Sociological Theory - Theories in Subfields of Sociology - Criminology


  • The general theory of crime: States that the main factor behind criminal behaviour is the individual's lack of self-control.
  • Differential association theory: The theory was developed by Edwin Sutherland and it examines the acts of a criminal from the perspective that they are learned behaviours.
  • Labeling theory: It is the main idea that deviance and conformity result not so much from what people do as from how others respond to these actions. It also states that a society's reaction to specific behaviors are a major determinant of how a person may come to adopt a "deviant" label. This theory stresses the relativity of deviance, the idea that people may define the same behavior in any number of ways. Thus the labelling theory is a micro-level analysis and is often classified in the social-interactionist approach. Bryant, Lee. "The Labelling Theory", History Learning Site, 2000-2012, retrieved March 13, 2013.
  • Control theory: The theory was developed by Travis Hirschi and it states that a weak bond between an individual and society itself allows the individual to defy societal norms and adopt behaviors that are deviant in nature.
  • Rational choice theory: States that people commit crimes when it is rational for them to do so according to analyses of costs and benefits, and that crime can be reduced by minimizing benefits and maximizing costs to the "would be" criminal.
  • Social disorganization theory: States that crime is more likely to occur in areas where social institutions are unable to directly control groups of individuals.
  • Social learning theory: States that people adopt new behaviors through observational learning in their environments.
  • Strain theory: States that a social structure within a society may cause people to commit crimes. Specifically, the extent and type of deviance people engage in depend on whether a society provides the means to achieve cultural goals.
  • Subcultural theory: States that behavior is influenced by factors such as class, ethnicity, and family status. This theory's primary focus is on juvenile delinquency.
  • Psychopath: serious criminals who do not feel shame or guilt from their actions. They do not fear punishment and have little sympathy for the people they harm. These individuals are said to have a psychological disorder as psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder. They exhibit a variety of maladaptive traits such as rarely experiencing genuine affection for others. They are skilled at faking affection, are irresponsible, impulsive, tolerate little frustration and they pursue immediate gratification. Robert Hare, one of the world's leading experts on psychopathy, developed an important assessment device for psychopathy, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. For many, this measure is the single, most important advancement to date toward what will hopefully become our ultimate understanding of psychopathy (McCann, Weiten, 641).
  • Containment theory: when an individual has a stronger conscience it will make one more tolerable to frustrations and therefore are less likely to be involved in criminal activities.
  • White-collar crime: defined by Edwin Sutherland as crime committed by persons of high social position in the course of their occupation (Sutherland and Cressey, 1978:44). The white-collar crime involves people making use of their occupational position to enrich themselves and others illegally, which often causes public harm. In white-collar crime, public harm wreaked by false advertising, marketing of unsafe products, embezzlement, and bribery of public officials is more extensive than most people think, most of which go unnoticed and unpunished.
  • Corporate crime: refers to the illegal actions of a corporation or people acting on its behalf. Corporate crime ranges from knowingly selling faulty or dangerous products to purposely polluting the environment. Like white-collar crime, most cases of corporate crime go unpunished, and many are not never even known to the public.
  • Organized crime: a business that supplies illegal goods or services, including sex, drugs, and gambling. This type of crime expanded among immigrants, who found that society was not always willing to share its opportunities with them. A famous example of organized crime is the Italian Mafia.
  • Hate crime: a criminal act against a person or a person's property by an offender motivated by racial, ethnic, religious or other bias. Hate crimes may refer to race,ancestry,religion, sexual orientation and physical disabilities. According to a Statistics Canada publication, "Jewish" community has been the most likely the victim of hate crime in Canada during 2001-2002. Overall, about 57 percent of hate crimes are motivated by ethnicity and race, targeting mainly Blacks and Asians, while 43 percent target religion, mainly Judaism and Islam. A relatively small 9 percent is motivated by sexual orientation, targets gays and lesbians.

Physical traits do not distinguish criminals from non criminals, but genetic factors together with environmental factors are strong predictors of adult crime and violence. Most psychologists see deviance as the result of "unsuccessful" socialization and abnormality in an individual personality.

Read more about this topic:  Sociological Theory, Theories in Subfields of Sociology

Other articles related to "criminology":

Lawrence W. Sherman
... Since 2007 he has been the Wolfson Professor of Criminology and from 2012 the Director of the Cambridge Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University ... Professor in 1998 at the University of Maryland's Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice in College Park ... justice, police practices and experimental criminology ...
Robert J. Sampson - Career
... book award from the American Society of Criminology ... The book received the outstanding book award from the American Society of Criminology in 2004 ... In 2011, he and fellow sociologist John Laub received the Stockholm Prize in Criminology for their achievements in the field of criminology ...
Lawrence W. Sherman - Awards and Honors
... In 1998 he became the Founding President of the Academy of Experimental Criminology and in 1999 was elected a fellow of the Academy ... him with the Joan McCord Award for Outstanding Contributions to Experimental Criminology ... a fellow of the American Society of Criminology ...
Criminology - Subtopics
... Areas of study in criminology include Comparative criminology, which is the study of the social phenomenon of crime across cultures, to identify differences and similarities in crime ...
Computational Forensics - Areas of Usage
... Computational criminology is interdisciplinary in the sense that both criminologists and computing scientists work together to ensure that computational ... Areas of criminology for which computational approaches are being used include Environmental Criminology Identity Theft Justice ...