Socio Cultural Theories Of Crime Criminology Essay

The sociological or socio-cultural theoretical account provides a macro-level analysis of condemnable force. This theoretical account examines condemnable force in footings of socially structured inequality, and societal and cultural attitudes and norms sing anti-social behavior and inter-personal dealingss. Besides the two well-known theories, viz. the Structural-Functional Theory and the Theory of Sub-culture of Violence, the Learning Theory, the Exchange Theory, the Anomie Theory, and the Resource Theory besides come under socio-cultural analysis.[ 1 ]

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Structural Theory

This theory asserts that societal groups differ in regard to their typical degrees of emphasis, want and defeat and in the beginnings at their disposal to cover with these emphasiss. It explains that those persons would be more violent who combine high emphasis with low resources. This theory therefore explains an person ‘s action in footings of the ways it is shaped or determined by societal forces of one sort or another. Among the possible beginnings of emphasis are ‘economic conditions, bad lodging, comparative poorness, deficiency of occupation chances and unfavorable and frustrating work status ‘ . Work forces and adult females are socialized into peculiar functions to which are attached a set of socially determined outlooks. If structural cabal prevents these outlooks from being realized, defeat consequences and force may result. Furthermore, in a assortment of ways force is socially legitimated.


One effect of accepting this place is that the action of persons has nil to make with their personalities and values, and that force can non be described in footings of struggle, suppression, sublimation, guilt, and so on. The function of reason besides has to be rejected in societal action. The structuralistic position, therefore, leaves some inquiries unanswered because of which it is criticized.

It should besides be observed, nevertheless, that while emphasis ensuing from poorness, inequality and assorted signifiers of want may be conducive factors in domestic force, merely a little proportion of those who experience such conditions behave violently and many of those who do act violently are neither hapless nor deprived.

The designation of structural factors gives a more political spirit to accounts of domestic force. For illustration, a survey by Straus revealed: that there was a lower incidence of domestic force when the inequalities between work forces and adult females were less marked, and that weaker societal bonds gave rise to increased domestic force.[ 2 ]

System Tension and Feedback System Theory

This theory was developed by Straus ( A General Systems Theory of force between Family Members, 1973 ) to explicate intra-family force. Straus histories for force in the place by sing household as a purposive goal-seeking, adaptative societal system. Violence is seen as a system merchandise or end product instead than an single pathology. Straus specified positive feedback in the system which can make an upward spiral of force, and negative feedback which can keep, stifle, or cut down the degree of force.

Harmonizing to this theory, force is precipitated by factors such as emphasis and inter-individual struggle and is followed by effects which maintain or escalate force in household and in society.


This theory has been criticized on the footing that there has been small research specifically concerned with the acquisition of matrimonial force. It besides over-emphasizes the societal system and wholly ignores the function of single ‘s personality.[ 3 ]

Resource theory

Resource theory was suggested by William Goode ( 1971 ) . Womans who are most dependent on the partner for economic well being ( e.g. homemakers/housewives, adult females with disabilities, the unemployed ) , and are the primary health professional to their kids, fear the increased fiscal load if they leave their matrimony. Dependence means that they have fewer options and few resources to assist them get by with or alter their partner ‘s behaviour.

Couples that portion power every bit see lower incidence of struggle, and when struggle does originate, are less likely to fall back to force. If one partner desires control and power in the relationship, the partner may fall back to mistreat.[ 4 ]


This theory does non explicate all signifiers of force against adult females. Assorted statements can be given against this theory when applied to married woman banging, dowry deceases, slayings, colzas, and so on.

Patriarchy Theory

This theory developed by R.E. Dobash and R. Dobash ( Violence Against Wives, 1979 ) maintains that throughout history, force has been consistently directed towards adult females. Economic and societal procedures operate straight and indirectly to back up a patriarchal societal order and household construction. Dobash ‘s cardinal theoretical statement is that patriarchy leads to the subordination of adult females and contributes to a historical form of systematic force directed against females.


Dobash ‘s theory, while possibly the most macro-level attack to violence against adult females, has a major drawback of being a theory that is basically a individual factor ( patriarchate ) account of force ( towards adult females ) .

Conflict and Control Theories

Scholars like Foucault ( 1975 ) , Thompson ( 1977 ) , and Rothman ( 1980 ) have presented a domination theoretical account of aberrance. They have talked of regulations imposed on the powerless by the powerful. Extremist and conflict sociologists like Quinney ( 1977 ) have argued that the intent of commanding aberrance is to protect the involvements of the dominant categories and to forestall entree to their resources by foreigners. In other words, the control setup is created to forestall the powerless from prosecuting their involvements, peculiarly if that chase involves deriving entree to resources monopolized by the powerful. Enforcing varied limitations on adult females and obliging them to stay dependent on work forces economically, socially and emotionally to do them recognize that they are ‘weak ‘ and powerless in all respects, stands as an illustration of this statement. To the extent that the agents of control belong to the dominant group, an overall system of devaluation of the ‘powerless group ‘ ( adult females ) can easy be implemented. Schurz ( 1983 ) contends that male control of aberrance labelling consequences in their continued laterality in most domains of life.

The restraints on adult females ‘s rights can be interpreted as map of the successful definition of adult females as different from and inferior to work forces. “ Man negotiations of adult female non in herself but every bit comparative to him. She is non regarded as an independent being. She is differentiated with mention to adult male and non him with mention to her. She is the minor expense, the unessential as opposed to the indispensable. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute ; she is the other. ”

Sexual activity function norms clearly differentiate work forces from adult females. When these norms become internalized, they are accepted as facts and seldom questioned. Millet ( 1970 ) has said: “ Because of our societal fortunes, male and female are truly two civilizations and their life experiences are utterly different. Women live in such a different economic, cultural and societal universe from work forces that their reactions can non be understood from a maestro theoretical account developed in male society.


What is in inquiry is non the being of gender differences but the extent to which such differences justify restrictive function assignments to each gender. There is small disagreement sing the cultural building of gender, but there are conflicting positions on the function biological factors play in such development.

Therefore adult females are:

declared as different,

defined as inferior, and

adult females stereotypes are justified, and

they are consistently deprived of rights, and

all efforts at alteration are restricted.

Inter-actionist Deviance Theory

This theory, exemplified by theoreticians such as Erikson ( 1964 ) , Becker ( 1963 ) Schurz ( 1971 ) , and Lemert ( 1978 ) has three features:

it cites sex functions as causal factors of why engage in offense and deviant behavior,

it maintains that social outlooks about appropriate sex function behavior influence the diagnosing and labelling of certain actions as pervert or condemnable, and

it holds that gender affects the response to such ( aberrant ) behavior by society ( Wisdom, 1984 ) , Since adult females tend to be less powerful and of lower societal position than work forces, they are easy labelled as pervert in instances of domestic force.

This theory explains household force in footings of sex function or gender norms, i.e. , differential outlooks for values, attitudes and behaviors as a map of one ‘s gender. These norms serve as of import criterions against which adult females and work forces are evaluated through application of assorted countenances ( Schur, 1984 ) .

Harmonizing to the prevailing sex function norms, a hubby expects a ‘good married woman ‘ to act in a certain mode. She has to run the family swimmingly, guarantee kids ‘s well-bred behavior, avoid assertiveness and remain submissive to seniors in household. Any show of independency on her portion would go against sex function outlooks for female behavior. Harmonizing to aberrance theory, norm misdemeanors tend to trip forces aimed at doing the lawbreaker conform to expected criterions of behavior. Therefore, when adult females do non act like the male ‘s ideal of married woman, hubbies use force against them to do them conform to norms.[ 5 ]

Social Learning Theory

Social larning theory while still concentrating on single culprits, introduces a societal component by trying to explicate work forces ‘s force towards adult females as erudite behavior. This phenomenon is earnestly referred to as ‘intergenerational transmittal of force ‘ . What it purports to show is that those who witness force between their parent, or who themselves experience abuse as kids are likely to fall back to force in maturity.[ 6 ]

This theory asserts that human aggression and force are learned behavior, particularly through direct experience and by detecting the behavior of others. Harmonizing to this theory ( Albert Bandura, Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis, 1973 ) the single learns force through imitation. Persons pick up the behavior forms of those they are taught to esteem and larn from. Whether observed in the flesh or via ocular media, the behavior of aggressive theoretical accounts is readily imitated by persons. Aggressive behavior forms learned through modeling and imitation remain portion of our repertory of societal responses over clip. Wagess and penalties besides play a important function in the acquisition and look of behavior forms. One might believe that physical aggression directed against one ‘s chaps could barely hold any wagess, existent or awaited. But it is non so. Violence offers abundant wagess and one learns it really early in life. This theory explains both the fluctuations of individuals and state of affairss in their inclination to react sharply by mention to prior experience, support forms, and cognitive procedures. Steele and Pollock ( 1974 ) and Bennie and Sclare ( 1969 ) have maintained that opprobrious male grownups are likely to hold been raised in opprobrious places. In fact, this ‘family determinism ‘ attack maintains that all victims of childhood force will turn up to be violent grownups.[ 7 ]


Such and Flit trade reject the impression that force is transmitted from one coevals to the following ; they argue that the surveies which claim to demo this are methodologically flawed and establish their decisions on unequal grounds and unsound reading. Widom points to methodological failings in the research, including in retrospective nature and the deficiency of an equal control group.

Dr. Ram Ahuja applied this theory in analyzing a wife-batterer ‘s history of maltreatment as a kid and found that about half of the batterers ( 55 % ) had faced conditions of manifest physical ferociousness or terrible emotional rejection in their childhood. The information therefore supported the societal acquisition theory. Yet, force which is the consequence of victim ‘s aggravation or victim ‘s complicity, etc. , can non be explained on the footing of this simple theory.

Cognitive Behaviour Theory

The cognitive behavior theory postulates that work forces batter because:

They are copying illustrations of maltreatment they have witnessed during childhood or in the media,

maltreatment is rewarded,

it enables the batterer to acquire what he wants, and

maltreatment is reinforced through victim conformity and entry.

This theory is same as societal larning theory.

Advantage and Criticism of the Cognitive Behaviour theoretical accounts

One advantage of the cognitive behavioral theoretical account is that its analysis of banging and its intercession scheme are compatible with a condemnable justness response to domestic force. The attack holds the batterer to the full responsible for his force and to the full responsible for larning and following nonviolent options. Without seeking to work out larger issues of societal inequality on the one manus, or diging into deep-rooted psychological issues on the other, the cognitive behavioral attack merely focuses on the violent acts themselves and efforts to alter them.

The feminist position criticises the cognitive behavioral attack for neglecting to explicate why many work forces with idea forms or accomplishments shortages that allegedly explain their domestic force are non violent in other relationships, how civilization or sub-cultures influence forms of force, and why some work forces continue to mistreat adult females even when the behavior is non rewarded.[ 8 ]

Exchange Theory

Rechard J. Gelles feels that the Exchange Theory is the best theory of force because it integrates the elements of the diverse theories of human force. Harmonizing to the Exchange Theory, interaction is guided by the chase of wagess and the turning away of penalty and costs. In add-on, an person who supplies wages services to another obliges him to carry through an duty and therefore the 2nd single must supply benefits to the first. The exchange does non refer to concrete or touchable things ; instead, it involves intangibles such as regard, liking, aid and blessing. If mutual exchange of wagess occurs, the interaction will go on, but if reciprocality is non received, the interaction will be broken off. Therefore, histrions expect wagess to be relative to the investings ( distributive justness ) . The costs and wagess are judged in the visible radiation of options.[ 9 ]

This theory explains the growing of bitterness, choler, ill will and force when the rule of distributive justness is violated. In using the rules of the Exchange Theory to explicate force in a household ( in our instance married woman whipping, dowry decease and colza by a household member ) , we expect that people will utilize force in a household if the costs of being violent do non out-weigh the wagess. Goode suggests that force is used more by those in the poorer classes partially because they have less alternate resources and partially because their socialisation experiences teach them to depend more on force. However, all research workers do non hold that the hapless categories do use more force, though statistics show more force in hapless categories are at that place because of the fact that greater proportion of the population belongs to take down categories or it may be that in-between categories have more resources or have greater motive to conceal their offenses.


Intra-family dealingss are more complex than those studied by Exchange Theorists. A married woman can non break-off interaction with her hubby and parents can non break-off interaction with their kids, even if there is no reciprocality. Goode ( 1971 ) nevertheless, believes that force is used as a last resort to work out jobs in the household. But Nye ( 1979 ) does non accept Goode ‘s point of view. In using this theory to intra-family force, we find some costs for being violent. First, there could be the opportunity of the victim hitting back ; second, a violent assault could take to an apprehension and/or imprisonment ; and eventually, utilizing force could take to loss of position. Therefore, since the cost greater than the wages, how does the wages, how does the Exchange Theory explicate force against adult females?


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