Examining Criminologists And Other Social Scientists Criminology Essay

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Over the years, criminologists and other social scientists have attempted to develop explanations for why people engage in criminal activity. Criminologists and other social scientists have come up with theories that attempt to explain why people engage in criminal activity. These theories attempt to explain correlations of different variables. These variables include criminal activity and drug use, gang violence and peer pressure, and antisocial behavior and a lack of family support and stability. These different theories attempt to explain the correlation between the different variables. Over time, these theories have evolved, with some of these rejecting other theories. Classical theories assert that individual have free will to decide if they are going to be involved in criminal activity or not. Biological theories assert that people begin committing crime based of internal or biological factors, which includes sociobiology. Psychological and sociological theories use factors related to a person's mind and social interactions to attempt to explain why people become involved with crime.

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Classical theories assert that individual have free will to decide if they are going to be involved in criminal activity or not. The classical theories' principles were rooted in Christianity. The classical school origin came from title "On Crimes and Punishments" by Cesare Beccaria. This theory states that people commit crimes for personal need or greed. Under classical theories, criminal sanctions can control criminal activity, with the sanctions being equal to the person guilt. The classical school believes that people are rational and practice free will. At the opposite end is determinism, which asserts that a specific variable, factor, or event can determine a person's involvement in crime. Free will is rejected by the theory of determinism, but instead relies on variables, factors, or events to cause people to act and behave in the manner that they do. Under the classical school, retribution and deterrence are the primary purposes of punishment. Hedonism asserts that a person pursuing pleasure was a controlling factor for their personal and social actions. Hedonism was promoted by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in his book "An Introduction to the Principles of Moral Legislation". A principle belief of hedonism is that people seek pleasure and try to avoid pain. Bentham believed that the goal of punishment was to deter crime, and the punishment should be enough to outweigh any potential pleasure that may come about from it. He believed that a people would not become involved in criminal activity, because of potential punishment would outweigh the potential pleasure that could be obtained from the criminal activity. Offenders who are persistent would require punishments that were adjusted based on the severity of their crimes.

Biological theories assert that people begin committing crime based of internal or biological factors, which includes sociobiology. Principles of determinism are seen in biological theories. Theories of determinism attempt to relate criminal activity with biological, biochemical, or genetic foundations as a direct and causal relationship. Biological determinism was promoted by Cesare Lombroso. Biological determinism asserts that criminal behavior is based on physiological factors. With biological determinism it is believed that factors such as inheritance, genes, foods, and hormones play a role in determining a person's behavior. Lombroso believed that criminal behavior was inherited from one generation to another. Lombroso also argued that certain physical characteristics could help predict if a person will be involved in criminality. Lombroso thought of criminals did not evolve like other human beings. Positivism grew out of the views of Lombrosco. With positivism, the scientific method is used asserts that human behavior is a result of biological, psychological, social, or economic factors. Positivism also reject free will and choice. Criminal behavior was believed to be the result of biochemical and genetic factors that are specific to the different criminal type. Lombroso found certain physical characteristics that he believed predicted certain criminal behavior. The physical characteristics included excessive body and facial hair, sloping foreheads, large earlobes, compressed jaws, and long slender fingers. Lombroso later changed his beliefs on the relationship between genetics and criminal behavior, based on studies that were conducted that showed little relationship between criminal behavior and physical features. William Sheldon came up with three categories of body types that suggested certain kinds of criminal characteristics. The three categories that were defined by Sheldon were mesomorphs, ectomorphs, and endomorphs. Mesomorphs were defined as athletic and strong persons. Ectomorphs were defined as thin and submissive person. Mesomorphs were defined as fat individuals. According to Sheldon, mesomorphs were believed to be one that suggested criminal behavior.

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The XYY theory argues that abnormalities of the chromosomes cause violence and criminal activity. Under the XYY theory, the X chromosome is said to be female characteristics and is seen as passive in nature. The Y chromosome is said to be male characteristics and is seen as aggressive in nature. According to the XYY theory, An XX combination of chromosomes would yield a female. An XY combination would yield a male. With the XYY theory, it is believed that an additional Y chromosome of those who possess it. Recently, biological and physical factors such as mental illness, low IQ, feeble mindlessness, physical deformaties may lead to a person being involved in criminal activity.

Psychological theories focus on individuals' learning process. The learning process is the way that individuals gain self-definitions, language, and their definition of other people. The psychoanalytic theory and social learning theory are two examples of psychological theories. The psychoanalytic theory is based on the works of Sigmund Freud. The psychoanalytic theory asserts the experience of a person's early childhood affects their adult behavior. With the psychoanalytic theory, a person's personality is formed through various stages throughout their childhood. The stages are id, ego, and superego. The id is the first stage of the psychoanalytic theory, and it is seen in infants, and it is described as "I want". At this stage there is a need for instant gratification. At this stage, there is little concern for others. When the infant matures to a young child, the ego suppresses the id to a certain degree. At the ego stage, the child starts to recognize the needs and interests of others. At the superego stage, the development of higher level morals occurs. The superego is illustrated when a young person feels guilty about possibly depriving other people of something wrongfully. The psychoanalytic theory asserts that criminal behavior may be the result a lack of ego and superego development. If the id is dominant, then a person may focus their activities that allow them to carry out their needs. Traumatic events may hinder the development of sufficient ego and superego.

The social learning theory focuses on the learning that young people obtains from significant others in their life. The social learning theory asserts that usually learn to do things that they see the significant others in their life do. Children can learn negative behaviors such violence from their parents. Learning disabilities can prohibit making proper social adjustments. Learning disabilities also may make it more difficult for a young person to make proper decisions on peer relationships.

Sociological theories assert that social factors affect a person involvement in crime. Sociological theories include the concentric zone hypothesis, the subculture theory of delinquency, anomie theory of delinquency, labeling theory, bonding theory, general strain theory. The concentric zone hypothesis was based on the studies of Ernest W. Burgess and Robert E. Park. The concentric zone hypothesis proposes that a series of rings goes outward from the center of cities. These series of rings form different form zones that have differing socioeconomic conditions and demographic conditions. Certain areas have high rate of juvenile delinquency and crime. Chicago was used in the study, and it was found that the rates of delinquency and crime were highest in the ring closest to the inner core of the city. This ring was known as the zone of transition. Studies conducted over 30 years on the zone of transition by Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay in1972 found that delinquency was widespread. Inside this zone, families lacked stability, with both parents working long hours in factories. The zones of transitions were usually more crowded than other zones, with most residents being of a lower economic status. Shaw and McKay used the lack of family unity and widespread social disorganization to explain the high levels of delinquency in the zones of transition. The work of Shaw and McCray has been credited with diverting causes of delinquency from a biological nature to a sociological nature. Several studies have found that there is a correlation between higher levels of violence and lower socioeconomic status. Wolfgang and Ferracuti found that violent conduct occurred more frequently among youth from lower economic statuses. Liberman, Raudenbush, and Sampson found that youths from higher socioeconomic statuses were less violent and involved less frequently with violence that youth from lower socioeconomic statuses.

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The subculture theory of delinquency was introduced by Albert Cohen. The subculture theory of delinquency proposes there is a subculture where violence is used in certain social situations and it seen as normal by the people of the subculture. According to Davies and Pearson, the subculture has different value systems than that of the main culture. Based on subculture theory of delinquency, youth from lower socioeconomic statuses have different aspirations than those of youth from higher socioeconomic statuses. According to Cohen, delinquency is not a result of being from a lower socioeconomic status, but youth from lower are at a higher risk of seeking the rewards and opportunities of the subculture of delinquency than youth from higher socioeconomic statuses. Based on the research of Wolfgang and Ferracuti, there appeared to be a higher proportion of male from lower socioeconomic statuses and having less education in the subculture of delinquency. Violence was seen to a certain degree to be a value of the subculture. Using the principle of the subculture theory of delinquency, one can say that if violence is acceptable and respectable, then it becomes a normal part of the subculture.

The Anomie theory was introduced by Robert Merton and influenced by Emile Durkeim. According to the Anomie theory, people acquire desires for work to achieve goals that are culturally approved, and their means of achieving their goals may be adapted to innovative, sometimes deviant ways to achieving them. An example of this would be a person who desires a certain car, but doesn't have the financial means to purchase one. The person carjacks another person driving the desired vehicle, and takes the vehicle by forcible means. In the context of this theory, anomie refers to a person experiencing a sense of hopelessness or helplessness. According to Merton, individuals may show five possible modes of adaption, which are conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Conformity occurs when an individual accepts the society's goal and attempts to achieve them in a manner accepted by society. Innovation occurs when an individual accepts society's goals, but find other ways to achieve those goals that a different from the way of the society. Ritualism occurs when goals are rejected, but the individual attempt to achieve smaller goals in an institutionally approved manner. Retreatism occurs when occurs when an individual both reject society's goals and the means to achieve them. Rebellion when culturally accepted goals and means are replaced with new goals and means meant for others to follow.

The labeling theory suggests that people see themselves criminals based on labels that others associate with them. The label theory argues that the more a person is involved with the criminal justice system the more they will define themselves with the label of being a criminal. The principle of labeling emphasizes labels placed onto the person, rather than act itself.

The bonding theory is based on the works of Travis Hirschi. Suggest that criminal behavior is the result of an individual detaching themselves from the bonds of society. The bonding theory asserts that asserts that the stronger the bond a young person has with positive adult figures in their life, the less likely that the young person will be involved in delinquency. Hirschi identified several bonding dimensions, which are attachment, commitment. belief, and involvement. Attachment refers the bondage with those people that the youth thinks highly of. Commitment refers to level of energy put out by the young person to the relationship. The belief dimension refers moral feeling of the correctness of their involvement. The involvement dimension refers to how intense the bond between the youth and the people engaging in normal behavior is.

The strain theory argues that criminal behavior is caused by frustration that exists between culturally accepted goals and legal means of achieving the goals. This is seen when young people from lower socioeconomic statues adopt goal and aspirations of the middle, but because of their economic and social background they are difficult to obtain. The frustration of the young person in not being able to obtain their goal and aspirations may cause them to turn to criminal activity to achieve them. With the strain theory criminal behavior isn't learned, but instead is seen as force on by a young person frustration with not being able to achieve their goals by legal means.

Over the years, criminologists and other social scientists have attempted to develop explanations for why people engage in criminal activity. Criminologists and other social scientists have come up with theories that attempt to explain why people engage in criminal activity. These theories attempt to explain correlations of different variables. These variables include criminal activity and drug use, gang violence and peer pressure, and antisocial behavior and a lack of family support and stability. These different theories attempt to explain the correlation between the different variables. Over time, these theories have evolved, with some of these rejecting other theories. Classical theories assert that individual have free will to decide if they are going to be involved in criminal activity or not. Biological theories assert that people begin committing crime based of internal or biological factors, which includes sociobiology. Psychological and sociological theories use factors related to a person's mind and social interactions to attempt to explain why people become involved with crime.