Examining Theory Paper

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Social control theory Pages: 5 (1230 words) Published: March 11, 2013

Examining Theory Paper
December 20, 2012
Sandra Janics


There are many theories in the field of criminology that seek to explain the reasons behind why people commit crimes. Social process theory is one such theory and asserts that criminal behavior is learned through interactions with others (Schmalleger, 2012). There are four types of social process theories including: social learning theory, social control theory, labeling theory, and dramaturgical perspective. This paper will explore two of the theories including social learning theory and social control theory. The paper will discuss social process theory and the history of its development, the theory’s importance to criminology, examples of the theory, and any positives or negatives associated with the theory.

Theory and the History of its Development

Social Learning Theory
Social Learning Theory is the process that occurs through observing the consequences of others and by determining if such behavior is worth replicating (Wallace, n.d.) Basically this theory suggests that humans learn by watching others. Social Learning Theory was developed in the 1930’s by Theorists, Edwin Sutherland, Robert Burgess, Ronald L. Akers, and Daniel Glaser. These theorists developed the learning theory by recognizing patterns of criminal behaviors and the types of values that went along with criminals, the way they lived and communicated which they called differential association (Schmalleger, 2012.) Another theorist that has helped in the development of theory is Albert Bandura. Bandura's work emphasized reciprocal determinism, which focuses on how a person’s behavior, environment, and personal qualities all reciprocally influence each other. ("Learning-Theories.com", 2012). Bandura developed a model that involved the following steps. 1. Attention: In order for an individual to learn, they must be able to pay attention to the behavior being observed 2. Retention: In order for a person to use what they have seen they must have the ability to remember what they have seen. 3. Reproduction: in order for a person to re-produce the behavior they observer, they mush have the ability to organize their responses. This can be achieved with practice. 4. Motivation: the person must have a drive or a need to recreate the behavior they have observed.

 Social Control Theory

Social control theory is a theory that emphasizes the inhibiting effect of social and psychological integration with others whose potential negative response, surveillance, and expectations regulate or constrain criminal impulses (Schmalleger, 2012.) In layman’s terms this theory is about looking at the world around us and identifying the triggers that causes some people to commit crimes but not others. Albert J. Reiss and Travis Hirschi first developed social control theory in the 1950’s (Newman, n.d.) Reiss and Hirschi believed that understanding social learning would lead to a better understanding of social control. To do this Hirschi broke the theory down into four sub groups. 1. Direct social control: The attempt to punish or get rid of the negative behaviors that are different form society’s norms. 2. Indirect social control: Identification by family or the government of bad influences and improper behavior. 3. Internal social control: The process of internalizing the norms of society and accepting them. A person accepts these norms and adapts their life to fit them. (Newman, n.d.)

Importance to Criminology

Both social process theory and social control theory are important to criminology because it helps create an understanding of the many connections between behavior, social interaction and crime. Social learning theory is important to criminology because this theory focuses on the behavior and how it is learned, it focuses on the connection with how both crime and behavior are processed and the impact that modeling...
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