Crime Is The Result Of Individual Behaviour, Rather Than The Product Of A Socialisation Process”

2412 words - 10 pages

“Crime is the result of individual behaviour, rather than the product of a socialisation process” Discuss.

For decades sociologists from around the world have been debating what factors lead people to commit crime. Some have deduced that individual behaviour is the primary factor while others have concluded that crime is more the product of a socialisation process. In order to understand this contentious issue it is necessary to consider the credibility of a number of theories: physiological, psychological, right realism, Marxism, subculturalism, and left realism. Through the analysis of these theories, a conclusion will then be arrived at as to whether individual behaviour, rather ...view middle of the document...

However, most sociologists tend to approach these theories of physiology, and therefore individual behaviour, as a cause of criminality with caution. For example: Taylor, Walton and Young believe that some physiological theories can be related back to the socialisation process, which undermines any claim that crime is the result of the behaviour of the individual. For example, Eleanor Glenwicks argues that mesomorphs (short but muscular individuals) tend to cause crime. However, Taylor, Walton and Young argue that manual workers develop this shape because of the work they do and they do this work because they are from a working class background. Therefore, it is not their biology, which makes these people more likely to commit crime, but the socialisation process that they are exposed to as working class men. Overall, biological explanations of criminal activity can only provide an answer for a very small proportion of crime. Perhaps the most significant factor which prevents these physiological theories from effectively supporting the arguments of certain sociologists, that crime is the result of individual behaviour, is the lack of, recent, evidence for their claims. As a result, theories that assert that crime is the result of a socialisation process tend to have more statistical evidence, in comparison to physiological theories in particular, to support their claims and are therefore more credible.

In addition to physiological theories, there also appears to be a link between psychological theories, and therefore individual behaviour, as an explanation of crime. Psychological theories suggest that a person’s mental state will have an impact on the likelihood of them committing a crime. This belief is strongly supported by recent research which found that one in five murders is committed by someone who is mentally ill. The labelling theory of Howard S. Becker, is a type of interactionist theory which asserts that labelling a person as deviant will encourage deviant behaviour in that person. This, in relation to mental illness and crime, suggests that if an individual is labelled as mentally ill then they will be more inclined to view themselves as mentally ill and, considering that one in twenty crimes is committed by those with a mental illness, be more likely to commit crime. There is much evidence to suggest that psychological explanations tend to provide clearer answers to the causes of crime than physiological theories and seem to be involved in a greater volume of cases. For example, the mentally ill commit 7.5 percent of harassment and threat cases, 3.6 percent of robberies and 15.7 percent of arsons (which are thought to cost insurance companies about £150,000 a day). Furthermore, of the 2684 murders in the UK between April 1999 and December 2003, 261 were psychologically ill. However, some sociologists tend to dismiss psychological explanations of crime arguing that there is little agreement amongst psychologists about what...

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