Theories to Explain Criminal Behavior, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Various theories exist that attempt to explain why individuals commit criminal behaviour. Emile Durkheim (1858 – 1917) introduced and developed the concept of anomie in his writings of crime and suicide” (Sociological Theories of Criminal Behavior I).  He “believed that one of society’s most important elements is its social cohestion or social solidarity, which represents a collective conscience” (ibid.), which had “two types of solidarity, mechanical and organic” (ibid.).  The former was controlled by the collective conscience, whereas the latter, as societies grew more complex,  shifted to individuals being wronged; and thus became restitutive in which the former controls of a simple homogenous society were no longer able to control behaviour.  “Greater loneliness, more social isolation, and a loss of identity resulted…in which crimes and other antisocial acts may develop and flourish” (ibid.).  This can still be seen today among all kinds and ages of people who live lonely desolate lives on the periphery of society.

The most popular theories, however, continue to be those of social variables and of learning.  One of these is the differential association theory developed by Sutherland, which is a social learning theory presented in nine steps.  Criminality is considered to be “basically the result of engaging in inappropriate behaviours by those with whom we interact” (See, 2004).

Biological theories claim that “criminal behaviour is the result of biological or inborn defects or abnormalities…Under a biological perspective deterrence is of little value” (ibid.). These theories differ completely from the other theories.  In my opinion, they explain crime to a great extent, but not all of it since not all criminals have biological defects.

References

See, E. (2004).  Study guide for criminological theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Application. Fourth Edition. By Ronald L. Akers and Christine S. Sellers. Roxbury Publishing Company: Los Angeles, California. Retrieved on September 05, 2012, from http://roxbury.net/images/pdfs/ct4ssg.pdf.

Sociological Theories of Criminal Behavior I: The Social-Structural Approach. Retrieved on September 05, 2012, from http://www.us.oup.com/us/pdf.reid/Reid_chapter5.pdf.

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