Rational Choice Theory Essay

1246 Words5 Pages
There are three main points that are reinforced in rational choice theory (Cornish and Clarke, 1986). First, it may work better or worse for different types of crime, yet it is thought that there are rational choices in every type of crime even impulsive and pathologic crimes. Second, the theory should be applied on a crime-specific basis. Hence, burglaries can’t be grouped together in among residential and commercial categories. Rather, they must be broken into smaller facets such as public housing burglaries or wealthy residential neighborhoods. Finally, a distinction is made between criminal involvement and criminal events. Criminal involvement describes how individuals get involved in crime and further continue or abstain from…show more content…
The later occurs when a specific offender is deterred from crime through sanctions. Thus, the benefits and drawbacks of crime have sway with both deterrence and rational choice theories, but rational choice doesn’t make headway for a population as a whole or limit the individual to those previously punished. The strengths of the rational choice theory are also seen when comparing it to the routine activity theory, which proposes that three elements are needed for crime: motivated offenders, suitable targets, and the absence of capable guardians (Cohen and Felson, 1979). Hence, environmental conditions must be right for crime to occur. This relates to one similarity of the rational choice theory, which is the account for situational variables such as the likelihood of punishment (Cornish and Clarke, 1986). In contrast, routine activity theory doesn’t look at why the individual commits crime (Cohen and Felson, 1979). Instead, this propensity is assumed, while the rational choice theory looks specifically at the reasons individuals commit offenses. The broken windows theory reduces the cause of crime to the amount of disorder in a community (Wilson and Kelling, 1982). Basically, if there are broken windows in buildings it can result in allowing more vandalism, which leads more riff-raff on the streets. This creates a fear for citizens to go out in the neighborhood, which limits the visibility of proactive
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