Criminological theories compose the system possessing all signs, necessary for its existence. It, undoubtedly, composes a complete set of elements, whose role is played by different theories. These theories compose the theoretical basis for the development and application of means and methods of investigation and crimes prevention. The given research paper will critique four articles on various criminological theories, such as social conflict, social disorganization, self-control and crime deterrence theories.
The article “Social Conflict Theory and White-collar Criminals: Why Does the Ruling Class Punish their Own?”, written by Elena Bystrova and Peter Gottschalk, discusses the conflict between cultural values of various communities or social layers as a criminogenic factor. The article’s authors refer to the ideas of Karl Marx and Frederic Engels, who connect the commitment of crimes and criminal behaviors with the contradictions occurring in the capitalist society and social inequality. Aiming at the achievement of equality, the members of certain population groups address to the commission of crimes with the purpose to obtain the financial benefit. The article touches upon the deviant behavior of white-color criminals. The research was developed in such a way to predict crimes of white-collar employees.
Authors of the article represent the research hypothesis, stating that the ruling class punishes itself and what are the reasons for it. The following definition of white-collar crimes is given in the paper: “White-collar crime refers to offenses committed in an organization by those who indulge in dishonest activities, either by themselves or using agents, for financial gain” (Bystrova & Gottschalk, 2015, p. 6). The article’s findings state that the number of white-collar and higher-class criminals, sentenced to imprisonment, are much less than those among the lower social levels. Authors of the article found out that the high-rank criminals should punish themselves for the reduction of social conflict between the rich and poor layers of society and the intensification of the government control in the business sphere. Thus, there are different views on the nature of social conflict theory. The theory is applied in the investigation of crimes of high-rank officials, committing crimes. However, the policy implications are uneven, as there are different views on the theory.
The article “Social Disorganization and Crime: Searching for the Determinants of Crime at the Community Level”, written by Bráulio Figueiredo Alves da Silva, discusses the social disorganization theory in criminology and the way it explains the crime causes and rates in the urban conditions on the example of Brazil. The author of the research states that the social disorganization theory offers a crime explanation at the social level, and puts the psychology of a criminal into dependence on the processes of social functioning, in general (Alves da Silva, 2014, p. 218). According to the theory, an individual is influenced by “the social facts”, which include the views, external actions and feelings. Continuing the development of the theory and its impact on crime rates, the author states that
Reduction in the mechanisms of social control and, consequently, increase in social disorganization result in high crime rates. Social disorganization, in this case, emphasizes the inability of “a community structure to realize common values of its residents and to keep the effective social control (Alves da Silva, 2014, p. 220).
The findings of the conducted research state that the dependent and independent variables affect the crime rates and differ in various social groups. Moreover, the urbanization is in a positive correlation with crimes, as well as prevents the formation of the friendly relationships with the local institutions (Alves da Silva, 2014, p. 225). Having analyzed a number of researches and surveys, Bráulio Figueiredo Alves da Silva comes to the conclusion that the social disorganization theory shows that the differences in the crime rates are affected by the level of social development of the community. Thus, the social disorganization theory is supported empirically. The policy implications for the theory state that the crimes are committed in society, as a result of the connection of the separate people or groups of people with the models of criminal behavior. The bigger and the more frequent these connections are, the bigger is the possibility that a person will become a criminal.
In their article “The Gottfredson-Hirschi Critiques Revisited: Reconciling Self-Control Theory, Criminal Careers, and Career Criminals” Matt DeLisi and Michael Vaughn state that the self-control theory is based on one of the most important consequences of the socialization process, which is seen in the life of a child very early. Self-control is understood by the authors as the difference in the measure of susceptibility of people to the temptations, the barrier between an actor and the possible instant benefit of a crime (DeLisi & Vaughn, 2008, p.522).
Individuals with a low self-control level are usually insensitive, impulsive, physically rude and not communicative (DeLisi & Vaughn, 2008, p.523). They are likely to be involved into criminal acts. The problems of such people start from school. However, they are caused by the wrong education of children, leading to the development of criminal careers. Usually parents, who do not take good care of their children, are incapable of distinguishing the deviant behavior of their children. Thus, children in such families cannot resist the temptations.
The findings of the research indicate the prevalence of Hispanic race in the formation of career criminal groups. Other differences in demography between career and non-career criminal groups were not indicated in the paper. Thus, the research comes to the conclusion that low self-control level greatly increases the probability of career criminal membership. Moreover, the empirical research proves that the self-control theory states that it can be applied in the investigation of criminal careers and might positively affect the violent career criminals.
Raymond Paternoster discusses the criminal deterrence theory and the way it explains the modern deterrence methods that are implied by the governments through different sanctions. The author of the article gives a brief overview of criminal deterrence theory, together with its implications in the work of law-enforcement bodies. The criminal deterrence theory states that the loss of freedom promotes prevention of the unlawful actions, thus deterring crimes (Paternoster, 2010, p.782). However, the punishments hardly influence the prevention of crimes among individuals. In general, the deterrence of crimes has the constraining effect when illegal actions are the result of the reasonable decision, based on the analysis of expenses and benefits.
Discussing the types of punishments, author of the research touches upon two points of view. The first one states that the illegal actions should be punishable, regardless of the possible future behavior of a criminal. People, breaking the law, must be punished because they deserve it. The purpose of punishment consists in putting blame for the committed crime on a criminal (Paternoster, 2010, p.774). In fact, it is the modern formulation of the ancient principle “measure for measure”. However, there is a set of proofs that the idea of both a crime and punishment depends on a sociocultural context, and, therefore, changes depending on a situation (Paternoster, 2010, p.775).
The empirical support of the criminal deterrence theory proves that the theory works and can be applied in practice. However, there is also a skeptical opinion, stating that deterrence can affect the level of crimes, but this effect can have different force in different justice systems. There is a big gap between expectations of the deterrence effect on the legal system and the real consequences of the deterrence. The crime deterrence theory is widely applied in practice. Any crime should be punished. However, the modern western laws often define a criminal absolutely differently, and the same happens with the methods of punishment.
The given research paper gives a brief analysis of the four article, discussing the criminological theories. At present, it is possible to claim that any original criminological research has the right to apply for a certain direction, as it reflects the beginning of the methodological pluralism, and bears a deep trace of the subjective perception of criminal problems.