Understanding Criminology Theories – Figuring Out Crime

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Understanding Criminology Theories

To understand crime and criminal justice, it is vital to understand all the criminology theories first. It makes our knowledge about why people commit crimes better.

Although no theory provides us with all types of crimes and their jurisdiction, every single theory covers a more significant criminology portion.


Ever tried to understand why certain crimes happen? What could be the possible reason or motive behind an individual’s deviant behavior? Why people commit crimes?

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A good theory helps us to understand the manifestation of behavior.

No theory covers all the aspects of crime and delinquency. But each theory covers a reasonable portion to make us understand crime and delinquency in that area.

All these theories integrate under the umbrella of one complete theory. These theories cover all the psychological, biological, social, and behavioral aspects of crime and borrow the constructs from each other to combine them in one single theory.

The goal of criminology theories is to make one understand crime and justice.

Individual theories can be macro or micro.

It is essential to know why people commit crimes and how the crimes can be prevented?

With a better understanding of criminal behavior, we can prevent and fight the possible causes of crime.

So we can say that studying criminology theories provide a benefit to overall society.

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Criminal Justice Theories

It is essential to know about crime and its jurisdiction. Understanding crime and delinquency and how the law works against them are covered in criminal justice theories.

These theories can be divided into four major groups.


Psychological TheoriesPsychological-Theories

These theories suggest that low IQ level, psychopathic behavior, irresponsible behavior, less empathy towards people, and mental illness may contribute to criminal behavior.


Social Theories 

Social-crime-Theories Do social theories suggest that a particular area’s social environment is correlated with the criminal acts of individuals regardless of who lives there?

Poverty, high unemployment rate, increased mobility, and infant mortality rate contribute to criminal behavior in a specific area.


Behavioral Theoriesbehvioural-Criminology-Theories

This theory suggests that crime is also learned like any other activity or skill. Our response to environmental stimuli shapes our actions.


Biological Theories

Biological-criminology-TheoriesDoes crime has something to do with biological factors? Biological theories suggest ” yes.” Some people are born criminals than others.

Under the umbrella of these four theories, we can further propose some other theories that can explain the above theories well. These criminology theories are


Rational Choice Theory 

Rational-Choice-criminology-TheoryThe rational choice theory focuses on an individual’s interest in committing crimes.

People commit crimes for their interests. And they find reward more attractive than the feeling of committing a crime or the risk of getting caught.

This theory tells us that people who commit crimes for personal interests always weigh their possible risks and potential reward.

So it is like, they choose to commit a crime. They plan for it and may take time to weigh possible risk factors and work to get rid of them.


Social Disorganization Theory 

Social-Disorganization-criminology-theorySocial disorganization theory suggests that a person’s environment is responsible for individual choices sometimes. With a supportive environment, a person can do crime and hide it well.

For example, a poor area with a low employment rate will have a comparatively high crime rate.

Or an empty building can provide shelter for many criminal activities.

A rough social structure will support both crime and criminal.


Strain Theory

Strain-TheoryStrain theory suggests that when people fail to achieve according to society’s expectations, they try to gain shortcut success through crime. Delayed success or gratification arouse negative feelings in them, and they choose to commit crimes.

When people do not get the opportunity or do not have the ability to achieve success, they try to meet social expectations of success through negative means.


Social Learning Theory

Social-Learning-criminology-theory“A man is known by the company he keeps” is quite a sensible and true proverb. Sometimes people absorb the idea of crime from the people with whom they associate with.

Social learning theory suggests that the social environment plays a vital role in an individual’s actions, and they can get motivation and skills to commit crime from people around them.


Social Control Theory 

Social-Control-theorySociety controls individuals through certain institutions like schools, churches, and workplaces, etc. These institutions provide a set of rules to live in a community. But everyone is not willing to handle the pressure these controls put on an individual’s life. So they choose to either control or break the rules and end up committing crimes.


Labeling Theory

Labeling-criminology-TheoryLabels are far more potent than what we can expect them to be. When influential people in society get the power to label acts as “crime.” Society follows. And the people labeled as “criminals” face a reaction from society.

Society shuts the door of opportunities for these criminals, which results in more criminal behavior. People get offended by labels that society puts on them and behave in a deviant way to pressure society.


Genetic Theory 

Genetic-criminology-theoryBiological and genetic theory suggests that mental illness or poor diet, or a weak brain can be the proposed explanation of crime.

In the study between criminals and non criminals, the theory suggests that some born criminals may be due to biological inferiority vs. personal choice.

Other biological factors that can contribute to criminal behavior are hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiencies, weak brain functions, etc.


Routine Activity Theory

Routine-Activity-criminology-theoryRoutine activity theory proposes that people’s daily routine in a social environment can create an opportunity for crime. For example, where they live? Where do they work? What is a route to their workplace? Which people do they meet or see? What are the places they visit frequently? All these factors Can create an opportunity for crime and can make crime less risky for them.


Self Control Theory 

Self-Control-criminology-theorySelf-control theory suggests that some people commit crimes due to a lack of self control over themselves. This theory also suggests that people who had questionable parenting at a younger age have less self control over themselves than those who were raised under better parenting.

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