Reviewing Crime And The Theories Behind It Criminology Essay

Jimmy Boyle ‘s autobiography A Sense of Freedom ( 1977 ) gives a really interesting and honest penetration into his life of offense and captivity. The autobiography, written from inside prison, is harmonizing to Boyle an effort to warn immature people that there is non anything glamourous about offense and force. It gives a full narrative of his life from a really immature age, with a elaborate penetration into his childhood, experiences of junior-grade offense, approved schools and borstal, right through to his grownup experiences of more serious offense, force and grownup prisons, including his reading of the Penal System. Reading this autobiography I aimed to stay degage from the writer and seek to make an independent analysis of his criminalism. The definition of ‘autobiography ‘ harmonizing to AskOxford ( 2010 ) is ‘an history of a individual ‘s life written by that individual ‘ ; this suggests that in analyzing the writer ‘s criminalism throughout the book one should non bury that it is written from the writer ‘s position and memory and should non be taken strictly on face value. With this in head I intend to use criminological theories to Boyle ‘s autobiography with an purpose to separate which criminological theory most efficaciously seeks to explicate his criminalism. Furthermore, in making this I expect to light the unfavorable judgments involved within these theories.

Crime can be defined as ‘an act or title, which is against the jurisprudence ‘ ( Chambers 1998:145 ) . Over the past few centuries at that place have been legion theories try to explicate why offense is committed and the replies to this inquiry are still rather doubting. I intend to see the cardinal rules of Rational Choice Theory and how convincing it is in explicating Boyle ‘s criminalism. Rational Choice Theory is portion of a modern-day Classical attack in explicating offense. In order to explicate this theory it is of import foremost to look into the Classical attack.

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Classicism is the eldest of these two theories that seeks to explicate criminalism. It emerged at a clip when the realistic attack of the societal contract theoreticians was disputing the antecedently dominant spiritualist attack to explicating offense and condemnable behavior ( Burke, 2005:24 ) . It rests on the premise of free will and suggests that condemnable activity is the consequence of rational pick and of the hedonic urges of the person ( Newburn, 2007:114 ) . It was the two cardinal Classical school theoreticians Baccaria and Bentham who in the late 18th century established the indispensable constituents of the Rational Actor theoretical account. It suggests that offense is the merchandise of evil and people commit offense through pick because they are merely ‘bad ‘ ( Newburn, 2007:114 ) .

A cardinal rule of the classicist attack is to province the jurisprudence clearly to the populace and penalty should be predictable in order to make disincentive against offense. Baccaria considered that felons owe a debt to society and proposed that penalties should be fixed purely in proportion to the earnestness of the offense. Harmonizing to Baccaria human behavior is basically based on the pleasance hurting rule, hence penalty should reflect that rule and all that are guilty of a peculiar offense should endure the same punishment ( Burke, 2005:25 ) .

Rational Choice theory derives from this same school of idea as Classicism. It emerged during the 1980s with the impression that ‘nothing plants ‘ , influenced by the Bentham and the economic public-service corporation theoretical account. Likewise to Classicism it bases its construction on simple disincentive and requital rules and besides portions the same premises that wrongdoers are basically rationally ciphering histrions ( Newburn, 2007:280 ) . It suggests that wrongdoers make a cost-benefit-calculation as whether to perpetrate the offense. If the benefit ( e.g. money ) out weighs the cost ( e.g. prosecution if caught ) so it is likely that they will take the hazard and perpetrate the offense. Becker ( 1968, cited in Newburn, 2007 ) argued that persons will perpetrate offenses if the ‘expected public-service corporation ‘ of making so is positive, and will non make so if it is negative. Cornish and Clark ( 1985, cited in Newburn, 2007 ) have had a major influence in developing Rational Choice theory. They suggest that instead than a simple pick, a sequence of picks have to be made, and that these picks are influenced by a figure of societal and psychological factors within the person. Although this modern-day position still holds some of the chief facets of Classicism sing reason, it has moved in a new way as it now arguably considers the psychological and sociological effects on the wrongdoer, an country that Classicism failed to see. Rather than proposing wrongdoers are merely ‘bad ‘ in its account of offense as Classicism does, the Rational Choice theory became the survey of why people make peculiar determinations and act in peculiar ways under certain fortunes ( Newburn, 2007:281 ) . Harmonizing to Cornish and Clark ( 1985, cited in Newburn, 2007 ) offense is treated as ‘purposive ‘ ; it is ne’er senseless. Furthermore, Cornish and Clark ( 1985, cited in Newburn, 2007 ) suggest that other than material wealth, the benefits of perpetrating such offense may besides include exhilaration, prestigiousness, merriment, sexual satisfaction, rebelliousness or laterality of others.

It is arguable that throughout reading A Sense Of Freedom ( 1977 ) Boyle is cognizant of all the benefits from offense he receives, a batch of which are mentioned above. From a immature age Boyle admits to the exhilaration experience by stealing and contending. It is this that makes it apparent that he has made rational computations of what the benefits received will be as a consequence of offense, for case larceny will derive him material wealth, reputation/status and exhilaration, much the same as contending would derive him repute and exhilaration. In this sense for Boyle the benefit of perpetrating offense outweighed the cost, which explains his on-going condemnable behavior. However, these benefits received would be an after consequence of perpetrating these offenses. What the Rational Choice theory fails to explicate is why the demand for perpetrating the offense in the first topographic point. Although Rational Choice theory does advert the psychological and sociological facets that the wrongdoer brings with them into certain state of affairss, it bases these facets on ciphering whether to perpetrate the offense or non, instead than what sociological or psychological effects would lend towards perpetrating the offense in the first topographic point i.e. strain, inequality, poorness, learned behaviour etc. Therefore it still does non seek to explicate the person ‘s societal fortunes. In this sense harmonizing to Newburn ( 2007 ) it fails to take sufficient history of the structural conditions within which single decision-making takes topographic point ( Newburn, 2007,296 ) Simply Rational Choice theory does non explicate the grounds for perpetrating offense in the first topographic point. It explains the procedure that takes topographic point when there is an chance for offense. Harmonizing to Newburn ( 2007 ) it fails to explicate or is unconcerned with the motive of the wrongdoer. What it does seek to explicate is the grounds why wrongdoers such as Boyle repeatedly committed offense, such as the benefits i.e. repute, position and stuff wealth.

The Rational Choice Theory suggests that we would all perpetrate offense if we thought we could acquire away with it, the ground we do non is because for most the cost outweighs the benefit ( Newburn, 2007:296 ) . This illuminates the inquiry as to why everyone does non perpetrate offense if everyone has the same reason? Harmonizing to Jones ( 2006 ) ‘the assorted definitions of ‘rational pick ‘ provided by the theory ‘s advocates seems to be excessively obscure and let for about any signifier of behavior except the most utmost pathological assortment ‘ . Harmonizing to Jones ( 2006:417 ) , Gibbs ( 1989 ) sums it up when he said ‘if rational behavior is defined as merely goal-orientated behavior, so virtually all human behavior is rational ‘ .

Harmonizing to Burke, ( 2005,44 ) one of the unfavorable judgments with Rational Choice theory is that it is accused of connoting a excessively high grade of reason by comparing condemnable picks excessively closely with market-place determinations. The work of Cornish and Clark suggest ‘offenders constantly act in footings of limited or delimited signifier of reason ( Burke, 2005:44 ) . In this sense wrongdoers will non be to the full cognizant of all the facets involved in doing the determination to perpetrate offense nor will they hold all the facts to do a wise determination. This is still considered to be a rational pick but to a different grade. Therefore, this suggests that wrongdoers can be categorised individually from ‘law-abiding ‘ citizens ( Burke, 2005:44 ) .

Although the Rational Choice Theory has played a big portion in the Governments purpose for situational offense bar within the past 40 old ages, with the impression that ‘nothing plants ‘ and its concentration on removing/reducing the chance for offense, it seems it has non played a big portion in understanding why offense is committed nor has it contributed towards developing criminological theory. Gibbons ( 1994, cited in Walklate, 1998:38 ) argues that ‘the Rational Choice theory neither constitutes a new or nor a general account of offense since elements of imputing the ability to do picks and determinations to felons and condemnable behavior are present in a scope of criminological positions ‘ . Akers ( 1994 cited in Jones, 2006:416 ) suggests Ration Choice theory and disincentive theoreticians have non acknowledged their debt to Social Learning theory, which he states already allows for the acceptance of rational decision-making procedures in sing whether to perpetrate offense.

As it is evident after reading Boyle ‘s autobiography that he has made a batch of picks to perpetrate offense throughout his life, it is hard to use the Rational Choice theory to particulars as it seems to be a really obscure theory, much the same a Classicism. It seems that all his determinations throughout were of a cost-benefit-calculation, nevertheless arguably, this could be said about every determination any offender makes from stealing a pen at work, hooliganism to slay and more serious offense. With this in head I am now traveling to see a psychological rationalist attack in explicating Boyles criminalism. Alternatively of looking at abnormalcies of the encephalon in an effort to explicate his criminalism, although there are a figure of inquiries that could be raised when looking at his actions in prison, which could arguably be linked to psychopathic behavior, in this instance it would be good to look into larning behavior in seeking to explicate his criminalism, with an accent on Social Learning thoery.

From a immature age Boyle explains the country he was brought up in as hapless and socially deprived ( Boyle, 1977:21 ) . He tells of his experiences as a immature male child as looking at certain countries as more upper category and the people who live in them are ‘toffs ‘ which he subsequently admits that they were non, nevertheless they had nicer apparels or places than himself therefore they were classed as ‘toffs ‘ by him and his equals. He states that his and his friend ‘s female parent used to name so ‘half boiled nobs ‘ and used to mime their speech patterns ( Boyle, 1977,9 ) . He tells of his clip traveling about from a immature age stealing with his friends from other peoples unwanted ownerships, something that was seen by Boyle as non condemnable activity merely the done thing. Watching the older work forces come out the saloon at dark clip rummy and engaging in violent behavior ( contending ) was one of the activities Boyle and his equals used to make, preferably on weekends. ( Boyle, 1977:15 ) . Although when reading the book Boyle ‘s infantile enterprise seems instead inline with the norm that male childs will be male childs and acquire up to mischievousness, it seems that this is where Boyles personality developed. The fact that he was out late watching the combat outside saloon at the age of 5-6 suggests that his violent behavior in his grownup life could hold derived from this. Therefore, the important facets of this are that Boyle was out at a really late clip for a immature male child, which suggests that there was a important deficiency of supervising by his parents. This is one of the grounds for Social Learning theory ‘s accounts as to why some delinquent behavior takes topographic point, and is one of deficiency of supervising or hapless kid rise uping can take to aggression ( something that Boyle implied he was finally an expert in ) ( Newburn, 2007:165 ) Boyle tells us from the start that his Father dies when he is a immature male child, this is important because of the deficiency of rearing in his household sing supervising but besides because of his Father ‘s repute of which Boyle states he was cognizant of, which is of a violent nature. It is apparent that these activities from childhood and throughout his adolescence could be cardinal in explicating his criminalism.

Behavioural larning theories has its beginnings in the work of Pavlov and Skinner and their experiments carried out on animate beings, with their conditioning with stimulations when confronted with different undertakings ( Burke, 2005:79 ) . This had a profound impact on the position developed when sing criminalism. Skinner argued from an operant conditioning position that a individual must actively react if they are to larn, whereas Cognitivists place the accent on mental instead than physical activity ( Burke, 2005:85 ) . Social Learning theory like the Rational Choice theory portions the same impression that behavior can be reinforced by wagess and penalty nevertheless it emphasises that behavior can learned by outlooks that are learned by watching what happens to other people, in this sense persons will do a pick as to what is learned and how ( Burke, 2005:85 ) . Tarde ( 1843-1904, cited in Burke, 2005 ) suggested that offense was merely a normal erudite behavior. He argued that felons are primary normal people who by accident of birth are brought up in an ambiance in which they learn offense as a manner of life. This leads to my statement as instead than generalizing everyone as merely rational histrions, Boyle was nurtured into offense from a immature age. In this sense this takes into consideration that whilst this theory portions the same values sing reason it looks closer into why offense is committed in the first topographic point.

Albert Bandura had a major impact on Social Learning theory, particularly with his presentation of the ‘Bobo doll ‘ experiment. The footing of the theory is that the erudite behavior is a combination of the physical Acts of the Apostless and how to execute them ( accomplishments ) and the attitudes and mental apprehension necessary to the behavior ( including societal accomplishments, ethical motives and pick ) ( Williams, 2008:289 ) . In this sense condemnable behavior can be learnt through pattern, watching others or prosecuting in the environment ( Williams, 2008:289 ) . Harmonizing to Williams the degree of societal accomplishments, which the persons have learnt, may be connected to the sum of offense they perform.

Bandura ( cited in Newburn, 2007:153 ) points out that Social Learning theory includes a consideration of motive and the three types involved, these are ; external reinforcement-from the environment, vicarious reinforcement-from detecting others and self reinforcement-as a consequence of taking pleasance or pride from one ‘s ain actions. Harmonizing to Bandura ( cited in Newburn, 2007:153 ) in this sense we are likely to be influenced by others particularly if they are of a high position, which is referred to as theoretical accounts. It is arguable that Boyle learnt his violent behavior from hearing narratives about his Father to watching contending outside the saloon, in this sense he idolised this behavior. It is stated in the book that in the book Boyle ‘s equals stole some money on a peculiar juncture. Boyle states that he did non desire any of the money when his friends were sharing it out. However, he did allow them pay for him to acquire in the film. This aloud Boyle to have the benefits of this condemnable act, which arguably conditioned him for the hereafter, as this moral determination did non last and before long Boyle was take parting in more larceny himself. This is a instance of learned behavior from his equals. This shows that non all theoretical accounts have to be of high position, but behaviors can be learned through delinquent equals and what is accepted within a group ( Newburn, 2007:165 ) . The Social Learning theory hence, can be applied to how Boyle became more involved in condemnable activity. Harmonizing to Newburn ( 2007 ) Ron Akers and his survey of offense, suggests that offense is a consequence of operant conditioning or imitation. Not merely did Boyle affect himself in larceny and violent activity at school, but besides carried on through his stripling life which lead him into Approved schools and Borstal. This is where Boyle states that he made a batch of ‘contacts ‘ . He referred to these establishments as ‘University for offense ‘ ( Boyle, 1977:73 ) . This suggest that Boyle believed himself that blending with people of a more higher condemnable position played a important portion in widening his criminalism. Harmonizing to Jones ( 2006:415 ) ‘for relentless wrongdoers, the periodic support of their values by other felons has been sufficient to outweigh the repressive effects of penalty.

It is clear that whilst covering merely a little country of Psychological Positivism with an accent on Social Learning theory, it seems to be a good account to Boyles Criminality. What this theory fails to explicate is to some extent the societal want that Boyle experienced. It does concentrate on some countries that the societal fortunes had on Boyle ‘s personality, nevertheless it emphasises on patterning his personality from influence of his equals and function theoretical accounts. This does look to be effectual in explicating why Boyle became violent and engaged in larceny, nevertheless it fails to explicate why he was influenced in this manner in the first topographic point and illuminates the inquiry as to why are people around him moving in this manner? Harmonizing to Howitt ( 2009 ) ‘suggesting that people learn their violent and condemnable actions from others is a weak statement, unless force and offense are wholly genetically transmitted so necessarily they must be learnt socially in some manner ‘ . In this sense harmonizing to Howitt ( 2009 ) ‘any account of force and offense in footings of acquisition is non peculiarly helpful unless the conditions under which it is learnt can be specified. Violence and offense are non the sole agencies by which ends are achieved. A assortment of tactics are involved in accomplishing ends – working instead than stealing to acquire a telecasting set being a simple illustration. As work is a major signifier of sculptural behaviour, how can we explicate why there is any offense at all if it is merely through societal larning ‘ ? In this sense the Social Learning theory ‘s weak ability to explicate under what fortunes condemnable behaviour will or will non be learnt means that it has limited explanatory power ( Howitt, 2009:78 ) .

Due to official statistics on offense there is a common belief that poorness has a important function to play in underlying offending ( Jones, 2006:151 ) . The work from Durkheim focused on how the organisation of society can drive people into interrupting its regulations ( Jones, 2006:157 ) . Durkheim thought that some offense is normal in society and it would be impossible to conceive of a society without offense ( Jones, 2006:157 ) . Derkheim ‘s concentration on ‘anomie ‘ and the sociological position of offense had a profound consequence on the development of criminological theory as he realised that offense is a modern-day societal concept instead than a set of cosmopolitan values or the contemplation of intrinsic ‘evils ‘ ( Jones, 2006:161 ) . This gave rise to Merton ‘s theory on strain. Derkheim saw ‘anomie ‘ as created by sudden alterations in society, whereas Merton ‘anomie ‘ applies to disadvantages of the lower categories. This is the country I am traveling to concentrate on following in explicating Boyle ‘s criminalism.


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