Examining The Theories And Understanding Criminal Behaviour Criminology Essay

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Criminologists have concentrated on the development of theories that attempt to explain and aims to give us a better understanding of a specific crime or criminal behaviour. Therefore, in the study of theories we have come across with diversity theories that help us to explain and understand a certain criminal behaviour such as violence by men. Although, it is imperative to understand that theories can overlap with one another; as Criminologist Robert Agnew argues, "I have never been able to provide an answer that is clear and concise on the one hand, but reasonably complete on the other" (Helfgott, 2008, P. 8) it is also important to acknowledge that there have been general theories that provide answers towards why a specific criminal behaviour is presented, why a crime is committed and ultimately how to prevent it.

Therefore, criminal behaviour such as violence is not something new within our society in fact, as Durkheim stated crime is a normal occurrence. Consequently, violence has been a well known factor for men to commit certain or specific crimes due to that violence by and in men can be an insatiable desire and in some cases acceptable in society, in other words as Merton stated "the desires of individuals are largely defined by society" (Wlliams, 2006, P. 350).

Additionally, the Australian Berau of Statistics explains that; "violence in society takes many forms. Men, women and children can all be victims as well as perpetrators of violence. Also, the nature and prevalence of violence experienced by different groups is known to differ, depending on age, gender, the closeness of the relationship between perpetrators and victim, and whether it occurs in private or public dominions. However, governments and community service groups have in recent years given increasing attention to the development of laws, policies and programs designed to assist women subjected to physical and sexual and to minimise the level of violence against women" due to that violence by men has become more prominent in the last century.

Moreover, "violence is by long way that of which causes the most severe public reaction" (Wolfang, 1967, p. 187), therefore, sociologists have concentrated to explain why men are violent and why this criminal behaviour has become increasingly more common in the last decade. Some can argue that they have acquired this attitude to reflect their own self -steam or to manipulate the other party; whilst others can argue that they are more violent because of the culture and ethnicity group were they come from and place and people who surrender them.

Both arguments are at some point correct, although before we can attempt to explain why men are violent it is imperative to understand that, violence lead to crime. In Australia for instance, statistics show that there has been a significant increase in crime and especially in violence by men; consequently, criminologist, police, justice and the law have been paying more attention to this criminal behaviour which as a result affects our society and future generations.

However, these type of criminal behaviour "cannot be explained as solely the product of individual psychopathology or faulty communication" (Koss, 1994, p.22) but instead it can be explained by different theories that have given us a wider and clear understanding of why this criminal behaviour is presented.

Therefore, like all human behaviour and especially criminal behaviour must also be view in terms of the cultural context which is what the Subculture of Violence Theory aims to do. The Subculture of Violence Theory is an example of a cultural theory that "emphasises on the values and norms that promote violence and how violence is transmitted from one generation to the next" (Goldsmith, 2003, P. 171), taking into account that individuals are, "after all, culture -carriers who both reflect and transmit through social learning, the attitudes, ideals and ideas of their cultures" (Wolfgang, 1967, P. 103).

For instance, in trying to explain and understand the Colombian Violencia, Wolfgang stated that, children who had seen their parents murdered and killed by the Guerrila, they grow up with an "ever present feeling of menace, fear and death" and a desire for revenge. Therefore these children in the future will be more prompt to commit crimes and be violent towards society as such and will lack empathy to any of their future victims, as seen with many other groups within the Colombian society. In other words for this children concerned, "certain activities were correct by the standard of the subculture simply because they were wrong by the norms of the general culture" (Williams, 2008, p. 362)

Moreover, the subculture theory also argues that, "more violence by men occurs in lower class subcultures as a result of particular norms, values, attitudes, expectations and behaviours. Values such as honour, masculinity, defence of status, and the use of physical violence to settle disputes define subcultures of violence" (Helfgott, 2008, P. 72). That is to say, that some violent crimes committed by men are more severe in third world countries than those in Western societies, because of the economic inequality that is presented in third world countries, due to that, "unemployment and poverty do cause crimes" (Vold, 2002, P. 89) and therefore, "poverty and wealth are correlated with the incident of common crime, not only theft but crimes against the person as well" (Vold, 2002, P. 130) which are more related to men who wants to provide for their families.

This inequality between poor and rich has created another problem, that is, the absence of a father when the father is locked behind bars due to breaching the law and consequently, these children grow without a male figure and therefore they will involve and engage within other social groups such as gangs. Criminologist Walter Miller states that, lower class boys who look outside for a father role model often find them in the street gangs, due to that gangs groups tend to offer young males a sense of belonging, and through their commitment to the rules of the gang and status, young males will ultimately lift up their self stem and masculinity honour.

However, we cannot leave aside another reason for boys to engage to criminal gangs groups. Cohen stated that, boys who engage in negative and malicious behaviour is also a reaction against school and middle class standard values due to that lower class males often desires a males middle class success; that is to say, that lower class males have dreams and desires beyond their expectations and because of that they have a sense of revenge towards the middles class and their opportunity to success.

This type of social disorganisation, make groups and individuals to become isolated in which most likely, these individuals and groups are likely "to choose inappropriate solutions to their problems" (Williams, 2008, P. 326) and more likely to be involve in a criminal act.

Additionally, The Australian National Crime prevention (1999) "sees poverty as being close related to high crime rates and thus accepting that there is a higher risk of criminality by and against the poor" (Williams, 2008, P. 327), which is one of the explanations of why men that belong to a lower class get engaged to a violent crime, so that they can survive. This problem can also be linked to a historical fact such as a bad distribution of wealth.

Consequently, through several studies the subculture theory has linked violence by men with lower class, identifying the problem of violence by men not only in Australia but also Canada and the USA to mentioned a few.

Moreover, the subculture theory also focuses on the conflict between cultures, taking into account that every culture has different norms, values, identity, beliefs and characteristics. Therefore when two cultures come together there will be always conflict, that is to say that "cultural conflict exists between different subcultures and those whose values conflict with the dominant culture. When a subculture conflicts with dominant culture, the norms, values and behaviours of that subculture are deemed deviant or criminal" (Helfgott, 2008, P.72).

Additionally, some subcultures have norms, attitudes, values that allow the use of physical violence within a relationship. For instance, cultures supporting patriarchal dominance are more likely to experience crime in the home than those cultures who belief in equality, Cultures such as Islamic tend to experience more violence by men than a western culture.

Therefore, in the case of intimate violence by men, for some cultures such as the one mentioned above, it is totally normal for a men to physically abuse their wives, this is due to that, this criminal behaviour is normal for that culture and goes accordantly to the cultures set of ideas, values and attitudes. In this sense I would have to agree with Matzas statement "here the individual is free to experience or be allowed or choose delinquency as it is not totally rejected "(Williams, 2008. P. 373)

Though, it is imperative to understand that violence by men is seen and experienced in every country, every culture regardless. Contrary to some other cultures, western societies would disagree due to that this type of criminal behaviour goes against all kind of human rights and in fact, western societies see violence by men as a serious crime.

Additionally, street violence by men is viewed as a product of ethos of masculinity or also known as machismo in some South American cultures which are more characteristic of lower class society as mentioned above and therefore, sociologist have linked these to a specific subculture from the culture.

Also, the subculture theory explains how male youth violence is also connected to the new technology and how society and different cultures are influenced by it. That is to say, that third world countries families may not have sufficient money to buy violent video games and violent movies and therefore male youth belonging to such countries are less likely to become violent, whilst western societies tend to live in a society were younger generations spend all their time playing aggressive video games, watch violent movies, television programs which feeds their masculinity to become violent and show their power by a violent act such as fighting in a night club, physically abuse their partner, rape, murder, homicide to mentioned a few.

Consequently, as Robert Stacy Mccain in Insight magazine 2012 argues "When children watch graphic violence in movies and TV shows and also play realistic, violent games, it breaks down their natural resistance to killing", therefore these children will become violent and most likely acquire a violent criminal behaviour, because as already mentioned previously, this children will grown with an inner desire to show their masculinity.

Additionally, the subculture theory has helped police, sociologist and criminologist to acknowledge the existence of groups who can pass on traditions of criminal behaviour, taking into account that, "a subculture is a normative system of some group or groups smaller than the whole society" (Wolfgang, 1967, P. 103).

That is to say, that physical violence often becomes a learning habit and a subculture respond to certain stimuli that can also be learnt. Consequently, males who have grown in a violent home are more likely to do the same when they have their own house, although the subculture theory is also aware that they are some exceptions to this rule. In other words, Subculture theory acknowledge that there are some exceptions, some males that have experienced physical abuse when they were children, when they are adults they do not become violent however, it is imperative to understand that, violence is a respond to certain stimuli, norm or value of a specific culture and subculture as mentioned previously..

Consequently, there has been a study that indicates that, "engaging in criminal behaviour can be understood in terms of men developing a particular sense of self, or masculinity" (Palmer, 2005, Topic 3, P. 3). That is to say, that some crimes are linked to specific ethnic and race groups; for instance, "Cunneen and White (1995) suggest that car theft a crime overwhelming committed by men is linked to the place of motor vehicles in men´s lives, as symbolic objects of masculine power, linked to fantasies of material and sexual domination and success as powerful cultural symbols which define what it is to be a man" (Goldsmith, 203, P. 112)

However, it is imperative to understand that violence by men - violence behaviour committed by males is seen as a result of social forces or individual disposition and this criminal behaviour is a result of a disorganisation of the society and dysfunctional response to the pressure or demands of a situation or a result of a breakdown within the community.

Finally, although the subculture theory aimed to explain and give us a wider understanding of violence by man, it does not give us a solution to the problem, but instead, this research have helped criminologist, governments, law and justice to try to prevent this type of criminal behaviour by localizing a potential social group linked to a specific violent crime and place known also as the hot spots. The subculture theory therefore is the one of the best "single predictor routinely available to the police in the absence of specific intelligence" (Williams, 2008, P. 315)

Word Count: 2.196

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