Biological, Biosocial, Classical Theories Biological, Term Paper
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Biological explanations, in contrast to fair and severe punishment as advocated by classical theorists, stress the need for institutionalization and psychological and medical treatment for the 'ill,' but they also offers what seems like a defeatist attitude towards the improvement of the criminal, as the criminal has no rational choice in his or her behavior. The presumption is that irrationally generated behavior cannot be conditioned out of the individual through incarceration, and criminality must be treated like an illness, although opinions differ as to the best way to go about treating the individual so the criminal is 'cured' of the crime, or if a cure is even possible.
However, biosocial theories suggest that society plays an important role in causing crime, such as social learning theory: "Some children are raised in families in which violence is used as a means to achieve desires. Abusive parents model to their children that violent behavior is acceptable. Boys see that males are expected to act aggressively, while girls learn that to be the victim of directed violence is the norm. Similarly, during the teen years youth often substitute peers for parents as their primary role models. As adolescent masculinity is often expressed in action rather than cerebral activities (thus bright boys are labeled as "geeks" and "nerds"), boys often act out and find themselves rewarded by other males and by responses from adolescent girls" (Greek 2005). The media and peer pressures can make crime seem more attractive. In short, people without a genetic disposition to crime can still make the irrational decision to engage in criminal behavior, because their environment makes such choice seem rational, pleasurable, or attractive. Imminent punishment may seem far away to an adolescent's mindset, or to an impoverished person, the threat of severe punishment seems meaningless, if
he or she believes circumstances are desperate. Thus this social model still includes an element of choice, like the classical theory, although the individual actors are making deviant choices that poorly serve themselves as well as their community. Biosocial theories stress that even normal individuals can exhibit the inability to fully evaluate or exercise a fruitful range of options to create a future.
Social labeling theory is another biosocial approach that takes an even more radical approach to the limits of individual choice: "labeling theory shifted focus from positive systemic benefits of deviance to the negative consequences of stigmatization for those so labeled as criminals, delinquents, and deviants" (Greek 2005) as criminals are stigmatized, they enjoy a reduced ability to enjoy the benefits of the social contract and become further disposed to act in a deviant fashion. Social labeling theory suggests that a society 'needs' criminals to show who is normal, and paradoxically the existence of crime validates the need for the state and social controls.
Biosocial theories stress that there is a need for society to change, as well as for the individual to change. Society must present so-called criminals with a greater range of life options, so that choosing to behave in more positive and productive ways seems more desirable and rational. New role models are needed for individuals in crime-ridden areas that do not validate the existence of a life of crime. However, the one aspect of crime prevention and treatment both the biosocial and classical schools do agree upon is the need to make crime less attractive through prevention, through the use of a positive police presence in communities, neighborhood watch groups, and vigilance of the community by law-abiding citizens. A positive law-abiding community will make the idea of committing crimes seem emotionally and socially as well as rationally less attractive.
Greek, Cecil. (2005). "Criminological Theory." Retrieved 17 Dec 2007 at http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/lectures.htm
Keel, Robert. (12 Feb 2007). "Biological and Psychological Theories of Deviance." Retrieved 17 Dec 2007 at http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/200/biotheor.html
Keel, Robert. (12 Feb 2007). "Theories of Deviance." Retrieved 17 Dec 2007 at http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/200/devtheor.html
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