Exploring Theories And Models On Criminology Criminology Essay

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The early classical, biological and psychological theories regarding the criminology all had a consensus model of the society which was indeed conservative and attributed the cause of crime to be lack of fear of deterrence, anomalies in the defective structure of individuals prone to commit crime or the psyches.

1.1 Classical Theory

The basic reason for a crime to happen is when the benefits of doing it outweigh the cost of it. It results when people carry out to accomplish their self interest in the absence of effective publishments. This school of thought owes its origin to utilitarian concepts of free will and doing well for the greatest number. It builds itself upon the concept that before a crime is committed, the individual weighs its pros and cons. Hence if a individual decides to commit a crime, it is a rationale decision, taken after a analysis, and is explained through a deterrence based system.

Rational choice deterrence: Crime is a rational choice and is influenced by its costs and benefits. It explains that the act of crime will be deterred if the cost incurred in carrying out the crime is more. The information about costs and benefits of crime is assimilated by the individual based on his direct experiences with the punitive process and its avoidance and sometimes indirectly through the experiences of the known people when they undergo same experience. Beccaria was the person who put forward the classical theory and its core principle of rational choice deterrence was developed by Stafford & Warr Paternoster along with Cornish & Clark Matesueda. Deterrence theory involves the use of 3 elements of deterrence namely certainty, severity and celebrity which yields the right kind of punishment through which crime can be controlled. The key principle of deterrence later became the basic underlying stone of US judicial system.

Rational choice Theory: The basic rationale which drives a criminal is the expected reward for committing a crime along with its allied benefits. Politicians use this theory to blame individuals rather than society for crime problems prevailing in the society.

Key Highlights of classical theory:

Classical school of criminology is built on the concept of free will.

It is centered on choice and people themselves decide to commit criminal acts.

1.2 Biological Theory of criminology

Biological theory attributes defect in the individual (biological or genetic) as the reason behind criminal behavior. These biological factors separate the criminal from a law abiding citizen. Inherent defect or abnormality due to genetic factors which on interaction with the environment lead to a criminal and deterrence won't affect. Bio criminologists believe that criminals are genetically predetermined. Each criminal has a unique set of characteristics that explain behavior.

Biological theories were based on scientific facts and measurements and represented a dramatic shift from classical theories. These theories trace back to Lombroso. Atavism or a primitive person is a born criminal and will do crimes against the society owing to their complete evolution process.

Mednick attributed autonomic nervous system as the reason behind increased violence and criminal activity. Individuals who inherit a slow autonomic nervous system are more prone to this disorder.

Behavioral genetics and biological school known popularly as biological positivism covers combination of genetics and environment along with inborn defects owe to violent and criminal behavior.

Biosocial arousal theory along with social environment is another biological theory developed in line. Individuals with low level of arousal are more susceptible to violence and crime.

Evolutionary theory also a part of biological theory of criminology mentions the role of hereditary role in criminal behavior and is passed on from one generation to another. Gene based evolutionary theory suggests that natural selection lead to genetic tendencies which lead to criminal violence are passed from generation to generation. Insane criminals are the group of individuals with biological anomalies like idiots, imbeciles, physcotics, epileptics and mental perverts. Similar theories are based on individuals with klinefelter syndromes (man with extra female X chromosome (XXY)).The super male criminals (XXY) are men born with an extra Y chromosomes, are more likely to commit crimes. This leads to extra testosterone making them more aggressive and violent.

Stigmata are characteristics which identify born criminals like extra fingers, toes, large lips, receding chins, large ears and excessive skin wrinkles.

The crimes due to biological factors can be prevented by isolating, treating, separating, sterilizing or killing the individual.

There is a definite link between behavior patterns and chemical changes in brain and nervous systems and hence criminals are genetically predetermined. This is explained in detail by trait theory.

1.3. Psychological Theories

This theory is based on the principle that underlying issue of a criminal is basically a mental issue. Hence criminal behavior is a result of mental disturbance. Freud established a link between conflict between ego ,id and superego as the main cause for mental disturbance which resulted in criminal behavior along with a improper fixation during the stages of emotional development.

A personality based on conflict, impulsiveness and aggression is the main reason for criminal behavior. Hence improper or defective personality leads to an individual without feeling of empathy, remorse and guilt which ultimately turns him into a criminal. The theory also elaborates that only when the underlying psychological and personality disorder is addressed, then only the criminal can be brought back to a responsible social citizen. The role of psychology offers therapy and counseling in attempts to reduce delinquency. Sigmund Freud and Kate Friedlander were the pioneers behind this theory. Most of the programs based on this theory offer therapy and counseling which try to reduce delinquency, ego and superego are 3 basic Freudian personality development traits. California Psychological Inventory (CPI) is a test to measure personality traits such as dominance, tolerance and sociability.

2. Social Structural Theory

Social disorganization theory is the main principle based on which social structural theory was based. Disorganized communities are the main reason for crime since social control breaks down and criminal culture emerges. Disorganized communities lack collective efficacy to combat fight and disorder. Social disorganization theory was formulated by Shaw & McKay, Sampson, Burshik and Grasmick.

Merton's anomie theory: A state of norm confusion in a society is termed as anomie. Deprivation and strain do make an individual to resort to illegitimate means to achieve legitimate aims and goals. When individual realizes that everyone can achieve the dream of equal opportunity for economic success. This leads to 5 adaptations. The conformist (for e.g. Student) accepts the goals of society and the means to achieve the same. The innovator (for e.g. Drug dealer) accepts the goal of the society but rejects the means to achieve the same. The rebellion (militia member) is a one who rejects both the goals and the means to achieve it and wants to replace them with new goals and means. The retreat (alcoholic) gives up the goals as well as the means to achieve the same. The ritualistic rejects the goals and accepts the means. Anomie theory is valid when no legitimate and normal way exists to reach equalitarian or just social goals. This happens when a society is in state of disorder and disintegration as opposed to stability and integration .Agnew's revised anomie theory proposes the reasons of the like of failure to achieve set goals, removal of positive stimuli with the confrontation of negative stimuli. Anomie lessens social control and creates deviance which is caused when low class reacts to middle class values. A society encourages high material aspirations as a sign of individual success without adequately providing means to achieve the goal. This theory is oriented towards monetary or material goal oriented crime and does not take into account violent criminal activity.

Social disorganization which is reflected in society, community, family and neighborhood results in criminal activity and is justifiable for urban crime. Urban ecology is a theory where city and natural fauna and flora are treated analogous and the study is conducted through the use of concentric zones that spread from centre to the periphery.

3. Social Process Theory

First we will look into the probable causes of behavior shown by student.

According to Social Process Theory criminal behavior shown by person is function of socialization process. Now let's try to understand what us socialization process.

Socialization process is how we fit into society. We are socialized in various scenarios

3.1 Primary Socialization

Primary Socialization deals with the way we are brought up in family, our roles in society and how we follow the norms made by society.

Family Characteristics

Inconsistent discipline

Poor supervision

High level of family conflict, parental criminality, maternal depression

Large family size

Poor living conditions

Broken relationships and broken homes

Less attachment with family

3.2 Secondary Socialization

There are 4 further agents of secondary socialization

School: - It deals with years that we spend in school. How we learn the skills to do work that comes in our way and lot of other things along with it. Offenders are likely to have low performance in school. They feel alienated, less motivated and this result in dip in academic performance.




Within the social process theories are three major classes:

social learning theory

social control theory

social reaction theory (Labeling theory)

3.3 Social learning theory

It is further divided into 2 theories:-

3.3.1 Differential Association

This theory was proposed by Edwin H. Sutherland .The underlying principles of D.A theory are:-

Criminal behavior doesn't come with birth. Indeed it is learnt by offender.

Criminal behavior is learned while having interactions/communication with other persons

This learning includes techniques of committing crimes, attitudes and rationalization.

Learning occurs mainly in intimate groups

Person becomes delinquent when he encounters excess of definitions favorable to law violation over definition unfavorable to laws violation.

D.A varies in frequency, duration, priority and intensity

The process of learning criminal behavior involves all of the mechanisms that are also involved in any other form of learning.

3.3.2 Differential reinforcement theory

The differential reinforcement theory was proposed by Ronald Akers and Robert Burgess in 1966. Differential reinforcement theory states that criminal behavior of person depends on whether he gets reward or punishment of deviant or conformal behaviors. If a person gets reward for deviance he will get engaged in wrongful activities.

3.4 Social Control theory

This theory proposes the mechanisms that regulate individual's behavior by reducing the bent of person to get indulged in delinquent behavior. Social control can be achieved by 4 ways:-

Direct: by which crime or delinquent behavior is not accepted and offender is punished for wrongful act.

Internal: by which individual refrain from wrongful behavior through self ego.

Indirect: Suppose if a offender's delinquent behavior is a cause of concern for those who are close to him, these people can influence his behavior

Satisfaction of Needs :- if individual's all needs are met then he won't show delinquent behavior

3.4.1 Techniques of neutralization

This theory suggests that even though offender knows that his behavior is delinquent. They try to justify making it acceptable in society on various grounds:-

Denial of responsibility

Denial of injury

Denial of victim

Criticizing the condemners

Appeal to higher loyalties

3.4.2 Walter reckless Containment theory

It is observed that some people are able to resist delinquent and criminal temptations and other are not even though they are in similar environment.

The reason behind this is that those who are able to keep themselves away from crimes are contained by two forms of containment

Inner: Development of such a personality traits that resist one to show delinquent behavior.

Outer: Support from family and closed ones who insulate the individual from external pressures.

Basic elements of Containment theory

External/social pressures: Various factors involved are like poor living conditions, hostile economic conditions and lack of opportunities. All these factors push the individual towards delinquency.

External pull draws individual towards criminality. Bad society and media influences contribute in drawing individual away from norms.

Internal pressures: Inner tensions, family problems, mental conflict, depression, and biological defects pull individual towards delinquency.

3.4.3 Social bonding theory

Travis Hirsch's proposed this theory in which he gave most importance to family. Typical delinquent behavior lacks:-

Attachment- attachment to family and closed ones

Commitment:- Spending time and energy in non- delinquent activities

Involvement:- Degree of involvement in non- delinquent behavior

Belief :- strength of belief in social norm and morals

3.5 Social Reaction (Labeling) theory

This theory propose that when individual commit crime, he gets label like " bad" or "evil" from society and gradually he accepts this label as a apart of himself. Therefore he thinks he is criminal n he can commit crim. Social deviance is further divided into 2 stages

Primary deviance: - When in initial stage a person commit a criminal act and he is not labeled as criminal yet. He also does not think that he is criminal then he will try to justify his actions by saying its results of socially acceptable role.

Social deviance: - When person repeats criminal act again and again, society gives him a label of "criminal" and he also thinks that he is criminal and he can show delinquent behavior.

4. Assessment of Critical perspective theory

Social theorists have presented 2 views

Consensus view: It suggests that society is based on consensus of its members (people with different values and ideas) and organizing body represents the interest of society has whole.

Conflicting view: It suggests that society is based on consensus of its members (people with different values and ideas) but organizing body represents the interest of powerful people and not minority.

4.1 Marxist theory

Marxist is one of the very famous conflict theorists. In Marx's time powerful people or oppressors were wealthy owners of means of production and minority or oppressed people were working class. Poor were being exploited by rich owners and Riches develop ideologies and justified their actions. Finally, Oppressed people united and rebelled against wealthy people. Here capitalism, exploitation, poverty and injustice results in crime. It does not take gender issues into consideration.

4.2. Conflict theory

It suggests that regardless of political and economic system, conflict raise in society as different groups have different interests. Here main cause of crime is law. It can't be eliminated and it comes into picture because every group struggles to maintain one's interest.

4.3. Feminist theory

Women face discrimination and suffer in society. Men make rules to oppress her and make her pipette for their convenience. Here gender and power is the reason for female's engagement in crime.

5. Conclusion

Social problems faced by student are-

Family issues: As mentioned Boy belongs to disadvantaged socio-economic background, student is not under adequate supervision and there are high chances that student is facing lot of family issues like family conflict, parental abuse and poor living conditions. To make it worse If student is staying in single parent home then chances of delinquency are even much higher

Intimate groups: As he is from such a background that he might be involved in company of intimate groups and therefore actively engaged in criminal activities and delinquent behavior.

Reward or punishment: His family might not be keeping check on his behavior and even for the wrongful acts he doesn't get punished. This encourages him to get more and more involved in delinquent behavior.

Unsatisfied: As he belongs to poor family and his needs doesn't get satisfied, this makes him feel inferior to other students in class. Therefore out of frustration he does wrongful acts.

Age: Student is a teenager kid therefore more likely to show delinquency.

Hence taking into consideration all the theories surrounding the probable causes for violence, it brings us inevitably the question of how to treat the student in question on the backdrop of these theories.

Harsh treatment and sanctions will make them carry on using the same vitriolic behavior and ruffian attitude. If zero tolerance approach referring to the expulsion of the student from the school sends out a wrong message and sends him to the jungle of life, which turns them up to more violent and abusive individuals. Hence we need to take care of this case individually by arranging counseling and rehabilitation program by treating the root cause of this social stigma. The student in question have used violence to vent out his frustration, distress and helplessness and he had no means to vent it out other than to resort to the path of violence. Hence the importance should be given to the creation of a positive, supportive and conducive study atmosphere which will keep the students in a high morale. Hence a professional preferably a mental psychologist should be brought in to diagnose and treat the social stigma which made him to resort to violence. Proper guidance and counseling will help us to create a valuable and a healthier environment, which will ensure that the non violent students which we groom in our educational institution will bring up non violent children in the future, hence ensuring that our society is a better and a safer place to live in.