Describe Sociological Theories of Criminality

Describe Sociological Theories of Criminality

Sociological Theories of Criminality

Social Structure Theories

  • Social Disorganization Theory: This theory suggests that high crime rates are a result of breakdown in traditional institutions, such as family and school.
  • Strain Theory: An individual’s circumstances and experiences in society may lead to criminal behaviour. Lack of equal access to institutionalised goals may cause strain, pushing individuals towards crime.

Social Process Theories

  • Learning Theory: Also known as social learning or differential association theory, it postulates that we learn criminal behaviour much like any other behaviour: through interaction with others.
  • Control Theory: It suggests that societal norms, values, and structures are fundamental to controlling criminal behaviour. People conform because they fear punishment or due to their strong bond with society.

Cultural Deviance Theories

  • Subculture Theory: Argues that delinquent behaviour is often the result of individuals conforming to the values and norms of certain groups. These values and norms often contradict mainstream societal norms.
  • Labelling Theory: Suggests that criminal behaviour can be a result of being labelled as a ‘criminal’. It explores how societal reaction can lead to further criminal behaviour.

Contemporary Theories

  • Conflict Theory: This theory views crime as a result of conflict in society, such as differences in wealth and power. Crime is seen as a response to the pressures and demands of life within these socio-economic structures.
  • Feminist Criminology: Looks into the importance of gender in understanding criminal behaviour. It emphasises on the patterns of victimisation and criminality among women.

Remember, no single theory can fully explain why all types of crime occur. The most effective approach for understanding criminal behaviour is likely a combination of these theories.