Theories of Crime

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Theories of Crime
Biological Positivism
Lombroso (1876) believed that evolution could explain behaviour. He thought that many criminals were found to have a distinctive physique, such as protruding ears, sloping foreheads, long arms, a prominent jaw and a receding chin. He described criminals as being ‘atavistic’ similar to an earlier form of evolutionary life. Sheldon (1949) also believed a criminal was determined by someone’s body type, he believed there were three body types, endomorph: short and fat, ectomorph: skinny and frail and mesomorph: heavy and muscular. He found that 60% of delinquents and 31% of non- delinquents were mesomorphic.

Free Will
The belief that humans are rational and have the ability to make decisions for themselves. People can understand the difference between right and wrong and therefore chose to either commit crime or to follow the law. Beccaria (1764) believes that an offender is therefore someone who has no self-discipline, either that or they deliberately choose to break the law.

Control Theory
Claims to ask people why they do not commit crimes rather than why they do. This theory focuses on the methods used to control crime. It is believed that there are motivations to commit a crime such as financial profit, social status and even the enjoyment of committing it. Hirschi (1969) believes that an offender is more likely to commit a crime with their attachments to society are either weak or broken down.

Labelling theory
Becker (1963) believed that people were not offenders until they were labelled as being one. Labelling theory considers the reactions of people and the impact of their responses. Once a person has been given a label such as a ‘thief,’ they tend to segregate themselves from society, and become an ‘outsider.’ They then may live up to the label that they have been given. Strain Theory

Strain Theory
Merton (1938) believes that people will commit crimes when there is a ‘strain’ between cultural...
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