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Why Does Crime Exist in Society? Essay

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Updated: Sep 9th, 2022


Crime can be said to exist for many reasons. Some argue it is a natural part of life that will occur under nearly any circumstances while others argue that it can be controlled or all but eliminated by employing certain structures within society (Hickey, 2007). While it is commonly advised to make a clear distinction between deviance and crime, the same underlying principle that deviance aids in affirming the standards and values of society hold true to crime in the practical sense for all practical purposes. Philosophically this is the equivalent of saying that without evil one would not recognize good, and while this is evident in the criminal world and the world of law, it only provides some explanation as to why crime actually exists on a tangible level. While crime does in fact seem to reaffirm values and may occasionally assist in social changes, it is not rational or logical to claim that this is actually why it exists. This is the reverse of cause-and-effect thinking, and thus faulty. Needs for change in social norms may cause crime, and while these may be recognized the claim cannot be extended that crime is there waiting to help us see what needs to change. Criminals do not exist as harbingers of change waiting to reveal the truths of social existence. Statistics may be analyzed in such a way that similar conclusions can be drawn, however again this is not evidence that crime actually exists to help with changes that need to be made. Claiming that it exists to show us the positive values are in fact positive is on the same order of faultiness with regards to logic.

Possible reasoning

Many people have been trying to explain crime and find the reasoning behind it, while many philosophers and other theorists offer various explanations as to why crimes are committed. American society is based on social control, as are many other societies in modern times. Laws exist and are enforced on many levels on a constant basis. Police, lawyers, judges, and many other people function for the sole purpose of maintaining a level of social control. Society decides what is criminal and what is not, while many acts which are considered crimes by society can be twisted to be seen as either justifiable or even a fair or proper course of action for philosophical ideals such as revenge or other issues of equality. While many scientists have attempted to find genetic differences in criminals, nothing has been found as of yet which offers a sound and thorough explanation which is applicable to all or even the majority of criminals. Most studies have focused more on the environmental effects of society to drive people to commit a crime, and while this provides insight into a high number of statistics, it does provide answers on a general or fundamental level (SH, 2008). Psychological profiling has been attempted on a wide scale only to find a large number of people who have been convicted of crimes are psychologically “normal.” Some suggest that while society shares a common view of what is and is not acceptable, people will always be testing the level in this respect for the same reasons a child tests the boundaries of his parent, for the simple sake of analysis and understanding while providing themselves with a maximum amount of freedom and personal gain (SH, 2008). This has not been proven to be true nor is likely to be able to be proven to be true, but is highly regarded in theory.


Ultimately, there is no universal and wholly accepted reason for why crime exists. The question is ultimately too general, and while moral norms are reaffirmed and social changes are incited in some cases, these were the end results of the crime and not the underlying causes. Crimes are likely committed for every and all reasons formulated by theorists and analysts. It would seem surprising if one specific answer was found for a subject so broad.


  1. Hickey, T. (2007). Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Crime and Criminology. McGraw-Hill.
  2. SH. (2008). Lecture 6: Crime and Deviance.
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