directly or indirectly with criminal or delinquent behavior: • chemical, mineral, and vitamin deficiencies in the diet • diets high in sugar and carbohydrates • hypoglycemia continued…
  • 38. Chapter 3 38 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology • ingestion of food dyes and lead • exposure to radiation • brain dysfunctions
  • 39. Chapter 3 39 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology The limbic system is a structure surrounding the brain stem that is believed to moderate expressions of violence.
  • 40. Chapter 3 40 Explaining Crime limbic system A structure surrounding the brain stem that, in part, controls the life functions of heartbeat, breathing, and sleep.
  • 41. Chapter 3 41 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology Violent criminal behavior has also been linked to disorders in other parts of the brain. Recent evidence suggests that chronic violent offenders have much higher levels of brain disorder than the general population.
  • 42. Chapter 3 42 Explaining Crime Brain Neurotransmitters Some criminal behaviors are believed to be influenced by low levels of brain neurotransmitters (the substances brain cells use to communicate). • Low levels of serotonin have been found in impulsive murderers and arsonists. • Norepinephrine may be associated with compulsive gambling.
  • 43. Chapter 3 43 Explaining Crime Hormones Criminal behaviors have also been associated with hormone abnormalities, especially those involving: • Testosterone (a male sex hormone) • Progesterone and estrogen (female sex hormones) Administering estrogen to male sex offenders has been found to reduce their sexual drives.
  • 44. Chapter 3 44 Explaining Crime What are the pros and cons of using chemical or physical castration on repeat sex offenders? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 45. Chapter 3 45 Explaining Crime Positivist Approaches Today, most criminologists believe that criminal behavior is the product of a complex interaction between biology and environmental or social conditions.
  • 46. Chapter 3 46 Explaining Crime Positivist Approaches Biology or genetics gives an individual a predisposition to behave in a certain way. Whether a person actually behaves in that way and whether that behavior is defined as a crime depend on environmental or social conditions.
  • 47. Chapter 3 47 Explaining Crime Psychological Theories There are many theories regarding psychological causes of crime, including: • Intelligence and crime • Psychoanalytic theories • Psychoanalysis • Humanistic psychological theory
  • 48. Chapter 3 48 Explaining Crime Intelligence and Crime The idea that crime is the product primarily of people of low intelligence has been popular occasionally in the United States. A study in 1931 showed no correlation between intelligence and criminality.
  • 49. Chapter 3 49 Explaining Crime Psychoanalytic Theories Psychoanalytic theories of crime causation are associated with the work of Sigmund Freud who believed that people who had unresolved deep-seated problems were psychopaths.
  • 50. Chapter 3 50 Explaining Crime psychopaths Persons characterized by no sense of guilt, no subjective conscience, and no sense of right and wrong. They have difficulty in forming relationships with other people; they cannot empathize with other people. They are also called sociopaths or antisocial personalities.
  • 51. Chapter 3 51 Explaining Crime Psychoanalysis The principal policy implication of considering crime symptomatic of deep- seated problems is to provide psychotherapy or psychoanalysis in order to resolve the symptoms associated with the problems.
  • 52. Chapter 3 52 Explaining Crime Psychoanalysis The problems with the idea that criminals are biologically or psychologically “sick” are: 1. The bulk of the research on the issue suggests that most criminals are no more disturbed than the rest of the population. 2. Many people with psychological disturbances do not commit crimes. continued…
  • 53. Chapter 3 53 Explaining Crime Psychoanalysis 3. Psychoanalytic theory ignores environmental circumstances. 4. Much of the theoretical structure of psychotherapy is scientifically untestable.
  • 54. Chapter 3 54 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Abraham Maslow and Seymour Halleck developed theories similar to Freud’s but based on the assumption that human beings are basically good.
  • 55. Chapter 3 55 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Maslow believed that human beings are motivated by five basic levels of needs, and that people choose crime because they cannot (or will not) satisfy their needs legally.
  • 56. Chapter 3 56 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Halleck views crime as one of several adaptations to the helplessness caused by oppression.
  • 57. Chapter 3 57 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Neither Maslow nor Halleck asks these basic questions: • Why can’t people satisfy their basic needs legally, or why do they choose not to? • Why don’t societies ensure that basic needs can be satisfied legally so that the choice to satisfy them illegally makes no sense? continued…
  • 58. Chapter 3 58 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory • Why does society oppress many people, and why aren’t more effective measures taken to greatly reduce that oppression?
  • 59. Chapter 3 59 Explaining Crime What formal and informal forms of coercion do you have to submit to? Do you think that such coercion can influence whether you might commit a crime? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 60. Chapter 3 60 Explaining Crime Sociological Theories Sociologists emphasize that human beings live in social groups and that those groups and the social structure they create influence behavior. Most sociological theories of crime causation assume that a criminal’s behavior is determined by his or her social environment and reject the notion of the born criminal.
  • 61. Chapter 3 61 Explaining Crime The Contributions of Durkheim Many sociological theories of crime causation stem from the work of Emile Durkheim who rejected the idea that the world is simply the product of individual actions. Social laws and institutions are “social facts” and all people can do is submit to them.
  • 62. Chapter 3 62 Explaining Crime The Contributions of Durkheim Durkheim argued that crime is also a social fact. The cause of crime is anomie. Crime is functional for society and marks the boundaries of morality. He advocated containing crime within reasonable boundaries.
  • 63. Chapter 3 63 Explaining Crime anomie For Durkheim, the dissociation of the individual from the collective conscience. collective conscience The general sense of morality of the times.
  • 64. Chapter 3 64 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School In the 1920s, a group of sociologists known as the Chicago School attempted to uncover the relationship between a neighborhood’s crime rate and the characteristics of the neighborhood.
  • 65. Chapter 3 65 Explaining Crime Chicago School A group of sociologists at the University of Chicago who assumed in their research that delinquent behavior was a product of social disorganization.
  • 66. Chapter 3 66 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School The Chicago School described American cities in ecological terms, saying growth occurs through a process of: Invasion: A cultural or ethnic group invades a territory. Domination: Succession: The group dominates that territory. The group is succeeded by another group and the cycle repeats itself.
  • 67. Chapter 3 67 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School Other studies found that neighborhoods that experienced high delinquency rates also experienced social disorganization.
  • 68. Chapter 3 68 Explaining Crime social disorganization The condition in which the usual controls over delinquents are largely absent, delinquent behavior is often approved of by parents and neighbors, there are many opportunities for delinquent behavior, and there is little encouragement, training, or opportunity for legitimate employment.
  • 69. Chapter 3 69 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School One of the problems with the theory of the Chicago School is the presumption that social disorganization is a cause of delinquency. Both social disorganization and delinquency may be the product of other, more basic factors.
  • 70. Chapter 3 70 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Robert Merton in 1938 wrote about a major contradiction in the U.S. between cultural goals and social structure. He called the contradiction anomie.
  • 71. Chapter 3 71 Explaining Crime anomie For Merton, the contradiction between the cultural goal of achieving wealth and the social structure’s inability to provide legitimate institutional means for achieving the goal.
  • 72. Chapter 3 72 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Merton argued that the limited availability of legitimate institutionalized means to wealth puts a strain on people. People adapt through: 1. Conformity—playing the game. 2. Innovation—pursuing wealth by illegitimate means. continued…
  • 73. Chapter 3 73 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory 3. Ritualism—not actively pursuing wealth. 4. Retreatism—dropping out. 5. Rebellion—rejecting the goal of wealth and the institutional means of getting it.
  • 74. Chapter 3 74 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory In the mid-1950s, Albert K. Cohen adapted Merton’s anomie or strain theory to explain gang delinquency. anomie For Cohen, it is caused by the inability of juveniles to achieve status among peers by socially acceptable means.
  • 75. Chapter 3 75 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Juveniles unable to achieve status through socially acceptable means either: • conform to middle-class values and resign themselves to their inferior status, or • rebel and establish their own value structures, then find others like themselves and form groups to validate and reinforce the new values.
  • 76. Chapter 3 76 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin further argued that the type of adaptation made by juvenile gang members depends on the illegitimate opportunity structure available to them. They identified three gang subcultures: continued…
  • 77. Chapter 3 77 Explaining Crime • Criminal—formed to make money. • Violent—formed to vent anger if they can’t make money. • Retreatist—formed by those who can’t join the other gangs, and become alcoholics and drug addicts. Anomie or Strain Theory
  • 78. Chapter 3 78 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Gabriel Tarde was one of the first theorists to believe that crime was something learned by normal people as they adapted to other people and the conditions of their environment. Writing in Penal Philosophy in 1890, Tarde viewed all social phenomena as the product of imitation or modeling.
  • 79. Chapter 3 79 Explaining Crime imitation or modeling A means by which a person can learn new responses by observing others without performing any overt act or receiving direct reinforcement or reward.
  • 80. Chapter 3 80 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Edwin H. Sutherland—in his theory of differential association—was the first 20th- century criminologist to argue that criminal behavior was learned. This theory, modified, remains one of the most influential theories of crime causation.
  • 81. Chapter 3 81 Explaining Crime differential association Sutherland’s theory that persons who become criminal do so because of contacts with criminal patterns and isolation from anticriminal patterns.
  • 82. Chapter 3 82 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Sutherland’s theory was modified by several researchers and became generally known as learning theory.
  • 83. Chapter 3 83 Explaining Crime learning theory A theory that explains criminal behavior and its prevention with the concepts of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, extinction, punishment, and modeling or imitation.
  • 84. Chapter 3 84 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Learning theory argues that people commit crimes because they get positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement.
  • 85. Chapter 3 85 Explaining Crime negative reinforcement The removal or reduction of a stimulus whose removal or reduction increases or maintains a response. positive reinforcement The presentation of a stimulus that increases or maintains a response.
  • 86. Chapter 3 86 Explaining Crime Learning Theories According to learning theory, criminal behavior is reduced, but not eliminated, through extinction or punishment.
  • 87. Chapter 3 87 Explaining Crime punishment The presentation of an aversive stimulus to reduce a response. extinction A process in which behavior that previously was positively reinforced is no longer reinforced.
  • 88. Chapter 3 88 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Among the policy implications of learning theory is to punish criminal behavior effectively, according to learning theory principles. This is not done effectively in the U.S. • Chances of a prisoner escaping are great. • Probation does not function as an aversive stimulus. • Most offenders are not incarcerated. continued…
  • 89. Chapter 3 89 Explaining Crime Learning Theories • Punishment is not consistent and immediate. • Offenders are generally returned to the environments in which their crimes were committed. • There is no positive reinforcement of alternative, prosocial behaviors.
  • 90. Chapter 3 90 Explaining Crime What are the pros and cons of returning released prisoners to their prior cities and neighborhoods? Do you think that government could prohibit released prisoners from returning to their prior locales? How would that work? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 91. Chapter 3 91 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories The key question in the social control theory is not why people commit crime and delinquency, but rather why don’t they? Why do people conform?
  • 92. Chapter 3 92 Explaining Crime social control theory A view in which people are expected to commit crime and delinquency unless they are prevented from doing so.
  • 93. Chapter 3 93 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories The most detailed elaboration of modern social control theory is attributed to Travis Hirschi who wrote the 1969 book, Causes of Delinquency.
  • 94. Chapter 3 94 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories Hirschi argued that delinquency should be expected if a juvenile is not properly socialized by establishing a strong bond to society, consisting of: 1. Attachment to others 2. Commitment to conventional lines of action 3. Involvement in conventional activities 4. Belief in the moral order and law
  • 95. Chapter 3 95 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories More recently, Hirschi wrote with Michael Gottfredson that the principal cause of deviant behaviors is ineffective child rearing, which produces people with low self-control.
  • 96. Chapter 3 96 Explaining Crime 1. What are the five key assumptions of the positivist school of thought? 2. How would you describe body-type theory? What is the major criticism of this theory? CRITICAL THINKING continued…
  • 97. Chapter 3 97 Explaining Crime 3. Explain psychoanalytic theory and some of the problems associated with it. 4. Explain learning theory. Do you think this theory has merit? CRITICAL THINKING
  • 98. Chapter 3 98 Explaining Crime 3.4 Critical Approaches to Explaining Crime Critical theories grew out of the changing social landscape of the American 1960s. Critical theories assume that human beings are the creators of institutions and structures that ultimately dominate and constrain them. Critical theories assume that society is characterized primarily by conflict over moral values.
  • 99. Chapter 3 99 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory The focus of labeling theory is the criminalization process rather than the positivist concern with the peculiarities of the criminal.
  • 100. Chapter 3 100 Explaining Crime criminalization process The way people and actions are defined as criminal. labeling theory A theory that emphasizes the criminalization process as the cause of some crime.
  • 101. Chapter 3 101 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory The labeling theory argues that once a person commits a first criminal act, they are labeled negatively as a criminal. The label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • 102. Chapter 3 102 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory A policy implication of labeling theory is simply not to label, through: • Decriminalization—The elimination of behaviors from the scope of criminal law. • Diversion—Removing offenders from the criminal justice process. continued…
  • 103. Chapter 3 103 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory • Greater due-process protections—Replacing discretion with the rule of law. • Deinstitutionalization—Reducing jail and prison populations.
  • 104. Chapter 3 104 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory An alternative policy is reintegrative shaming: • Disappointment is expressed for the offender’s actions. • The offender is shamed and punished. • Then the community makes a concerted effort to reintegrate the offender back into society.
  • 105. Chapter 3 105 Explaining Crime MYTH FACT Most offenders resist being labeled criminal and accept the label only when they are no longer capable of fighting it. In some communities the label criminal, or some variation of it, is actively sought.
  • 106. Chapter 3 106 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory Conflict theory focuses on the conflict in society between rich and poor, management and labor, whites and minorities.
  • 107. Chapter 3 107 Explaining Crime conflict theory A theory that assumes that society is based primarily on conflict between competing interest groups and that criminal law and the criminal justice system are used to control subordinate groups. Crime is caused by relative powerlessness.
  • 108. Chapter 3 108 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory According to conflict theory, criminal law and the criminal justice system are used by dominant groups to control subordinate ones.
  • 109. Chapter 3 109 Explaining Crime All behavior occurs because people act in ways consistent with their social positions. Subordinate groups appear in official criminal statistics more frequently because dominant groups have control over the definition of criminality. Conflict Theory
  • 110. Chapter 3 110 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory The amount of crime in a society is a function of the extent of conflict generated by power differentials. Crime is caused by relative powerlessness.
  • 111. Chapter 3 111 Explaining Crime relative powerlessness The inability to dominate other groups in society. power differentials The ability of some groups to dominate other groups in a society.
  • 112. Chapter 3 112 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory Policy implications of conflict theory are: • To redistribute power and wealth through a more progressive tax system or limitation of political contributions. • For dominant group members to become more effective rulers and subordinate group members better subjects.
  • 113. Chapter 3 113 Explaining Crime Radical Theory Radical theories argue that capitalism requires people to compete against each other in the pursuit of material wealth. The more unevenly wealth is distributed, the more likely people are to find persons weaker than themselves that they can take advantage of in their pursuit of wealth.
  • 114. Chapter 3 114 Explaining Crime radical theories Theories of crime causation that are generally based on a Marxist theory of class struggle.
  • 115. Chapter 3 115 Explaining Crime Radical Theory Radical theory defines crime as a violation of human rights. Under a radical definition of crime: • prostitution • gambling • drug use would not be crimes. • racism • sexism • imperialism would be crimes.
  • 116. Chapter 3 116 Explaining Crime JUSTICE ISSUE Do you accept the radical definition of crime as a violation of politically defined rights to decent food and shelter, human dignity, and self-determination? Do you prefer the traditional legal definition of crime as a violation of the criminal law, committed without defense or excuse and penalized by the state?
  • 117. Chapter 3 117 Explaining Crime Radical Theory The policy implications of radical theory include: • Demonstrating that the current definition of crime supports the ruling class. • Redefining crime as a violation of human rights. • Creation of a benevolent socialist society in which the economy is regulated to promote public welfare.
  • 118. Chapter 3 118 Explaining Crime Radical Theory Criticisms of radical theory include: • The radical definition of crime as a violation of human rights is too broad and vague. • The adherents of radical theory are pursuing a political agenda. • Its causal model is wrong. • It has not been tested satisfactorily and it cannot be tested satisfactorily.
  • 119. Chapter 3 119 Explaining Crime Other Critical Theories New critical theories of crime causation include: • British or left realism • Peacemaking criminology • Feminist theory • Postmodernism
  • 120. Chapter 3 120 Explaining Crime British or Left Realism Many critical criminologists focus on crimes committed by the powerful. In the mid-1980s a group of social scientists in Great Britain, known as left realists, began focusing on crime by and against the working class. Left realists want to give more power to police to combat crime, but also want to make the police more accountable for their actions.
  • 121. Chapter 3 121 Explaining Crime left realists A group of social scientists who argue that critical criminologists need to redirect their attention to the fear and the very real victimization experienced by working-class people.
  • 122. Chapter 3 122 Explaining Crime Peacemaking Criminology Peacemaking criminology is a mixture of anarchism, humanism, socialism, and Native American and Eastern philosophies that rejects the idea that criminal violence can be reduced by state violence. Peacemaking criminologists believe that reducing suffering will reduce crime.
  • 123. Chapter 3 123 Explaining Crime peacemaking criminology An approach that suggests that the solution to all social problems, including crime, is the transformation of human beings, mutual dependence, reduction of class structures, the creation of communities of caring people, and universal social justice.
  • 124. Chapter 3 124 Explaining Crime Feminist Theory Feminist theory looks at crime from a feminine perspective. The focus is on three areas of crime and justice: • The victimization of women • Gender differences in crime • Gendered justice (differing treatment of female and male offenders and victims by the criminal justice system)
  • 125. Chapter 3 125 Explaining Crime feminist theory A group of social scientists who argue that critical criminologists need to redirect their attention to the fear and the very real victimization experienced by working-class people.
  • 126. Chapter 3 126 Explaining Crime Feminist Theory The principal goal of most feminist theory is to abolish patriarchy by ensuring women equal opportunity and equal rights. Criticisms of feminist theory include: • The failure to appreciate differences between women • A contradictory position regarding police
  • 127. Chapter 3 127 Explaining Crime patriarchy Men’s control over women’s labor and sexuality.
  • 128. Chapter 3 128 Explaining Crime Postmodernism Postmodernism grew out of the 1960s as a rejection of the Enlightenment belief in scientific rationality as the route to knowledge and progress.
  • 129. Chapter 3 129 Explaining Crime postmodernism An area of critical thought which, among other things, attempts to understand the creation of knowledge, and how knowledge and language create hierarchy and domination.
  • 130. Chapter 3 130 Explaining Crime Postmodernism Postmodernist criminologists argue that interpretations of the law are dependent on the particular social context in which they arise. They would change the criminal justice apparatus with informal social controls.
  • 131. Chapter 3 131 Explaining Crime 1. How would you explain labeling theory? 2. What is peacemaking criminology? Is this theory realistic? 3. Explain feminist theory and its key criticisms. CRITICAL THINKING
  • 132. Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States End of Chapter 3