The notion of crime being individual oriented has been propagated by the classical school of thoughts and has been held by early philosophers the likes of Bentham and Mills. This thinking is driven by the assumption of a man being a rational being who is motivated by the need to maximize utility. The rational choice theory has been the key influence behind this.
Originating in the 18th century, the rational choice theory according to Gennaro, Jeffrey & Ronald (2006, 67) is that “people weigh the costs or consequences of crime against the benefit of crime prior to engaging in criminal behavior and choose criminal behavior when the rewards outweigh the costs. ” People hence make their decision to engage in crime after a careful analysis of their situations and putting into consideration the benefits and the costs that are associated with that crime.
A similar thinking is also propagated by the Economic Theory of crime, which represents a strong emphasis on an individual’s choice and making of rational decision. The only failure in this theory as has been observed is its failure to recognize other factors beyond financial gain and costs, “most people do not refrain from crime simply because their economic analysis shows that it will not pay but because they feel that it is wrong or unethical.
” (Andrew, 2002, 76) This theory however puts across an important point, crime is driven by the desire to increase utility, and it is like a business venture that involves making of choices and achieving goals. Individuals pick the choice that will maximize their utility and realize their goals (Satyanshu & Adam, 1997).
An analysis of the above theories of crime indicates that they represent a radical departure from each other, while the Chicago school of thought underline the aspect of social circumstances, the positivist school sees crime and criminality as natural forces that are beyond human control, they have disregarded the factor of choice in crime.
Indeed, social factors like poverty and unemployment can increase the prevalence of crime in a certain neighborhoods but the bottom-line lies in the individual choice. This hence means that there is no particular group that is more prone to crime than any other, all people can engage in crime should there be conditions that necessitate crime and should they gain to maximize their utility by committing that crime.
The aspect of opportunity and information also crops in, people do not just find themselves in crime just like that, they do so after careful cultivation, analysis and also in possession of ample information about the crime they are to engage in. There are however differences in the tendency to engage in crime from one individual to another, this is driven by the differences in preferences and also factors such as ethics. The status of a person may prevent him or her to engage in crime mostly due to the fear of losing his or her reputation.
It is undeniable hence that crime is as a result of individuals making rational choices and weighing the resultant costs and benefits, crime is considered to be a viable venture if the benefits outweigh the costs, it is deterred if the costs are seen as overriding the likely benefits. References Adam G. , Peter N. (2002) The Cambridge Handbook of Australian Criminology. Cambridge University Press. Andrew M. K. (2002) Economics as a Social Science: An Approach to Nonautistic Theory.
University of Michigan Press. David L. (2002) Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment: Volumes I-IV. SAGE. Gennaro F. , Jeffrey R. , Ronald M. (2006). Criminology: theory, research, and policy. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Satyanshu K. , Adam G. (1997) Crime and justice in Australia, 1997. Australian Institute of Criminology. Hawkins Press. Sandra W. (2005) Criminology: the basics. Taylor & Francis. Ted P. (2003) Playing God? : genetic determinism and human freedom. Routledge.