An Analysis Of Criminal Theory Criminology Essay


In criminology, learning theories argue that criminality is influenced by agents of socialization, these are such are the influences that experiences and encounters with a person's family, peers, teachers, authoritative people, and churches etc most of which influence behavior. Due to the interaction between people they are referred to as social learning theories, criminology is mainly concerned with expounding the social process that result in the crime rather than the psychological determinants. The social learning theory was developed by a psychologist, Bandera. Bandera prepared the stimulus control principles by delineating phases of modeling and initiated the sensational learning as well. Bandura's work was an expansion of previous work by Dollard and Miller. In general social learning theory incorporates cognitive and social learning (O'Connor, 2006).

Sutherland in his book, criminology published in 1924, put forth the Differential Association Theory (DA) which he developed following his the fields of expert larceny and white collar crime; these two crimes led him into believing that if a person associates with criminals and is not one himself, he is likely to become a criminal at any point so long as he maintains the relationship with them. DA relates to gangland and upper world crimes as well as adult and youthful crimes; DA theory utilizes the functionality of ideas on criminal behavior (Warr, 2003).

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In the late 60s, the DA theory ideology was dropped and Akers' Differential Reinforcement Theory was adopted as it held that non-socialization agents such as the effects of drug abuse could be causative agents of crime; it therefore included the psychological doctrines unlike DA. In the reinforcement theory people who associate with deviant peers are indoctrinated and become more likely to become deviant. The deviance is reinforced. Criminals study how to obtain rewards and shun chastisement by referring to the real or expected outcomes of their crimes; such outcomes are therefore psychological fortifications which encourage criminals to persistently indulge in criminality (Burgess, 2008). Differential Reinforcement relates to crimes of solitary.

The crimes that are explained by the learning theories are such as solitary, white collar crimes, money laundering, gabbling, they however don't look into crimes such as sex crimes and murder.

Symbolic interaction theory

The SI theory is explains the association between human and society. Basically it is how humans react and interact to what surrounds them; this can be best understood through the symbols of communication or communication exchange. The key elements of SI are; humans tend to react to different things based on the meanings they hold to them, the meaning that the things hold arises from the interaction amongst people the final element is the resultant action derived from a line of actions. Sutherland's DA theory relies on SI since according to his theory, typically people are defined by who they associate with; which is what SI explains (Goffman, 2008).

SI explains deviance and crimes, wherein the individuals know from different cultures have certain norms to observe which they try as much not to violate them; unemployment has been on the rise in the recent past; many youths are therefore faced with financial crisis and are thus forced into crimes and deviance as a way to react to unemployment and also as a result of desperation (Goffman, 2008).

Post-modernism like SI put much emphasis on language and symbols.

Matza's Neutralization Theory

This theory by Nye and Matza expresses stakes in conformity. The neutralization theory holds that people are completely bad or completely good, even the criminals admire people some law enforcing persons who are honest, besides they are not always involved in crime and change from one behavior to another for various reasons. This theory is used to explain petty crimes.

Stake of conformity as illustrated in the work of Nye and Matza, is the conflict of conventionalism wherein values drift from time to time subjected by certain factors. Control theorists explain human behavior using natural laws which are on the basis of the values that people hold and perceive to be right.

Deterrence theory

Formulated during the cold war, deterrence theory is a strategy that was used by the military. Basically it refers to a situation whereby two parties who are about to be involved to be involved in a conflict; as a result of this one party threatens to attacks their antagonists with an equal or greater magnitude.

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Deterrence has been tested in the recent past in the rivalry of US and Iran during the Iraq-Iran War and finally in the murder of Osama by the US who propagated many terrorist bombings and Al- Qaeda the group he led is now threatening to revenge against his death. The rational choice models have continually encouraged contemporary classists in criminology because deterrence is common to all criminality. The critics against deterrence have continually discouraged the classicists since it assumes both parties have similar motivate goals adversary foundations (Wirtz et. al, 2009).

Karl Marx's approach to social theory

Karl Marx formulated the Marxian theory, a collective socio-political theory on politics, economics and society. Marxian theory maintains that the society develops through the dialectic of class struggle; Marxism focuses on the materialist elucidation of history. Marx analyzed material conditions which is basically the fiscal actions one needs to indulge in to provide for his material needs. It is from the materialistic organization form the basis for social relationships, political systems, thoughts, morals and norms. Marx noted that as technology progresses as a result of production joblessness also arguments because most of it seeks to face out employment. Marxism observed that social change is as a result of the class struggle. The bourgeoisie who are the minority own the modes of production such as technology, the others are the proletariat who are the majority and provide services and goods. As a result of the conflict in which the proletariats are oppressed capitalism is borne which yields into the proletarian revolution (Howard, 2002).

The Marxian theory are related to the criminal theories such as the Differential reinforcement whereby a person may not initially want to be a criminal but is forced to shoplift to meet a certain material that he has. These theories are useful in today's world since they help to elaborate on criminal behavior, through the social and economic aspects as agents of socialization. The theories may seem out of date because when they were formulated there may have been limited technological advancements but the basics are the same, since they relate to the human's association with the society.

Durkheim's approach

Durkheim explained social control in his religion theory by comparing the socio-cultural lives of native and contemporary societies. The Social Ecologists from the Chicago School explain social control in the approach that it is influenced by personal behavior as determined social structures and physio-environmental effects as opposed to inherent and individual distinctiveness.

Collective efficacy is a model that captures the link between shared reliance and joint outlook for action, collective efficacy is important because it helps to shun crime in neighborhood; also in gang of criminals collective helps to accomplish their criminal missions with much success (Sampson, 2004).

As a theorist using Differential association and neutralization theory would help understand deviant, delinquent, and criminal behavior, DA emphasizes how peers can influence their peers into crime through their interaction. In the neutralization theory; people have drifts in their behaviors and conflict of conventionalism this well explains criminal behaviors as not everyone is too bad or too good and thus anyone can be a criminal. To explain these concepts a research can be conducted in a group of defiant, impish students in a school. It will be evident that a few members in the group are in the group because of their friends, and as a result their behaviors have drifted.

Cheating of taxes can be explained using Marxism theory where people would want to keep more money to meet their material needs. Since most of them are in the proletariat class feel deprived and at all cost will evade and avoid taxes. Domestic battery can be explained by the individual's culture; some cultures allow battery as a form of instilling discipline. In other cases it can be explained by the deterrence or a result of influence from peers who indulge in domestic battery (Deflem, 2006).