Tackling Crime: How Cultural Changes Shape Legal Landscape - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1825 Words
Date:  2022-12-28


Crime is a highly complex phenomenon that varies across various cultures and changes with time. In this case, an activity can be legal in one country, i.e., alcohol consumption in the UK and be illegal in another county, i.e., alcohol consumption in the Muslim countries (Akers & Sellers, 2019). Therefore, with changes in cultures over time, the behaviors and activities that were not criminalized may become criminalized (and even decriminalized in the future, such as alcohol consumption in the USA).

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Crime can, therefore, be described by a combination of theories to provide a more succinct definition of the vice. This is due to the fact that the theories address various aspects that may constitute a crime. These may include the biological theories, sociological theories, strain theory, subcultural theory and feminist perspective theory among others ("The University of Glasgow," 2019). Theories try to address the various factors that cause and constitute crime which may vary per state or culture. Crime can be viewed as a category created by the law where an activity or event can be considered a crime if it is declared by the relevant and applicable law to be a crime.

A crime can, therefore, be defined as a harmful act done to an individual or a community, society of the state at large (in the case of public wrong) ("The University of Glasgow," 2019). The act is, however, forbidden and punishable by law. A criminal offense is defined by the criminal laws that are stipulated by each state. This is a micro level explanation that ensures that looks at crime on an individual basis or a smaller unit level but with regulations set by the state or government.

There are various criminological theories that explain why people commit a crime. These theories range from biological to social theories, all of which analyzing the psychology behind a criminal mind. Some of these theories include the rational choice theory, the social disorganization theory, strain theory, biological theory and left realism/relative deprivation theory ("The University of Glasgow," 2019).

In line with the rational choice theory, people generally act according to their self-interest and make decisions that cause them to commit criminal activities after analysis of the potential risks and rewards. In this case, individuals are viewed as rational actors who are capable of making their own choices and implementing actions that may include not only committing criminal activities but also making decisions on when and where to commit the crime ("The University of Glasgow," 2019).

People commit crime due to the social disorganizations that exist in society. According to the social disorganization theory, a person's social and physical environments have a major impact on the behavioral choices that an individual makes, i.e., a neighborhood with fraying social structures has a higher likelihood of criminal acts. Moreover, such a neighborhood would be associated with poor schools, high rates of unemployment, vacant and vandalized buildings and a mixture of improper commercial and residential property (Akers & Sellers, 2019).

Most people have similar aspirations and targets in life. However, inequalities in opportunities and abilities among them result in variations in the achievement of the goals. Strain theory argues that failure of some people to achieve their societal expectations via legal and approved means that involve hard work and delayed gratification causes them to resort to criminal activities in an attempt to achieve their desired success. Crime, therefore, arises when there exists a gap between the society's cultural goals, i.e., status and material wealth and the structural means to achieve them, i.e., through employment and education. This strain between the goals and the means to achieve them results in resentment and frustration, causing some individuals to prefer illegitimate means to secure the success. Therefore, strain theory argues that the social structures and cultural values in the society exert pressure on an individual causing them to commit a crime (Akers & Sellers, 2019).

Some people develop the motivation to engage in criminal activities and gain the skills required in criminal activities through the people they associate with most of the time. This is an aspect of peer influence and pressure that is addressed by the social learning theory. In this case, one tends to behave in a manner equal to or the same as most of the people they hang around with ("The University of Glasgow," 2019). A good person would, therefore, engage in criminal activities because he/she has learned it from his friends or peers.

Some criminal activities are associated with biology, genetics, and evolution (Okada, 2015). These may include mental illness, poor diet, bad brain and evolutionary rewards among others for aggressive criminal conduct that proposes an explanation for crime. According to the biological theories of criminology, the brain of some individuals could be mal-developed or not fully developed resulting in the individuals engaging in criminal activities.

However, this theory has continued to develop and measures other aspects of the body that include biochemical conditions, i.e., poor diet and hormonal imbalances, neurophysiological conditions, i.e., learning disabilities due to brain damage and genetic inheritance or abnormality (Okada, 2015). This theory suggests that the causes of crime within an individual are a result of some identifiable differences between the non-offenders and the offenders. In this case, the criminal is in one way or another different or abnormal from the other individuals.

Another major cause of criminal activities is the perception of some group of people who view themselves as being treated in an unfair manner compared to the rest of the population. This concept is well-explained by the left realism/relative deprivation theory which suggests that crime happens when individuals or groups view themselves as being handled in a disadvantaged manner compared to other groups or individuals who are of similar status or condition among other variables. In this case, the disadvantage is a subjective assessment that is determined by an individual.

To explain this theory, two other key theories can be incorporated. These include marginalization and sub-cultures ("The University of Glasgow," 2019).

With reference to the concept of marginalization, the disadvantaged individuals or groups experience marginalization at various levels in the society, i.e., political, social and economic. This causes them to be at the periphery of society, lacking political power or representation and low economic levels which causes them to take on crime and violence as a way or raising their concerns or taking political actions.

In the context of sub-cultures, the marginalized individuals come into contact with others who share the same experience. They later form their own sub-culture that features crime and violence.

Whether the motivations/reasons for committing crime vary by type of crime. Types of crime that this explanation cannot explain.

Variation of Motivating Factors for Criminal Activities

From the above discussion, it is evident that the reasons for or motivating factors for committing a crime varies from one type of crime to another. In this case, the desire for material gains in the form of money and expensive belongings results in property crimes that include but not limited to burglaries, robberies, auto thefts, and white-collar jobs. Other reasons underlying such crimes include the physical and social environments, inequality, poverty and unemployment that results in failure to achieve the same opportunities and abilities, substance abuse and peer influence among others (Weatherburn, 2019). On the other hand, the desire for control, power or revenge results in violent crimes that may include murders, rapes, and assaults. These criminal activities can also result from peer influence, public tolerance of crime, weak informal social controls, and even substance abuse.

However, some reasons result in more than one criminal activity, depending on their interrelation, i.e., rape and murders may be caused by the desire for control, revenge and power leads or by substance abuse and weak informal social controls. There are other crimes that would be quite cumbersome to decide on the reasons behind their cause. Such crimes include property crimes and assassinations which are usually planned in advance (Weatherburn, 2019).

In such cases, the criminal is aware of the crime in advance, weighs the risks of the crime by considering factors such as the number of policemen in sight, where the crime will take place, an analysis of the forensic tools and any laws in place that would be used to incriminate him/her. Such crimes go with the victims suffering the pain or loss but the cause of the criminal activity remains undetected and unknown as well as the culprits (Weatherburn, 2019).

How We Can Reduce Crime in Society

There are various ways in which crime can be controlled or reduced in society in line with the criminological theories. Some of the ways include the following:

The use of punishment for the perpetrators of criminal acts. This action goes in line with the deterrence theory which states that application of a certain, severe and swift punishment would cause people to refrain engaging in criminal activities (Akers & Sellers, 2019). The theory is at the center of the criminal justice system and provides a basis for most of the strict punishments and prison sentences. Application of punishment would help to instill fear among the criminals and cause them to think wisely before engaging in criminal activities.

Psychological counseling would also help to reduce criminal activities. The process of psychological counseling would help to address any underlying mental issue or disorder. It works on the assumption that treating an individual who has committed a criminal act just like someone who is sick or in need of treatment would not mean that the problem has been fully addressed.

Psychological counseling ensures that the culprit does not only go through physical punishment but also provides the most appropriate way to address the root mental cause adequately (Akers & Sellers, 2019. However, this method is mostly applied in criminal acts that highlight an underlying mental issue. It involves the use of a tool such as a psychopathy checklist (PCL-R) to measure psychopathic personality.

Application of stronger social bonding and control theories (Akers & Sellers, 2019. In line with the social control theory, social controls refer to elements that keep individuals from committing deviant or criminal acts. They include the family, school, and church among others. It includes both internal and external controls.

Internal controls explain why an individual will not commit a criminal act by the person internally controlling and monitoring his or her own behavior. It may include feelings of guilt and not wanting to disappoint others. External controls incorporate agents outside an individual's control and are responsible for preventing that individual from committing a criminal act (Akers & Sellers, 2019. These agents may include teachers, parents or law enforcement personnel.

Stronger social bonds, according to the social bonding theory would also help to reduce criminal activities. Individuals will commit less criminal activities when their bonds (ties) to society are strong. These bonds include commitment, attachment, belief, and involvement (Akers & Sellers, 2019. The stronger the bonds, the lower the rates of delinquent acts.

Increasing social capital. This involves...

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Tackling Crime: How Cultural Changes Shape Legal Landscape - Essay Sample. (2022, Dec 28). Retrieved from https://midtermguru.com/essays/tackling-crime-how-cultural-changes-shape-legal-landscape-essay-sample

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