Rational Choice Theory as a Deterant to Crime

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Written Assignment 1 (Due October 1st )

Rational choice theories are among the fastest growing theories in social science today. Many sociologists and political scientists defend the claim that rational choice theory can provide the basis for a unified and comprehensive theory of social behavior. What distinguishes rational choice theory from other forms of theory is that it denies the existence of any kinds of action other than the purely rational and calculative. All social action can be seen as rationally motivated, as instrumental action, however much of it may appear to be irrational or non-rational. I believe that the Rational Choice Theory would be most beneficial in the reduction or control of crime.

According to the Rational Choice Theory, law-violating behavior should be viewed as an event that occurs when an offender decides to risk violating the law after considering his or her own personal situation (need for money, personal values, learning experiences) and situational factors (how well a target is protected, how affluent the neighborhood is, how efficient the local police happen to be). Before choosing to commit a crime, the reasoning criminal evaluates the risk of apprehension, the seriousness of the expected punishment, the value of the criminal enterprise, and his or her immediate need for criminal gain. The Rational Choice Theory shifts attention to the act of engaging in criminal or deviant activity. The issue becomes, what can be done to make the act of crime or deviance less attractive to an individual, and how can crime or deviant behavior be prevented? The theory claims that crime prevention or at least crime reduction may be achieved through policies that convince criminals to disengage from criminal activities, delay their actions, or avoid a particular target. Strategies that are relevant to this perspective include the following: target hardening (deadbolts, self-defense skills, neighborhood watch programs, etc.), and legal...
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