Criminological Theory

Classical theories of crime were developed by philosophers like Cesare Becaria and Jeremy Betham. According to Werner and Henry in ‘Criminological theory’ classical criminology is essentially an economical theory of crime which focused on criminal acts as they are defined by the law. (Einstadter W and Henry S, 2006). The notion here is that people were free to choose crime as a range of behavior options at their disposal. The choice that one made was largely affected by the costs that were attached to it.

The costs in question could be structured into environmental manipulation according to the rational and the situational theories. Individuals according to these theories carry out a cost benefit analysis before they make the final decision on how to behave. According to Samaha the classical theories were founded on two major pillars which were free will and reason. The rational choice theory is an example of classical theory which suggested that criminals have their own goals when indulging in crime and they choose the approach that has minimal risks.

(Samaha J, 2005). The social conflict theories of crime suggest that there exists conflicting forces in the society between groups with different or varying levels of power. Thorsten Sellin was the first to argue that the conflict that existed in the society had a role to play in as far as crime causality was concerned. He observed that each society had its own culture which was observed by the members. In instances where people failed to adhere to the set rules or norms in the society there was cultural conflict. (Samaha J, 2005).

Another proponent of social conflict theories is William Bonger who argued that crime could be associated with individualistic tendencies of human beings where personal interests were placed above the interests of others in the society. Conflict theorists suggested that there existed a degree of bias in the criminal justice system. Those with power use the legal systems to their advantage or to maintain power and privilege. To them, crime could be attributed to the conflicts that exist in the society. The radical or Marxist theory and the feminism theories of crime are examples of social conflict theories.

The radical theory of crime argues that crime should be blamed on the inequalities in society in terms of economic well being as well as sources of power. It suggests that in society there are always conflicting interests for instance between the rich and the poor, the various races, age groups and genders. Marxist theorists argue that the rich and powerful take control of the legislative process and they make laws to their advantage. They oppress the poor who have no choice but to be innovative to survive. (Burke R, 2005).

Without the legitimate ways or means to acquire financial power and improve their economic conditions the poor tend to register higher incidences or crime when compared to the rich. To the conflict theorists, crimes would be minimized if the society filled the inequalities between the poor and the rich as well as with the various ethnic or racial groups in society. (Akers R, 1999). Feminist theories of crime challenged the male centered nature evident in the criminal justice system. It centered or focused on patriarchy and suggested that male dominance is the main cause of crime in the society.

It also called for an increased attention pertaining women affairs. Feminist theorists argue that there is clear evidence that discrepancies exist in as far as gender and crime are concerned. Some advocate for increased opportunities for women in the society. Others were contented with the submissive role of women in the society while some argued that discrimination was evident against women by men who are the dominant gender in the society. To feminist theorist crimes in the society would be reduced if there was equality between men and women.

To them, the end of sex discrimination would reduce crime rates which they argue is caused by gender inequality or patriarchy. (Lewis Coser) References: Edwin Sutherland and Donald R. Cressey. 1970. Criminology. By Cressey, Donald Ray, 1919-, Sutherland, Edwin H. (Edwin Hardin), 1883-1950 Lippincott Publishers. Eugene McLaughlin and John Muncie. 2005. The Sage Dictionary of Criminology. SAGE Publishers. Gennaro F. Vito, Jeffrey R. Maahs, Ronald M. Holmes, 2006. Criminology: Theory, Research, and Policy. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Gail S Anderson. 2006. Biological Influences on Criminal Behavior.

CRC Press, Lewis Coser. Crime theories and the field of criminology. Retrieved on 3rd December 2008 from http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/1010/1010lect02. htm Louis B. Schlesinger. 2003. Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides. CRC Press, Ronald Akers. 2000. Criminological Theories: Introduction and Evaluation. Taylor & Francis Publishers Roger Hopkins Burke. 2005. An Introduction to Criminological Theory. Willan Publishing, Werner J. Einstadter and Stuart Henry. 2006. Criminological Theory: An Analysis of Its Underlying Assumptions. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers