The Most Popular Criminology Theories

Criminology is defined as the study of why people participate in crime and why they do not. As a whole, criminology covers a wide range of subjects such as corrections, psychology, juvenile delinquency, and criminal justice. It also proposes numerous ideas for those subjects. The theories that I chose to cover today, that are known as one the most popular theories, are strain theory created by Robert K. Merkon, deterrence theory and rational choice theory. All three theories share the same idea of crime causation. However, all three models do have different practices when it comes to the study of crime itself.

To start preemptively, Robert K. Merkon developed a theory in the 1940s called strain theory. Strain theory comes in different forms. However, one thing that all of the forms have in common is that they have an emphasis on crime causation itself. The theory as a whole was a sociology and criminology theory which states that society inclines to put pressure on certain people to accomplish socially accepted goals.

To illustrate, most people are raised with the idea that in order for you to have a great paying job or career, one must attend college. However, this was later deemed as unrealistic thinking and processing. Strain theory became more popular and notable during the time of its publication, which was between the late 1930s and early 1940s. This was during the Great Depression era, which by this time it would be agreeable that society was prepared for an idea such as strain theory.

According to Merkon, there were five adaptations to strain theory, there was conformity, ritualism, innovation, retreatism, and rebellion. These adaptations were said to be more likely to lead to offendable acts of the law in an individual’s future. Merkon was not the only one that was traced back in the involvement in developing the idea of strain theory, it was also credited that Emile Durkheim had some heavy influence on the development of strain theory.

More so, there are other well-known criminology theories aside from strain theory. During the Age of Enlightenment, which took place between the 17th and 18th centuries, some theories were mainly and religiously focused on supernatural causes of crime. The supernatural has always fascinated and puzzled many during this era of time, that it brought about the Classical School theories of crime. To elaborate and establish, Classical School was a model of crime that assumed that crime happens after coherent or rational individuals mentally weigh out the potential decent or awful consequences of crime. One of the Classical School theories is the deterrence theory.

Furthermore, Deterrence is when an individual’s fear of punishment influences the individual to obey and conform to the laws. Deterrence theory, which was developed by Thomas Hobbes, Cesare Beccaria, and Jeremy Bentham, is defined as one of the first rational theories of crime. Together, the theorists went up against the legal polices that had taken over European thought for a good majority of the time. Eventually, these theorists would provide the foundation for modern deterrence in today’s society.

To explain in further detail, this particular theory explains the proposition that individuals will make rational decisions concerning their behavior. To illustrate, if one were to think about committing robbery on a store in an attempt to steal as much money as possible, the same individual would probably be having second thoughts. Their rational thinking would immediately kick in before committing the act and this would deter them from engaging in criminal activity.

In conclusion to deterrence theory, it is just a framework to how some potential criminals could talk themselves out of committing crimes. Another Classical School theory that shares a lot of similarities with deterrence theory is rational choice theory.

Additionally, the rational choice theory is another Classic School model or perspective for explaining crime which includes the formal deterrence aspects and other factors that shows consistent and strong behavior.