Sociological and Psychological Theories of Crime Causation

1978 Words May 29th, 2012 8 Pages
Sociological and Psychological Theories of Crime Causation

The aim of this essay is to compare, contrast and evaluate two sociological theories of crime causation and two psychological theories of crime causation.
Sociological Theories of crime, Labelling and Structural Functionalism/ Strain.
Howard Becker is a sociologist that is often credited with the development of the labelling theory. However the origins of this theory can be traced back to sociologists at the beginning of the twentieth century who made invaluable contributions to the creation of the “labelling” concept. The first was Charles Cooley who wrote “Human Nature and the Social Order” in 1902, in which he introduced the term the “looking glass self”. This idea suggests
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The structural functionalism/strain theory is similar to the labelling theory in the sense that it focuses on the influence society has on crime. However unlike labelling, it is the wider structures of society that are cause for concern.
Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist credited with developing the functionalist theory. He believed that society should be viewed as a structure with each person playing a role, creating, to some extent a “functional” society. He also stated that society is held together through mutual acceptance of various norms and values. Durkheim published “Suicide” in 1897, which as the title suggests is centred round suicide and the patterns of suicide within society, a subject which at the time was seen as taboo. He believed that sociological influences were contributing factors of suicide, although the act itself is considered by society to be, one of individual choice. Durkheim also suggested that “anomie” played a pivotal role in suicide.
Crime was seen by Durkheim as inevitable, he argued that a constant level of crime can be functional and only becomes harmful to society when crime rates are abnormally high or low. According to Durkheim the purpose of punishment is not to eliminate crime completely but rather to maintain the norms and values of the majority, in order to keep a relative amount of “social order”.
Robert Merton developed some of Durkheim’s ideas, arguing that deviance
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