When we consider theories that are most applicable to the idea of a social institution and how they may apply to organized crime or criminal behavior in generally it is important to consider at least two theories. The Rational Choice Theory and the Theory of Differential Association are two theories that attempt to allow us to gain insight as to how social institution can not only be responsible for creating organized crime but also allude to criminal behaviors and allow us to see how individuals can come to a decision to choose their live their life in this fashion. Rational theory believes organized crime groups can make rational decisions when pertaining to crime and the groups know right from wrong and possess free will. The rational theory believes in harsher penalty and quicker approach when it comes with dealing with criminals. The rational theory offenders discover that committing a crime was not worth it.
Labelling theory first came about in the late 1960s and 70s as a new approach to crime and deviance, and is a social way of thinking about crime. It became the main sociological theory of crime, even though it did not try and understand what exactly made people criminal but more societies reactions to crime, “it looks towards society’s reaction to the deviant more than to the person of the deviant” [Williams; 2008, Pg.420]. Previously, Functionalists had discussed reasons for deviance being anomie and incorrect socialisation within an individual causing them to be unaware of social norms and fall away from mainstream society. Marxists had blamed the anti-social acts of working class criminals on the oppression and alienation they are faced with through living in a capitalist society. Both theories place the actual reason for deviance to be within an individual, whereas labelling theory moved away from that.
The term subcultural crime and deviance implies the violation of laws or social norms by various groups within society. A subculture is a collective response to mainstream culture with their own separate values and beliefs. These groups have been studied in depth by sociologists and many have attempted to explain subcultural crime and deviance through the existence of deviant subcultures. Originally the work of Merton surrounding strain theory claimed that when there was a strain between the goals of society and the means of obtaining the goals then people would turn to crime. However Subcultural theorists developed this idea claiming that people experiencing strain seek different forms of success.
The problem for any society is that these boundaries are unclear and change over time. While a certain, limited amount of crime may perform positive functions for society, according to Durkheim, too much crime has negative consequences. His most well known concept was that of 'anomie', which has been widely used in sociology. According to Durkheim, society is based on people sharing common values which form the basis for actions. However, in periods of social change, people may be freed from the social control by collective conscience and start to look after their own self need rather than following social values.
Assess Functionalist Approaches to the Study of Crime and Deviance Functionalists such as Emile Durkheim, Robert Merton and Albert Cohen all attempt to explain the nature and extent of crime in today’s society. In essence, Functionalists argue that society is based on value consensus and social solidarity which is sustained via socialisation and social control mechanisms within society. Emile Durkheim states that whilst crime is obviously a social negative with the ultimate power to destabilise society, he stands by the claim that crime is inevitable, universal, and integral to a healthy society and even having positive benefits. He claims that crime occurs in society due to two fundamental reasons; firstly, not everyone is effectively socialised to the same norms and values which leads to people being prone to deviation and secondly, due to the diverse lifestyle and subcultures in contemporary society, subcultures act out different norms and values and what members of that subculture regard as normal, mainstream culture may deem it as deviancy. The Functionalist approach to the study of crime states that crime has two positive functions for society.
It was a structuralism theory as it saw the structure of society shaping people's behaviour. Albert Cohen was the first sociologist to develop a subcultural theory of working-class crime and deviance. He examined delinquent gangs in low-income, inner-city areas. Delinquency refers to the criminal and anti-social acts of young people. The functionalist believe that the understanding of deviance is the function for society rather than individuals themselves.
Describe how social cognition can explain criminal behaviour. Cognition has been recognised as an explanation of why an individual turns to crime. This term is applied to the mental processes that determine our actions, feelings and beliefs. Social cognition explores how our thoughts are influenced by the people we associate with. Additionally psychologists look at social cognition the other way round, to determine social phenomena through an individuals’ cognitions.
Was I Born a Criminal Abstract Do I look like a criminal? Does my physical attributes reveal my inner desires to commit crime? Are we born criminals or do we learn crime? This paper will reflect on the Biological Theory of crime, and how it is used to determine ones criminal behavior based upon ones physical features. It will also use different studies founded by scientist who believed that criminal activity could be predetermined based upon imbalances in the brain, hormones, as well as influence.
Rather than focusing on social situations, the criminal and deviant act, the interactionists focused on the reaction to the act and its effects on the deviant individual. One main possible criticisms of interactionist theory is that to some extent ignores and privatisation and its effect on crime. Can negative labelling be the only reason that crime is predominantly more in working class area than in middle class ones? The “new criminology” was a radical development of traditional Marxist theory (Young, Walton and Taylor) they attempted to combine the process of labelling with Marxist explanations of social inequality to explain crime. A criticism of both the original interactionists and the new criminology came from the “New Left Realists”
Justification and Capacity 10/31/11 CJA 354 Richard S. Stolker When a person commits a crime, he or she tries to give a reason why they had to do it. The reason a person gives is his or her way of justifying the actions. Is there a difference between justification and excuses? How can police officers and judges tell when a person is trying to justify his or her actions or giving excuses? Everyone has the capacity to commit crimes but not everyone has the mental capacity or criminal capacity to understand the crime committed.