Therefore, in response to criminal actions, the rules and laws of a system are developed. It is their presence that represents the glue of the social parts.
One shortcoming of this theory however is the fact that it cannot explain the motivation behind the actual existence of criminal behavior. It tends to perceive the society as a whole, through statistics and factual dates and tries to predict its evolution. Durkheim notes that the continuous existence of the phenomenon is attributed the need of the society for the eventual contribution to the definition of that community. According to him, crimes have a concrete role, as opposed to other theories which fight against such attributions. Thus, identifying criminals draws the limit of correct behavior, by exerting severe punishment; there is a clear notion of the most valuable values in the respective society. Moreover, criminal activities often result in the change of certain social realities, one example being the actions of Martin Luther King. One final concluding fact is that the existence of crimes shows a limited control over the citizens.
Opposing this view is the labeling theory....
It takes a distinctive approach from the functionalist models by emphasizing the negative consequences categorizing human actions in the criminal system. One of the most important figures of this theory, Leslie White, considers that attaching different labels to humans has deep consequences over future behavior. (White, 1969) It has a double role. On the one hand, it shows the way in which the society perceives him as an individual and on the other, the way in which he interprets the meaning of the symbol. Mead argues in this respect the fact that there can be certain contradictions between the two perspectives and thus conflict may arise. (Mead, 1934) However, there are opinions that do not consider labeling to be a source for criminal behavior, Triplett arguing that labeling alone does not cause delinquent behavior, but must be associated with the reward system in which the individual operates. (Triplett, 1990) A moderate stand is taken by Lemert who considers that labeling cannot offer an explanation to primary deviance but to secondary ones. (Lemert, 1967) Labeling encourages the definition of certain attitudes in consideration of subjective norms that can alienate the individual and can push him towards recidivating.
All in all, there have been numerous attempts to find the root causes of criminal behavior, the choices made in such states and the positive or negative effects the existence of such behavior has on the society. Nonetheless, despite these efforts, there is still much need of research and interpretation in order to find satisfying answers.
Larry Siegel, (1992). Criminology. New York: West Publishing.
Lemert, Edwin. (1967). Human Deviance, Social Problems and Social Control. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
Mead, George H. (1934). Mind, Self and Society. C. Morris (ed). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Triplett, Ruth. (1990). Labeling and Differential Association: The Effects on Delinquent Behavior. University of Maryland. Wellford, Charles F.
White, Leslie A. (1969) The symbol.…
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