Explanations for Criminal Behaviour

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Compare two explanations for criminal behaviour.

Crime is simply the behaviour that breaks the law. However, as Standen points out, “the understanding of what actually constitutes crime varies according to historical, cultural and power dimensions which may rule different behaviours as criminal at different times”, (n.d, p. 1). The most obvious example of this is when the law changes. For example from viewing the list of criminal offences by the Legal Services Commission, aiding suicide became a crime in 1961, yet causing death by dangerous driving did not become a crime until 1988. Criminal behaviour can then be explained as the violation of the criminal code. Usually to be convicted of a crime, an individual needs to have acted deliberately and without justification of their actions. Understanding why crime occurs is a big problem, yet there are certain explanations that can explain criminal behaviour. Modern theories that attempt to explain criminal behaviour emphasise the nature versus nurture debate; genes set the limits on behaviour while the environment forms developments in the limits (Standen n.d: p. 2). Some of these theories put an emphasis on physical features. Sheldon developed somatypes, suggesting that broad and muscular mesomorphs were more likely to be criminals. His findings support the fact that criminals are more likely to be muscular, yet to date it is still unclear what the link is between mesomorphy and crime (Standen n.d: p. 3). Out of the numerous theories that try to explain criminal behaviour, there are two which can explain it more effectively; sociological and psychological. Sociological criminology examines group variables to crime. Bartol and Bartol suggest these variables include age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, personal relationships and ethnic-cultural affiliation (Bartol and Bartol, 2005: p. 5). These variables have important relationships with categories and patterns of crime. For example sociological criminology has...
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