Theory of Crime Causation

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Theory of Crime Causation

Social Control Theory

Social control theories indicate that criminal acts are caused by lack of socialization processes which encourage lawful behaviors. Social control theories put more emphasis on the norms and society beliefs that explain why individuals in the society should not violate the law. The social control theories have strong effect on the level of crime in the community. If the members of  society are informed and understand the outcomes of criminal actions, the level of law violation would greatly decrease. According to the social control theory of crime, people decide to commit the crime due to stress they experience in life. They engage in crime to escape from such stress.

Social control theory explains the function of social theory and how it can affect the behavior of members of the society. The strength of social control theory of crime is that it only requires the members of society to be informed about the need of being a law abiding citizen. Media, parents and peers are the best method for implementing the social theory of crime control. The social theory advocates the importance of using cognitive factors to decide on ones actions.

The social control theory of crime has certain weaknesses; it may not control some criminal behaviors which are genetically motivated. Also, the social control theory method may not explicitly and consistetly change the behavior of an individual. This method is mostly applicable for those who are not criminals to de-motivate them against violating the law (Hirschi, 1969).

Strain Theory

According to the strain theory, it is evident that the social structures in the society may force an individual to engage in criminal activities. According to this theory, monetary constraints and relative deprivation may lead to the rise in crime. The weakness of this theory is that it only concerned with materialistic achievement. This theory is only focused on the people from the lower social class. It ignores spontaneous criminal activities. However, this theory has some strengths because it portrays a realistic reflection of the society (Crime and Justice History Group, 1980).

Differential Association Theory

This theory states that criminal behavior is learned through communication and interaction with criminals. The learning takes place within intimate individual groups. The learning involves techniques to be used when committing the crimes, attitudes and the rationalizations. An individual gains favorable or unfavorable motives from definition of legal code. The individual commits crime when there are excess definitions that are favorable to breaking the law than those that are not favorable. The weakness of this theory is that it does not indicate practiical operations of “excess definitions” favorable to crime. Also, this theory can influence other social learning theories. Its strength is that it explains how criminal gangs are formed (American Bar Association, 1986).

Neutralization Theory

This method indicates that the individuals who commit crime end up neutralizing certain values and this usually stops them from committing such acts that indicate their responsibility to abide by the rule of law. This theory refers to psychological method for individual to turn off their inner voice when they want to do something that they know is wrong. Some of the strengths of this theory are that it explains the effects of peer pressure. It also explains how individuals who were not criminals learn criminal behavior. Some of the weaknesses of neutralization theory are that it neglects differences in individual ease of learning. This theory also has the weakness of neglecting the structural variables that may contribute to instability in the family. The neutralization theory also neglects the difference in the level of difficulty with which attachments are achieved. An example of a lawsuit is the Bruno v. McGuire, this case challenged the NYPD’s policy of refusing to arrest men who abuse their wives. In this case, the actions of men indicate a state of strain theory where social structures in the communities  allowed men to physically abuse their wives. 

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