Unit 3 Theories of Causation Theories of Causation Historical progression of theories: Demonology Classical theory (rational choice, routine activities, deterrence theories) Biological theories (atavists, somotypes, twin studies, etc.) Psychological theories (psychoanalytic, psychopathology, behaviorism) Sociological theories (anomie, strain, social disorganization, illegitimate opportunity, focal concerns, drift, neutralization, labeling, differential association, theory of differential expectations) Sociological theories of Conflict (radical, critical, Marxist, feminist) Sociological theories of Control (bonding, general theory of crime) Integrated theories (combining elements from biological, psychological, and sociological theories) Theories of Causation Theories in a nutshell: Demonology – the devil made me do it – the cure was trephining or the drilling of holes in the skull to allow the demon to escape Classical theory or free will approach Origin: late 1700s, based on the writings of Cesar Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham Main ideas: People choose to commit crimes after weighing the benefits and costs. Crime can be deterred by certain, severe, and swift punishment. Basic assumptions: crime is an exercise of free will, humans are rational beings pain and pleasure determine behavior crime weakens bonds between members of a society punishment is a necessary deterrent for crime punishment needs to be swift and certain in order to deter punishment needs to fit the crime, it should be just Theories of Causation Rational choice theory stems from the free will approach. Main idea is that delinquents weigh the costs and rewards and if they perceive a favorable outcome then they will commit the crime. Routine activities theory also follows from classical theory. Your lifestyle determines whether or not you will commit crime or not. If you drink, hang with a rough crowd, and commit risky behaviors then your chance of being delinquent or a victim increase. Grandma shuts up the house at 5 o’clock and is in bed by 8:00 – routine activities theory would suggest her lifestyle would make her unlikely to be a criminal or victim. Statistics tell us this is true. Deterrence theory is also based on the free will principles. If punishment is swift, certain, and severe, it is unlikely we will take a risk on a particular crime. We have two types of deterrence, specific and general. Specific deterrence means that individual will not commit that crime again. General deterrence means society looks at the chances of punishment and decides as a whole not to commit that particular crime. Theories of Causation The Positivistic School of Criminology was the introduction of the scientific method and empirical research to the study of crime. Biological theories were the first to attempt studying crime in this manner. Basic assumptions: human behavior is determined by a large degree on biology the tendency to be criminal can be passed on thru blood lines biological atavism can exist in humans Cesare Lombroso – the father of modern criminology. Lombroso conducted a very faulty study on prisoners in Italy. He came to the conclusion that criminals were “atavists” or “born criminals.” According to Lombroso, some people were biological throwbacks – like the early caveman – and they had no other choice but to be criminals in a modernized society. Sheldon studied prisoners and decided to examine their body shapes. He identified three somotypes: the endomorph (fat), the ectomorph (thin), and the mesomorph (athletic). Is it any wonder he concluded mesomorphs were found more often in prison? Men are at their physical best in their late teens to early twenties, and that is the age range of typical criminals. Theories of Causation Other biological theories hold more promise than those early studies mentioned. Twin studies – there is an increased chance that if one identical twin is criminal then the other is as well Adopted studies – children whose biological parents were criminals, but were adopted by law abiding citizens are more likely to be criminal; likewise the children of law abiding citizens whose children are adopted by criminals are unlikely to be criminals (role of environment has not yet been explained adequately) Biosocial criminology – the link between the physical body and criminal behavior is still being studied through the examination of chemicals in the brain Theories of Causation Psychological theory Basic assumptions: the individual is the unit of analysis personality is key motivational feature delinquency results from abnormalities, inappropriately conditioned personality dysfunctions develops in early childhood This group of theories is based primarily on the works of Freud, the role of IQ, and the ability to learn. Freud identified the id (unsocialized self), ego (problem solver), and superego (mediator between the others). Delinquency is thus the result of an uncontrollable id, an underdeveloped superego, or a faulty ego. Behaviorism is the branch of psychology concerned with the study of observable behavior. Stimuli and response. It is hard to know what is going on in a person’s mind, but we can see actions. Behavior is learned by reacting or responding a certain way to a certain stimulus. Behavior can be reinforced by rewarding the responses or extinguished by punishing the response. Rewarded behavior is repeated behavior. Delinquency is the result of being rewarded for criminal behavior (money, drugs, sex, etc.) Theories of Causation Sociological theories – structural theories Anomie is a concept of Durkheim’s that describes the breakdown of social norms or the disassociation of the individual from a general sense of morality. Robert Merton – Strain theory Delinquency is the result of certain structural strains that pressure the individual to become deviant. We all carry basically the same beliefs -we want material success and expect to achieve this success through legitimate means. But some of us do not have the same opportunities to achieve wealth. Anomie results when the means of achieving goals becomes blocked. There are two social structures in society – a value structure (goals) and a normative structure (means) Goals Means Conformity + + us Innovation + - drug dealer, car thief -- any illegitimate means of making money Retreatism - - drug addict, alcoholic Ritualism - + sleepwalking thru life Rebellion -+ -+ hippies Theories of Causation General strain theory – Robert Agnew (micro version) Criminality results from negative affective states – anger and frustration develop if goal is blocked strain caused by failure to achieve positively valued goals strain caused by the disjunction of expectations and achievements in comparison to others strain as the removal of positively valued stimuli from the individual strain as the presentation of negative stimuli Strain occurs and produces a negative affective state (depression, anger, frustration, fear, disappointment). Antisocial behavior results from the negative state produced. Ecological/Social disorganization theory – The consequences of urban decay. These areas are characterized by a general lack of social stability and cohesion. It does not matter what group lives in these areas – the delinquency rates will remain high for each group. Walter Miller – focal points Youth in disorganized areas develop their own standards of behavior and values in order to better adapt to the harsh conditions under which they live. Their values include: toughness, excitement, smartness, fate, and autonomy. Theories of Causation Cloward and Ohlin – Illegitimate opportunity theory Deviance is not open to everyone, people in lower class areas get exposed to more and thus have more opportunity. Cohen – middle class measuring rod Delinquency is tied closely to failure in school. We measure success in school with a “middle class measuring rod” – norms and values thought to be associated with the middle class (deferred gratification, nonviolent behavior, drive and ambition, etc.). Poor youth or those living in a disorganized are will rebel against what they cannot have. We call this -reaction formation – openly rejecting want one wants or aspires to, but cannot obtain or achieve (protects self-esteem). Labeling theory This theory is not interested in the criminal/deviant act you committed, but rather what happens after being caught. Getting caught increases the chance of being “labeled” by someone with authority (juvenile court system). Labeling increases the chances that being delinquent becomes a master status. Because delinquent becomes a master status, the juvenile commits more crimes than if he/she had never been labeled. Theories of Causation Conflict/Radical/Critical/Marxist theories Conflict occurs naturally in all societies. Conflict is the result of competition for resources. These theories focus on the conflict that results from differences in race, ethnicity, social class, and gender. These theories view laws as being enforced for and by the powerful against the powerless. Feminist theory This theory is another branch of the conflict theory tree. The focus here is on women’s experiences in areas of victimization, gender differences in crime, and differential treatment by the juvenile justice network. Control theories Hirshi’s control bonding theory tells us why juveniles do NOT commit crime. In other words, this theory reveals why we obey laws. Basically if a youth is attached to non-deviant parents, involved in non-deviant activities (sports, work, church, etc.), committed to non-deviant goals (education, for example), and has non-deviant beliefs then it is unlikely the youth will become deviant. General theory of crime or low self-control theory Gottfredson and Hirshi’s micro theory explains that juveniles commit crimes because they lack discipline. Theories of Causation Integrated theories – combination of theories from multiple disciplines Thorneberry – Interactional theory Crime linked to deterioration of social bonds during adolescence: weakened attachments, weakened commitment, and weakened beliefs. Youth turns to others who share those beliefs. Interactions with these deviant peers increase shaping actions.