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Theories of crime (criminology)

University of Dhaka
University of Dhaka
University of DhakaLaw Student at University of Dhaka

crime and its aspects

Theories of crime (criminology)

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Chapter 1
Crime and Justice in the
United States
Chapter 1
Crime and Justice in the
United States
Chapter 3
Explaining Crime
Chapter 3
2
Explaining Crime
CHAPTER OBJECTIVES
After completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1. Define criminological theory.
2. State the causes of crime according to classical
and neoclassical criminologists.
3. Describe the biological theories of crime
causation.
4. Describe the different psychological theories
of crime causation.
Chapter 3
3
Explaining Crime
5. Explain sociological theories of crime
causation
6. Distinguish major differences among classical,
positivist, and critical theories of crime
causation.
7. Describe how critical theorists would explain
the causes of crime.
Chapter 3
4
Explaining Crime
3.1 Introduction to
Criminological Theory
Several theories attempt to explain criminal
behavior. Some theories assume:
• Crime is part of human nature.
• Crime is based on biological,
psychological, sociological, and/or
economic aspects.
Chapter 3
5
Explaining Crime
theories
An assumption (or set of assumptions) that attempt to
explain why or how things are related to each other.
Chapter 3
6
Explaining Crime
Criminological Theory
Most of what is done in criminal justice is
based on criminological theory. Failure to
understand these theories leads to:
• Problems that undermine the success of the
theories
• Intrusion on people’s lives without good
reason

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Theories of crime (criminology)

  • 1. Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States Chapter 3 Explaining Crime
  • 2. Chapter 3 2 Explaining Crime CHAPTER OBJECTIVES After completing this chapter, you should be able to: 1. Define criminological theory. 2. State the causes of crime according to classical and neoclassical criminologists. 3. Describe the biological theories of crime causation. 4. Describe the different psychological theories of crime causation.
  • 3. Chapter 3 3 Explaining Crime 5. Explain sociological theories of crime causation 6. Distinguish major differences among classical, positivist, and critical theories of crime causation. 7. Describe how critical theorists would explain the causes of crime.
  • 4. Chapter 3 4 Explaining Crime 3.1 Introduction to Criminological Theory Several theories attempt to explain criminal behavior. Some theories assume: • Crime is part of human nature. • Crime is based on biological, psychological, sociological, and/or economic aspects.
  • 5. Chapter 3 5 Explaining Crime theories An assumption (or set of assumptions) that attempt to explain why or how things are related to each other.
  • 6. Chapter 3 6 Explaining Crime Criminological Theory Most of what is done in criminal justice is based on criminological theory. Failure to understand these theories leads to: • Problems that undermine the success of the theories • Intrusion on people’s lives without good reason
  • 7. Chapter 3 7 Explaining Crime criminological theory The explanation of criminal behavior, as well as the behavior of police, attorneys, prosecutors, judges, correctional personnel, victims, and other actors in the criminal justice system.
  • 8. Chapter 3 8 Explaining Crime What is a theory? Why is it important to understand the various theories of criminal behavior? CRITICAL THINKING
  • 9. Chapter 3 9 Explaining Crime 3.2 Classical and Neoclassical Approaches to Explaining Crime The causes of crime have been the subject of much speculation, theorizing, research, and debate. Theories about the cause of crime are based on religion, philosophy, politics, economic, and social forces.
  • 10. Chapter 3 10 Explaining Crime Classical Theory One of the earliest secular approaches to explaining the causes of crime was the classical theory.
  • 11. Chapter 3 11 Explaining Crime classical theory A product of the Enlightenment, based on the assumption that people exercise free will and are thus completely responsible for their actions. In classical theory, human behavior, including criminal behavior, is motivated by a hedonistic rationality, in which actors weigh the potential pleasure of an action against the possible pain associated with it.
  • 12. Chapter 3 12 Explaining Crime Classical Theory In 1764, criminologist Cesare Beccaria wrote An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, which set forth classical criminological theory. He argued that the only justified rationale for laws and punishments was the principle of utility.
  • 13. Chapter 3 13 Explaining Crime utility The principle that a policy should provide “the greatest happiness shared by the greatest number.”
  • 14. Chapter 3 14 Explaining Crime Classical Theory Beccaria believed the basis of society, as well as the origin of punishments and the right to punish, is the social contract. The only legitimate purpose of punishment is special deterrence and general deterrence.
  • 15. Chapter 3 15 Explaining Crime special deterrence The prevention of individuals from committing crime again by punishing them. social contract An imaginary agreement to sacrifice the minimum amount of liberty to prevent anarchy and chaos. continued…
  • 16. Chapter 3 16 Explaining Crime general deterrence The prevention of people in general or society at large from engaging in crime by punishing specific individuals and making examples of them.
  • 17. Chapter 3 17 Explaining Crime Classical Theory Beccaria believed the best way to prevent and deter crime was to: • Enact laws that are clear, simple, and unbiased, and that reflect the consensus of the population. • Educate the public. • Eliminate corruption from the administration of justice. • Reward virtue.
  • 18. Chapter 3 18 Explaining Crime Classical Theory The main real-world drawbacks of Beccaria’s theory are: • Not all offenders are alike—juveniles are treated the same as adults. • Similar crimes are not always as similar as they might appear—first-time offenders are treated the same as repeat offenders.
  • 19. Chapter 3 19 Explaining Crime Neoclassical Theory Classical theory was difficult to apply in practice. It was modified in the early 1800s and became known as neoclassical theory.
  • 20. Chapter 3 20 Explaining Crime neoclassical theory A modification of classical theory in which it was conceded that certain factors, such as insanity, might inhibit the exercise of free will.
  • 21. Chapter 3 21 Explaining Crime Neoclassical Theory Neoclassical theory introduced the idea of: • Premeditation as a measure of the degree of free will. • Mitigating circumstances as legitimate grounds for diminished responsibility.
  • 22. Chapter 3 22 Explaining Crime Neoclassical Theory Classical and neoclassical theory are the basis of the criminal justice system in the United States.
  • 23. Chapter 3 23 Explaining Crime 1. Name four of the ways that classical criminologist Cesare Beccaria thought were best to prevent or deter crime. Do you agree with Beccaria? Why or why not? 2. What are the main differences between classical and neoclassical theories? CRITICAL THINKING
  • 24. Chapter 3 24 Explaining Crime 3.3 Positivist Approaches to Explaining Crime The theory of the positivist school of criminology grew out of positive philosophy and the logic and methodology of experimental science.
  • 25. Chapter 3 25 Explaining Crime The Positivist School of Thought The key assumptions of the positivist school of thought were: 1. Human behavior is determined and not a matter of free will. 2. Criminals are fundamentally different from noncriminals. 3. Social scientists can be objective in their work. 4. Crime is frequently caused by multiple factors. 5. Society is based on consensus, but not on a social contract.
  • 26. Chapter 3 26 Explaining Crime The Positivist School of Thought The problems with positivist assumptions are that they: 1. Account for too much crime. 2. Ignore the process by which behaviors are made illegal. 3. Assume that most people agree about most things most of the time. 4. Believe that action is determined by causes independent of a person’s free will. 5. Believe that social scientists will be objective in their work.
  • 27. Chapter 3 27 Explaining Crime Try to identify harmful or destructive behaviors that are not defined as crimes. Why do you think these behaviors are not defined as crimes? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 28. Chapter 3 28 Explaining Crime Biological Theories Biological theories of crime causation (biological positivism) are based on the belief that criminals are physiologically different from noncriminals. The cause of crime is biological inferiority.
  • 29. Chapter 3 29 Explaining Crime biological inferiority According to biological theories, a criminal’s innate physiological makeup produces certain physical or genetic characteristics that distinguish criminals from noncriminals.
  • 30. Chapter 3 30 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology Criminal anthropology is associated with the work of Cesare Lombroso, who published his theory of a physical criminal type in 1876. criminal anthropology The study of “criminal” human beings.
  • 31. Chapter 3 31 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology Lombroso’s theory consisted of the following propositions: 1. Criminals are, by birth, a distinct type. 2. That type can be recognized by physical characteristics, or stigmata, such as enormous jaws, high cheekbones, and insensitivity to pain. continued…
  • 32. Chapter 3 32 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology 3. The criminal type is clearly distinguished in a person with more than five stigmata, perhaps exists in a person with three to five stigmata, and does not necessarily exist in a person with fewer than three stigmata. 4. Physical stigmata do not cause crime; they only indicate an individual who is predisposed to crime. Such a person is either an atavist or a result of degeneration. continued…
  • 33. Chapter 3 33 Explaining Crime Criminal Anthropology 5. Because of their personal natures, such persons cannot desist from crime unless they experience very favorable lives. atavist A person who reverts to a savage type.
  • 34. Chapter 3 34 Explaining Crime Body-Type Theory Body-type theory is an extension of Lombroso’s criminal anthropology, developed by Ernst Kretchmer and later William Sheldon. It says that human beings can be divided into three basic body types, or somatotypes: 1. Endomorphic (soft, fat) 2. Mesomorphic (athletically built) 3. Ectomorphic (tall, skinny)
  • 35. Chapter 3 35 Explaining Crime Body-Type Theory Sheldon found that delinquents were more mesomorphic than nondelinquents, and serious delinquents were more mesomorphic than less severe delinquents. Sheldon did not consider that delinquents are more likely to be mesomorphic because, for example, mesomorphs are more likely to be selected for gang membership.
  • 36. Chapter 3 36 Explaining Crime Heredity Studies Several studies have attempted to determine if criminality is hereditary by studying: All of these methods fail to prove that criminality is hereditary, because they cannot separate hereditary influences from environmental influences. • family trees • statistics • identical and fraternal twins • adopted children
  • 37. Chapter 3 37 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology Ongoing research has revealed numerous biological factors associated either directly or indirectly with criminal or delinquent behavior: • chemical, mineral, and vitamin deficiencies in the diet • diets high in sugar and carbohydrates • hypoglycemia continued…
  • 38. Chapter 3 38 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology • ingestion of food dyes and lead • exposure to radiation • brain dysfunctions
  • 39. Chapter 3 39 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology The limbic system is a structure surrounding the brain stem that is believed to moderate expressions of violence.
  • 40. Chapter 3 40 Explaining Crime limbic system A structure surrounding the brain stem that, in part, controls the life functions of heartbeat, breathing, and sleep.
  • 41. Chapter 3 41 Explaining Crime Modern Biocriminology Violent criminal behavior has also been linked to disorders in other parts of the brain. Recent evidence suggests that chronic violent offenders have much higher levels of brain disorder than the general population.
  • 42. Chapter 3 42 Explaining Crime Brain Neurotransmitters Some criminal behaviors are believed to be influenced by low levels of brain neurotransmitters (the substances brain cells use to communicate). • Low levels of serotonin have been found in impulsive murderers and arsonists. • Norepinephrine may be associated with compulsive gambling.
  • 43. Chapter 3 43 Explaining Crime Hormones Criminal behaviors have also been associated with hormone abnormalities, especially those involving: • Testosterone (a male sex hormone) • Progesterone and estrogen (female sex hormones) Administering estrogen to male sex offenders has been found to reduce their sexual drives.
  • 44. Chapter 3 44 Explaining Crime What are the pros and cons of using chemical or physical castration on repeat sex offenders? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 45. Chapter 3 45 Explaining Crime Positivist Approaches Today, most criminologists believe that criminal behavior is the product of a complex interaction between biology and environmental or social conditions.
  • 46. Chapter 3 46 Explaining Crime Positivist Approaches Biology or genetics gives an individual a predisposition to behave in a certain way. Whether a person actually behaves in that way and whether that behavior is defined as a crime depend on environmental or social conditions.
  • 47. Chapter 3 47 Explaining Crime Psychological Theories There are many theories regarding psychological causes of crime, including: • Intelligence and crime • Psychoanalytic theories • Psychoanalysis • Humanistic psychological theory
  • 48. Chapter 3 48 Explaining Crime Intelligence and Crime The idea that crime is the product primarily of people of low intelligence has been popular occasionally in the United States. A study in 1931 showed no correlation between intelligence and criminality.
  • 49. Chapter 3 49 Explaining Crime Psychoanalytic Theories Psychoanalytic theories of crime causation are associated with the work of Sigmund Freud who believed that people who had unresolved deep-seated problems were psychopaths.
  • 50. Chapter 3 50 Explaining Crime psychopaths Persons characterized by no sense of guilt, no subjective conscience, and no sense of right and wrong. They have difficulty in forming relationships with other people; they cannot empathize with other people. They are also called sociopaths or antisocial personalities.
  • 51. Chapter 3 51 Explaining Crime Psychoanalysis The principal policy implication of considering crime symptomatic of deep- seated problems is to provide psychotherapy or psychoanalysis in order to resolve the symptoms associated with the problems.
  • 52. Chapter 3 52 Explaining Crime Psychoanalysis The problems with the idea that criminals are biologically or psychologically “sick” are: 1. The bulk of the research on the issue suggests that most criminals are no more disturbed than the rest of the population. 2. Many people with psychological disturbances do not commit crimes. continued…
  • 53. Chapter 3 53 Explaining Crime Psychoanalysis 3. Psychoanalytic theory ignores environmental circumstances. 4. Much of the theoretical structure of psychotherapy is scientifically untestable.
  • 54. Chapter 3 54 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Abraham Maslow and Seymour Halleck developed theories similar to Freud’s but based on the assumption that human beings are basically good.
  • 55. Chapter 3 55 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Maslow believed that human beings are motivated by five basic levels of needs, and that people choose crime because they cannot (or will not) satisfy their needs legally.
  • 56. Chapter 3 56 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Halleck views crime as one of several adaptations to the helplessness caused by oppression.
  • 57. Chapter 3 57 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory Neither Maslow nor Halleck asks these basic questions: • Why can’t people satisfy their basic needs legally, or why do they choose not to? • Why don’t societies ensure that basic needs can be satisfied legally so that the choice to satisfy them illegally makes no sense? continued…
  • 58. Chapter 3 58 Explaining Crime Humanistic Psychological Theory • Why does society oppress many people, and why aren’t more effective measures taken to greatly reduce that oppression?
  • 59. Chapter 3 59 Explaining Crime What formal and informal forms of coercion do you have to submit to? Do you think that such coercion can influence whether you might commit a crime? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 60. Chapter 3 60 Explaining Crime Sociological Theories Sociologists emphasize that human beings live in social groups and that those groups and the social structure they create influence behavior. Most sociological theories of crime causation assume that a criminal’s behavior is determined by his or her social environment and reject the notion of the born criminal.
  • 61. Chapter 3 61 Explaining Crime The Contributions of Durkheim Many sociological theories of crime causation stem from the work of Emile Durkheim who rejected the idea that the world is simply the product of individual actions. Social laws and institutions are “social facts” and all people can do is submit to them.
  • 62. Chapter 3 62 Explaining Crime The Contributions of Durkheim Durkheim argued that crime is also a social fact. The cause of crime is anomie. Crime is functional for society and marks the boundaries of morality. He advocated containing crime within reasonable boundaries.
  • 63. Chapter 3 63 Explaining Crime anomie For Durkheim, the dissociation of the individual from the collective conscience. collective conscience The general sense of morality of the times.
  • 64. Chapter 3 64 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School In the 1920s, a group of sociologists known as the Chicago School attempted to uncover the relationship between a neighborhood’s crime rate and the characteristics of the neighborhood.
  • 65. Chapter 3 65 Explaining Crime Chicago School A group of sociologists at the University of Chicago who assumed in their research that delinquent behavior was a product of social disorganization.
  • 66. Chapter 3 66 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School The Chicago School described American cities in ecological terms, saying growth occurs through a process of: Invasion: A cultural or ethnic group invades a territory. Domination: Succession: The group dominates that territory. The group is succeeded by another group and the cycle repeats itself.
  • 67. Chapter 3 67 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School Other studies found that neighborhoods that experienced high delinquency rates also experienced social disorganization.
  • 68. Chapter 3 68 Explaining Crime social disorganization The condition in which the usual controls over delinquents are largely absent, delinquent behavior is often approved of by parents and neighbors, there are many opportunities for delinquent behavior, and there is little encouragement, training, or opportunity for legitimate employment.
  • 69. Chapter 3 69 Explaining Crime The Theory of the Chicago School One of the problems with the theory of the Chicago School is the presumption that social disorganization is a cause of delinquency. Both social disorganization and delinquency may be the product of other, more basic factors.
  • 70. Chapter 3 70 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Robert Merton in 1938 wrote about a major contradiction in the U.S. between cultural goals and social structure. He called the contradiction anomie.
  • 71. Chapter 3 71 Explaining Crime anomie For Merton, the contradiction between the cultural goal of achieving wealth and the social structure’s inability to provide legitimate institutional means for achieving the goal.
  • 72. Chapter 3 72 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Merton argued that the limited availability of legitimate institutionalized means to wealth puts a strain on people. People adapt through: 1. Conformity—playing the game. 2. Innovation—pursuing wealth by illegitimate means. continued…
  • 73. Chapter 3 73 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory 3. Ritualism—not actively pursuing wealth. 4. Retreatism—dropping out. 5. Rebellion—rejecting the goal of wealth and the institutional means of getting it.
  • 74. Chapter 3 74 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory In the mid-1950s, Albert K. Cohen adapted Merton’s anomie or strain theory to explain gang delinquency. anomie For Cohen, it is caused by the inability of juveniles to achieve status among peers by socially acceptable means.
  • 75. Chapter 3 75 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Juveniles unable to achieve status through socially acceptable means either: • conform to middle-class values and resign themselves to their inferior status, or • rebel and establish their own value structures, then find others like themselves and form groups to validate and reinforce the new values.
  • 76. Chapter 3 76 Explaining Crime Anomie or Strain Theory Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin further argued that the type of adaptation made by juvenile gang members depends on the illegitimate opportunity structure available to them. They identified three gang subcultures: continued…
  • 77. Chapter 3 77 Explaining Crime • Criminal—formed to make money. • Violent—formed to vent anger if they can’t make money. • Retreatist—formed by those who can’t join the other gangs, and become alcoholics and drug addicts. Anomie or Strain Theory
  • 78. Chapter 3 78 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Gabriel Tarde was one of the first theorists to believe that crime was something learned by normal people as they adapted to other people and the conditions of their environment. Writing in Penal Philosophy in 1890, Tarde viewed all social phenomena as the product of imitation or modeling.
  • 79. Chapter 3 79 Explaining Crime imitation or modeling A means by which a person can learn new responses by observing others without performing any overt act or receiving direct reinforcement or reward.
  • 80. Chapter 3 80 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Edwin H. Sutherland—in his theory of differential association—was the first 20th- century criminologist to argue that criminal behavior was learned. This theory, modified, remains one of the most influential theories of crime causation.
  • 81. Chapter 3 81 Explaining Crime differential association Sutherland’s theory that persons who become criminal do so because of contacts with criminal patterns and isolation from anticriminal patterns.
  • 82. Chapter 3 82 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Sutherland’s theory was modified by several researchers and became generally known as learning theory.
  • 83. Chapter 3 83 Explaining Crime learning theory A theory that explains criminal behavior and its prevention with the concepts of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, extinction, punishment, and modeling or imitation.
  • 84. Chapter 3 84 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Learning theory argues that people commit crimes because they get positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement.
  • 85. Chapter 3 85 Explaining Crime negative reinforcement The removal or reduction of a stimulus whose removal or reduction increases or maintains a response. positive reinforcement The presentation of a stimulus that increases or maintains a response.
  • 86. Chapter 3 86 Explaining Crime Learning Theories According to learning theory, criminal behavior is reduced, but not eliminated, through extinction or punishment.
  • 87. Chapter 3 87 Explaining Crime punishment The presentation of an aversive stimulus to reduce a response. extinction A process in which behavior that previously was positively reinforced is no longer reinforced.
  • 88. Chapter 3 88 Explaining Crime Learning Theories Among the policy implications of learning theory is to punish criminal behavior effectively, according to learning theory principles. This is not done effectively in the U.S. • Chances of a prisoner escaping are great. • Probation does not function as an aversive stimulus. • Most offenders are not incarcerated. continued…
  • 89. Chapter 3 89 Explaining Crime Learning Theories • Punishment is not consistent and immediate. • Offenders are generally returned to the environments in which their crimes were committed. • There is no positive reinforcement of alternative, prosocial behaviors.
  • 90. Chapter 3 90 Explaining Crime What are the pros and cons of returning released prisoners to their prior cities and neighborhoods? Do you think that government could prohibit released prisoners from returning to their prior locales? How would that work? JUSTICE ISSUE
  • 91. Chapter 3 91 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories The key question in the social control theory is not why people commit crime and delinquency, but rather why don’t they? Why do people conform?
  • 92. Chapter 3 92 Explaining Crime social control theory A view in which people are expected to commit crime and delinquency unless they are prevented from doing so.
  • 93. Chapter 3 93 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories The most detailed elaboration of modern social control theory is attributed to Travis Hirschi who wrote the 1969 book, Causes of Delinquency.
  • 94. Chapter 3 94 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories Hirschi argued that delinquency should be expected if a juvenile is not properly socialized by establishing a strong bond to society, consisting of: 1. Attachment to others 2. Commitment to conventional lines of action 3. Involvement in conventional activities 4. Belief in the moral order and law
  • 95. Chapter 3 95 Explaining Crime Social Control Theories More recently, Hirschi wrote with Michael Gottfredson that the principal cause of deviant behaviors is ineffective child rearing, which produces people with low self-control.
  • 96. Chapter 3 96 Explaining Crime 1. What are the five key assumptions of the positivist school of thought? 2. How would you describe body-type theory? What is the major criticism of this theory? CRITICAL THINKING continued…
  • 97. Chapter 3 97 Explaining Crime 3. Explain psychoanalytic theory and some of the problems associated with it. 4. Explain learning theory. Do you think this theory has merit? CRITICAL THINKING
  • 98. Chapter 3 98 Explaining Crime 3.4 Critical Approaches to Explaining Crime Critical theories grew out of the changing social landscape of the American 1960s. Critical theories assume that human beings are the creators of institutions and structures that ultimately dominate and constrain them. Critical theories assume that society is characterized primarily by conflict over moral values.
  • 99. Chapter 3 99 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory The focus of labeling theory is the criminalization process rather than the positivist concern with the peculiarities of the criminal.
  • 100. Chapter 3 100 Explaining Crime criminalization process The way people and actions are defined as criminal. labeling theory A theory that emphasizes the criminalization process as the cause of some crime.
  • 101. Chapter 3 101 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory The labeling theory argues that once a person commits a first criminal act, they are labeled negatively as a criminal. The label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • 102. Chapter 3 102 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory A policy implication of labeling theory is simply not to label, through: • Decriminalization—The elimination of behaviors from the scope of criminal law. • Diversion—Removing offenders from the criminal justice process. continued…
  • 103. Chapter 3 103 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory • Greater due-process protections—Replacing discretion with the rule of law. • Deinstitutionalization—Reducing jail and prison populations.
  • 104. Chapter 3 104 Explaining Crime Labeling Theory An alternative policy is reintegrative shaming: • Disappointment is expressed for the offender’s actions. • The offender is shamed and punished. • Then the community makes a concerted effort to reintegrate the offender back into society.
  • 105. Chapter 3 105 Explaining Crime MYTH FACT Most offenders resist being labeled criminal and accept the label only when they are no longer capable of fighting it. In some communities the label criminal, or some variation of it, is actively sought.
  • 106. Chapter 3 106 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory Conflict theory focuses on the conflict in society between rich and poor, management and labor, whites and minorities.
  • 107. Chapter 3 107 Explaining Crime conflict theory A theory that assumes that society is based primarily on conflict between competing interest groups and that criminal law and the criminal justice system are used to control subordinate groups. Crime is caused by relative powerlessness.
  • 108. Chapter 3 108 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory According to conflict theory, criminal law and the criminal justice system are used by dominant groups to control subordinate ones.
  • 109. Chapter 3 109 Explaining Crime All behavior occurs because people act in ways consistent with their social positions. Subordinate groups appear in official criminal statistics more frequently because dominant groups have control over the definition of criminality. Conflict Theory
  • 110. Chapter 3 110 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory The amount of crime in a society is a function of the extent of conflict generated by power differentials. Crime is caused by relative powerlessness.
  • 111. Chapter 3 111 Explaining Crime relative powerlessness The inability to dominate other groups in society. power differentials The ability of some groups to dominate other groups in a society.
  • 112. Chapter 3 112 Explaining Crime Conflict Theory Policy implications of conflict theory are: • To redistribute power and wealth through a more progressive tax system or limitation of political contributions. • For dominant group members to become more effective rulers and subordinate group members better subjects.
  • 113. Chapter 3 113 Explaining Crime Radical Theory Radical theories argue that capitalism requires people to compete against each other in the pursuit of material wealth. The more unevenly wealth is distributed, the more likely people are to find persons weaker than themselves that they can take advantage of in their pursuit of wealth.
  • 114. Chapter 3 114 Explaining Crime radical theories Theories of crime causation that are generally based on a Marxist theory of class struggle.
  • 115. Chapter 3 115 Explaining Crime Radical Theory Radical theory defines crime as a violation of human rights. Under a radical definition of crime: • prostitution • gambling • drug use would not be crimes. • racism • sexism • imperialism would be crimes.
  • 116. Chapter 3 116 Explaining Crime JUSTICE ISSUE Do you accept the radical definition of crime as a violation of politically defined rights to decent food and shelter, human dignity, and self-determination? Do you prefer the traditional legal definition of crime as a violation of the criminal law, committed without defense or excuse and penalized by the state?
  • 117. Chapter 3 117 Explaining Crime Radical Theory The policy implications of radical theory include: • Demonstrating that the current definition of crime supports the ruling class. • Redefining crime as a violation of human rights. • Creation of a benevolent socialist society in which the economy is regulated to promote public welfare.
  • 118. Chapter 3 118 Explaining Crime Radical Theory Criticisms of radical theory include: • The radical definition of crime as a violation of human rights is too broad and vague. • The adherents of radical theory are pursuing a political agenda. • Its causal model is wrong. • It has not been tested satisfactorily and it cannot be tested satisfactorily.
  • 119. Chapter 3 119 Explaining Crime Other Critical Theories New critical theories of crime causation include: • British or left realism • Peacemaking criminology • Feminist theory • Postmodernism
  • 120. Chapter 3 120 Explaining Crime British or Left Realism Many critical criminologists focus on crimes committed by the powerful. In the mid-1980s a group of social scientists in Great Britain, known as left realists, began focusing on crime by and against the working class. Left realists want to give more power to police to combat crime, but also want to make the police more accountable for their actions.
  • 121. Chapter 3 121 Explaining Crime left realists A group of social scientists who argue that critical criminologists need to redirect their attention to the fear and the very real victimization experienced by working-class people.
  • 122. Chapter 3 122 Explaining Crime Peacemaking Criminology Peacemaking criminology is a mixture of anarchism, humanism, socialism, and Native American and Eastern philosophies that rejects the idea that criminal violence can be reduced by state violence. Peacemaking criminologists believe that reducing suffering will reduce crime.
  • 123. Chapter 3 123 Explaining Crime peacemaking criminology An approach that suggests that the solution to all social problems, including crime, is the transformation of human beings, mutual dependence, reduction of class structures, the creation of communities of caring people, and universal social justice.
  • 124. Chapter 3 124 Explaining Crime Feminist Theory Feminist theory looks at crime from a feminine perspective. The focus is on three areas of crime and justice: • The victimization of women • Gender differences in crime • Gendered justice (differing treatment of female and male offenders and victims by the criminal justice system)
  • 125. Chapter 3 125 Explaining Crime feminist theory A group of social scientists who argue that critical criminologists need to redirect their attention to the fear and the very real victimization experienced by working-class people.
  • 126. Chapter 3 126 Explaining Crime Feminist Theory The principal goal of most feminist theory is to abolish patriarchy by ensuring women equal opportunity and equal rights. Criticisms of feminist theory include: • The failure to appreciate differences between women • A contradictory position regarding police
  • 127. Chapter 3 127 Explaining Crime patriarchy Men’s control over women’s labor and sexuality.
  • 128. Chapter 3 128 Explaining Crime Postmodernism Postmodernism grew out of the 1960s as a rejection of the Enlightenment belief in scientific rationality as the route to knowledge and progress.
  • 129. Chapter 3 129 Explaining Crime postmodernism An area of critical thought which, among other things, attempts to understand the creation of knowledge, and how knowledge and language create hierarchy and domination.
  • 130. Chapter 3 130 Explaining Crime Postmodernism Postmodernist criminologists argue that interpretations of the law are dependent on the particular social context in which they arise. They would change the criminal justice apparatus with informal social controls.
  • 131. Chapter 3 131 Explaining Crime 1. How would you explain labeling theory? 2. What is peacemaking criminology? Is this theory realistic? 3. Explain feminist theory and its key criticisms. CRITICAL THINKING
  • 132. Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the United States End of Chapter 3