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Crime is one of the vices that have struck human society since time in memorial. Because of its immense devastating effects, scholars and other researchers have toiled to identify the root cause of crime and even how it can be minimized among other core areas in the study of criminology. This paper is going to explore the sources of crime, the explanations of crime biologically and psychologically and lastly explore valid ways in which societies have responded to crime that has befell them. It will explore deviant behavior socioeconomically and its relation to criminal activities and behavior.
Social, Cultural and Economic Sources of Crime
The social-economic status of a society determines the levels of crimes that are likely to be experienced. A number of researchers have argued that the poor commit more crimes and more punishments are imposed on them. This is attributed to the assertion that crime results from poverty and that poverty may also replicate crime. This attributed to the fact that most poor families usually miss moral and structural prop that would have alternatively aided in engaging in productive activities and better child rearing practices. This has consequently led to increased crime cases in poor localities such as theft (Hirschi, 1969).
The link between poverty and crime does not always present a cause and effect relation between people of low socioeconomic status and crime. Other factors associated with poverty come into play when trying to explain crime that results from poverty. This might include general societal inefficiency, lack of high quality education services, poor living conditions and high unemployment rates among other things. Rampant cases of poor parenting styles, low discipline and lack of other basic social amenities are all significant explanations for the association of poverty and crime. It is thus important to try and explain the interactions of all this in relation to crime cause or source.
Whatever situation or status one is in, they have resolved whether to commit or avoid crime. This derives the rational choice theory that tries to explain the sources of crime. This theory states that people first weigh the benefits and risks that will accrue from engaging in a certain criminal activity. These behavioral choices are the products of both intrinsic factors as well as environmental forces that are at times beyond an individual’s control (Hirschi, 1969). A continued capitalistic industrialization has led to the emergence of a large, urban society that has brought in societal strain.
There are now conflicting perspectives to crime as the constitutional law tends to protect the interests of the rich more without paying much attention to the majority of poor in the society. This is even evident in contemporary judicial proceedings as street crimes are heavily penalized and taut sentences are impounded on the offenders whereas high profile cases are handled with leniency had even penalized conveniently even for capital crimes in the society (Williams III & McShane,1999).
Early Sociology Theories
The proponents of these theories contend that crime is given meaning by those in power and the reaction of people to it. The Chicago School alleged that people’s conduct is subjective to the social and physical environment (Williams & McShane, 1999). Industrialization and the consequent rising numbers of urban centers were viewed also as a source of crime as more people moved to towns in search of jobs which could not be available to all. This large number of unemployed people led to the necessity of establishing social work organizations to give them the prop they required. The mushrooming of slums in the cities has further accelerated crime rates. This provides a concrete explanation of high theft cases or any other sort of criminal activity developed or devised to provide an illicit gain.
Law enforcement in these areas is also critical as the communities have exceedingly little regard for values or customs. Social learning theory explains how individuals learn by watching others act or even watching television (Hirschi, 1969). If a person, for instance, an infant is brought up in an environment where crime is the norm of the day, he is also at risk of emulating the same activities he/she witnesses every day once he grows up. This type of behavior learning is referred to as behavior reinforcement or modeling as the child tries to put into practice what he sees. When close associates such as relatives and friends steal the young receptive children will model into that behavior and start up a life of theft and robbery to support themselves. This is alluded to the fact that a person replicates others behavior.
The idea is that an individual imitates others in a ratio to the amount of contact time spent together with those committing the crime.
Differential Association theory contends that criminal behavior is learned in a social setting and environment. Crime is brought forth by a combination of the situation, opportunity and values. This theory was proposed to explain groupings that people form amongst themselves though not necessarily with criminals. It is the structure of morals and philosophy that governs the grouping.
Subculture theory (Albert Cohen) is a theory that explains how subcultures are established in groupings and city neighborhoods left by the middle class. This theory was created out of a combination of anomie theory and the Chicago School (Williams & McShane, 1999; Barkan, 2006). He considered them as non-utilitarian, malicious and such that had negative motives as they are often deviant from the mainstream culture. Those living in slum surrounded areas would feel as if their status were being compromised. Though subcultures may develop among the rich, most gang members suffer from poverty or unemployment so they are left with no other option other than engaging in crime to earn their living.
None comprehensive communities lack organization, control over social and economic behavior and thus lead to individuals associating in groups that will guarantee them respect and gain a sense of belonging. This may be viewed as abandonment from the societal norms, seeking identity and looking for money making opportunities that are unlawful while trailing away from the dominant culture.
Strain, Anomie and Social Disorganization
Strain brings forth change in the society making it more multifaceted. There is usually a strong emphasis on wealth gain and its accumulation for self-material interests. Such societal structures more often do not limit likelihood of the less privileged to acquire tangible wealth through structured socially acceptable means. Anomie will thus lead people to design alternative values and means that will help them survive in the system and achieve their accomplishments through illegal methods (Dotter, 2004). These alternative values are often contrary to societal norms and are often viewed as rebellion from the societal expectations. Despite this there is also evidence of increase in criminal activities even in times of economic prosperity. Relative deprivation theory alludes that even a greater success by some motivates the lower class to engage in crime for their own self interests. Relative deprivation is more of an individual perception in their mind relative to the surrounding environment. This may be true owing to the fact that such individuals have fewer material possessions and that they think the only way to get the same is through stealing.
This is especially true for property crimes, as individuals in these neighborhoods have few material possessions and may feel the only way to gain possessions is to steal them.
Social disorganization theory is entrenched on surrounding conditions such as neighborhood circumstances, absence of social controls, single-family homes unlawful groupings and deviant whereas the strain theory focuses on the conflict between ends and methods of making both ends meet.
Biological and Psychological Explanations of Crime
In trying to expound on the sources of crime, scholars have sought for biological and psychological explanations. In trying to look into this, we will use Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation and infant violence, all which later become critical ingredients in shaping one’s character and personality. Criminals usually have signs that consist of unusual skull and jaw asymmetries. The physical characteristics of criminals are quite different from those of other beings. Criminality is genetic and it’s passed from parents to their off-springs in succeeding generations.
Biological determinism doesn’t give individuals a choice in the way they turn out to be, as they are most likely to be like their parents. A born criminal could be easily recognized by physiognomic defects (Thornberry, 1987). Critics have argued that psychological evidence cannot be adequately used to explain behaviors of individuals. However, in modern times, the less attractive individuals have higher chances of being considered guilty as opposed to the most attractive.
This is a theory that explains the effects of early childhood deprivation and violence and the later effects in adulthood. Bowlby coined up this theory after his encounters while a teacher in an institution catering for children who had hardships in their hard early experiences. He discovered that children got angered when their parents did not visit them in school and that their relationship with the parents became more disrupted for quite some time once they got home for holidays. He later discovered that mothers and their babies form an intimate relationship through genetically inherited variables like bodily expressions. Maternal love and care in early years of life for children is crucial for psychological health and that the mother-child bond if broken, could lead to severe psychological problems in the later life (Williams III &McShane, (1999). Maternal deprivation Bowlby believed in, could lead to delinquency and reliance.
For Bowlby maternal deprivation has the following consequences: aggression, depression, delinquency, dependency worry, cognitive impairments and poor social skills. Despite this assertion by Bowlby, contemporary society has changed and the emphasis on maternal love and care declined as today mothers are actively involved in productive activities unlike the yester years. There are also rising cases of same-sex marriages who even adopt children at very tender ages. This claim has formed a loophole for criticisms of this theory. Despite this weakness, prison managers and the government have found it important to allow mother special units that they are able to take up care for their children up to the age of two years to give the kids more time to bond with their mothers.
It’s worth noting that from the above two theories that both genetic and biological factors interactively influence greatly involvement in crime more than the social or economic factors. Further research on this, may reveal specific genes that are responsible for delinquent behavior. In contemporary society, it is presumed that kids who do not have intimate relationship with their mothers do tend to go out and commit crimes (Thornberry, 1987).
Community Reactions to Crime
Different communities have devised methods of dealing with different types of crime that befall them. Criminals in society may be victimized as part of the societal reactions to crime. The effects of both community and individual features such as victimization lead to specific local devised contexts of dealing with the crimes. The community’s reaction to crime is influenced by such factors as demographical structure and patterns, socio-cultural and political climate and the number of reported crimes (Thornberry, 1987). Due to the increased rates of reported crime, the society might gang up to hold demonstrations to challenge the same.
Community response to crime may include worries for own safety and even material possessions. Communities may come up with intervention measures such as putting up recreational services and putting up development projects that engage the culprits other than being idle. Rehabilitation centers are developed to try and model and shape deviant behaviors. The criminals might also be trained on vocational skills that could help them earn a living out of the same. This is part of the interventional measures that communities devise to try and correct deviant behavior among individuals in the society. The exponential growth in human population has not been matched with a consequent increase in resources necessary for a better living. Communities have thus been forced to design and develop alternative means through which to cater for this deficit. This has been critical in trying to reduce emergence of criminal activities and accelerated crime rates as individual gets engage in legitimate productive activities.
Crime is a vice that has entangled human society for centuries. The sources of crime range from external to innate biological and psychological factors. The socioeconomic structure of the society one lives in is critical in explaining crime causation. The culture created over time also greatly dictates the behavior of persons brought up in the same. A biological and psychological examination explains more why an individual is engaged in some criminal activities even more than the social factors does. This is because most inherited genetic traits influence future adult behavior. More so early childhood experiences have a bearing in explaining adult behaviors. With this kind of information one should bring up their kids in socially acceptable environment and try to address delinquent behaviors whenever they are depicted accordingly. Through such a move we could be able to come up with a humble community with very few cases of criminal activities, in which individuals will have learnt to adhere to the societal control and engage in legitimate activities.