Sociology - Crime Theories Making Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

In this view, the fact that underprivileged subcultures already promoted a different set of social values emphasizing "street smarts" and toughness instead of socially productive attributes and goals combined with the substitution of deviant role models for father figures is a significant source of criminal conduct, particularly in poor communities (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2008).

Other modern sociological perspectives began reconsidering crime and other forms of socially deviant behavior as primarily a function of individual psychology.

However, whereas earlier theories of individual responsibility focused on the role of rational choice, the modern approach viewed crime much more as a function of the cumulative psychological effects on the individual of the consequences of social labeling.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that much of the difference in crime rates in underprivileged communities also relates directly to the different types of characterizations and institutional responses to different types of crime in American society. Typically, many of the types of so-called "street crimes" that occur in poor communities involve violence and result in more intensive police response than the types of crimes that typically occur in middle and upper class communities. Even though so- called "white collar" crime such as those perpetrated by Bernard Madoff generally involve much larger financial losses, violent crime is usually associated with more intense police response. Even where violence is involved, incidents of middle class delinquency often results in much more lenient enforcement, mainly by virtue of the identity and social class of the perpetrators (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2008).

Finally, 20th century criminologists have also offered specific reasons that certain individuals become involved in crime out of perceived necessity, such as radical feminism and delinquent female subcultures attributable to the long-term responses to the underprivileged status of females in the post-Industrial Revolution era, and to early abuse and physical, psychological, and sexual trauma experienced by many females in underprivileged segments of contemporary society (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2008).


The most comprehensive explanation of crime in contemporary society probably includes elements of many theories and decreased reliance on any single perspective in particular. The social progress and wide-scale incorporation of modern concepts established during the Civil Rights era of U.S. history have largely eliminated the relevance of crime theories that rely on class struggle of social conflict between specific segments of society. On the other hand, the relative absence of productive alternatives to crime in poor communities, the continuing relevance of Miller's Theory in those communities, and the realities of socialization where deviant subcultures (i.e. organized gang activities and youth recruitment) frequently out-compete the positive influence of more appropriate role models all contribute substantially to crime in contemporary American society. Nevertheless, the explanation of criminality and social deviance must also recognize the contribution of rational choice, which is demonstrated equally at both ends of the spectrum by underprivileged individuals who overcome their circumstances without resorting to crime and by more privileged individuals who make the choice to perpetrate crime despite their relative social advantages. Undoubtedly, volitional choice, social opportunity (and lack thereof), and various specific external influences on the individual all combine in criminal manifestations. Ultimately, crime is likely attributable to psychological influences on the individual, subtle genetic variation, relative social advantage or disadvantage, and the specific volitional choices made by every mentally competent individual.


John Adler, John Mueller, and John Laufer. Criminology (6th Edition). City, State:

McGraw-Hill, 2008. MLA

Adler J, Mueller J, and Laufer J. (2008). Criminology…

Sources Used in Document:


John Adler, John Mueller, and John Laufer. Criminology (6th Edition). City, State:

McGraw-Hill, 2008. MLA

Adler J, Mueller J, and Laufer J. (2008). Criminology (6th Edition). City, State: McGraw-Hill. APA

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