The philosophy of crime causation has its roots in antique philosophy. Aristotle believed that crime was directly contingent on poverty. This is why he claimed that poverty was the core premise of revolts and outbreaks. Medieval philosophy representatives believed that crime is dependent on the manifestation of social situations (Anderson, 2015). Francis Bacon, for instance, claimed that human behavior was opportunity-related and relied on the events that took place within a certain time frame. French Renaissance philosophers developed the idea of free will. Voltaire stated that crime is a manifestation of self-indulgent attitude and inability to go in line with the social obligations (Anderson, 2015). In classical criminology, crime is the ultimate incorporation of the wrongdoers’ beliefs and their expectations. The latter can also be identified as a supposition that the criminal will never get caught.
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Crime Causation Theories
Social Learning Theory
This theory is considered to be one of the most popular among the crime causation theories. It first appeared in 1973, when Albert Bandura claimed that belligerent behavior could be learned (Winters, Globokar, & Roberson, 2014). He also added that the impact of a variety of biological aspects should not be disregarded. According to Bandura, there are two types of social learning – direct and indirect. The former can be characterized as the outcome of the constructive or adverse influence of rewards/ penalties on the individual’s behavior (Siegel, 2015). Bandura claimed that excessive aggression generates a chain reaction in the punishable. On a bigger scale, an undesirable association between the parents and their child may appear in the case of corporal punishments. Social learning may also be defined as indirect when an individual perceives other people’s behavior as necessary or unnecessary.
Theory of Frustration Aggressiveness
This theory first appeared in 1939 and was developed by John Dollard. He believed that frustration could be one of the most authentic causes of crime. The feeling of discomfort caused dissatisfaction in the individuals who could not accomplish their objectives or resolve their issues (Wagner, 2013). For instance, among juvenile criminals, one of the most common crime causes is the inability to graduate. On the other hand, Dollard claimed that frustration is not always the premise for aggressive behavior (Siegel, 2015). Numerous conditions can be considered causal in terms of triggering aggression. As stated by Dollard, frustration may become the cause of a crime, but it does not always result in the manifestation of aggression and consequent illicit activity.
Social anomie can be described as a mismatch between the actual desires of an individual and their abilities to gratify those needs. This theory is the oldest among the theories reviewed within the framework of this paper. Social anomie can be explained as the alienation of the individual whose personal efforts and the fulfillment of social obligations were not appreciated in full (Siegel, 2015). This is where the crucial moment takes place because others may not be able to understand the behavioral transformations of the alienated individual. For instance, the latter may switch to an easier behavioral model – to steal is easier than to find a job (Wagner, 2013). Social anomie can transpire when there is a lack of care, trust, and mutuality. Social support is one of the most important mitigatory aspects intended to contrast the individual’s wrongful behavior. The conflict between irrelevant and new values can also trigger social anomie.
Anderson, J. F. (2015). Criminological theories: Understanding crime in America. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Siegel, L. J. (2015). Criminology: The core (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Wagner, W. E. (2013). Practice of research in criminology and criminal justice. New York, NY: Sage.
Winters, R., Globokar, J., & Roberson, C. (2014). An introduction to crime and crime causation. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.