Criminological Theory: Context and Consequences

Introduction

The exploration of the notion of criminality and crime is essential for the prevention and management thereof. Thus, a profound analysis of crime as a notion. Its implications, and patterns is a critical aspect of managing breaches of the present-day laws. However, the study of the subject matter will require taking a particular stance on the issue and applying a set of academic ideas and notions that pertain to a particular theory (Hagan & Daigle, 2018). Herein lies the necessity to view each of the essential theoretical frameworks. Although each of the theoretical approaches considered below introduces a unique perspective on the analysis, management, and prevention of crime, all of them are bound by the same set of principles, particularly, ethical standards.

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Positivism versus the Classical School

The juxtaposition between the School of Positivism and the Classical School of criminology suggests viewing the subject matter from the standpoint of an individual and the concept of human dignity. The Classical School promoted the notion of humanization in the legal system (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2018). The described alterations allowed placing emphasis on the rehabilitation of perpetrators rather than their punishment, which led to the possibility of their further reintegration into the society (Reid, 2017). The School of Positivism, in turn, tended to define criminal behaviors as inherent, thus dehumanizing perpetrators and creating the justice system that did not allow for a positive change in the attitudes and behaviors of criminals (Carrier & Walby, 2015). Thus, the shift toward the Classical Theory and the notion of humanization as the platform for making the society safer could be seen as an important step forward in criminology.

The Chicago School

With a change in the specifics of social relationships, alterations were made to the criminological theory. Due to the rise in the rates of urbanization and the ensuring problems, the difficulties associated with the urban environment were seen as the breeding ground for deviant behaviors and the development of criminal behaviors (Lilly et al., 2018). Known as the Chicago School, the described framework of crime analysis differs significantly from the rest of the approaches. The “broad liberal movement,” by which the macrosocial environment of the U.S. could be characterized, spurred subsequent theories of crime that were rooted in the analysis of the flaws of the American social system and the hierarchy of the U.S. society (Lilly et al., 2018, p. 33). Therefore, the Chicago school can be described as an interesting yet rather biased approach to the analysis of crime due to the emphasis on a single contributor to it. The development of the Chicago School theory helped to step away from the generalizations on which the Classical theories insisted.

Anomie and Strain Theories

Continuing the idea of humanism in the context of the legal system, the Anomie and Strain Theories of Criminology allowed to further the discussion by adding the notion of social pressure to the analysis. The Strain Theory suggests that, by necessitating the achievement of particular social standards established within a certain cultural context, one is likely to seek the means that may fail to align with the set legal principles (Reid, 2017). The concept of anomie, also known as “normlessness, or degradation” was woven into the discourse in order to provide a scientific explanation of the phenomena observed in the civil society (Lilly et al., 2018, p. 62). The described framework implies that, by stretching the idea of legality and allowing for a wider range of exceptions into it, one creates the premises for a rise in the levels of crime and delinquent behaviors among citizens (Lilly et al., 2018). Offering a rational explanation of the chaotic universe of crime, the described theory quickly became an important part of the analysis.

Unlike the theoretical framework provided by the Chicago School, the Strain Theory does not imply that one’s social status is tied inherently to one’s propensity toward delinquent behaviors. Therefore, the introduction of the Strain Theory into the context of the contemporary criminology allows avoiding biases and prejudices that may lead to disparities in the legal system (Lilly et al., 2018). Moreover, the introduction of the notion of the anomie helps to develop an understanding of the decisions made by individuals when considering committing a crime (Kaufman & Agnew, 2017). Although the latter is currently not devoid of any possible prejudices and preconceptions, it still offers the basis for fair judgment.

Conclusion

Although the theories under analysis vary in their approach toward analyzing the notion of crime, they are grounded in very similar principles of crime management, especially when considering the ethical foundation for the analysis. Nonetheless, the described principles allow studying the phenomenon of crime quite closely and profoundly, gaining an insightful understanding of what constitutes a crime and what causes it. As a result, approaches toward preventing and addressing crime cases can be developed based on the theories in question. Furthermore, patterns of delinquent behaviors and the factors that shape them can be identified, which makes it possible to create a setting in which the threat of crime can be minimized.

References

Carrier, N., & Walby, K. (2015). Is biosocial criminology a predisposition not to learn from the social sciences? Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology, 7(1), 96-108.

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Hagan, F. E., & Daigle, L. E. (2018). Introduction to criminology: Theories, methods, and criminal behavior (10th ed.).Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing.

Kaufman, J. M., & Agnew, R. (2017). Anomie, strain and subcultural theories of crime. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lilly, J. R., Cullen, F. T., & Ball, R. A. (2018). Criminological theory: Context and consequences (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing.

Reid, S. T. (2017). Crime and criminology (15th ed.). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

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