In the late 1800s and early 1900s, German sociologist Max Weber was a famous social scientist, whose theories on social interaction formed the basis of the field. Social interaction theories are divided into two categories: social process and social reaction. These theories seek to explain criminality through the viewpoint that criminality is a social process. Social process theory views criminality as a function of people's interactions with various organizations, institutions, and processes in society; people in all walks of life have the potential to become criminals if they maintain destructive social relationships. Social process theories include social learning theories and social control theories.
Social learning theories stresses that people learn how to commit crimes. These include: Differential association theories which focuses on the frequency, duration, intensity and meaningfulness of association of social relations. Differential anticipation theory which proposes that people commit crimes whenever and wherever expectation of gain from the criminal act exceeds the expected loss with respect to social bond, (Hunter, Dantzker 2012). Imitation theories imply that individuals engage in behavior that they have previously witnessed others doing. Differential reinforcement theory which states that a person’s actions are in part determined by what they perceive the consequences of their action or lack of action will be. (www.children.gov.on.ca)
Social control theory assume that human nature is the motivator for criminal behavior, and that if some type of outside control did not exist, individuals would naturally commit crimes. Containment theorist Reckless claimed that each person has inner and outer controls that push him toward conformity or pull him toward criminality, while Hirschi’s social control theory suggests that someone’s bond to society prevents him from participating in criminal behavior and that if the bond weakens individuals feel free to commit crime. (Hunter, Dantzker 2012).
Social reaction theories include labeling and symbolic interactionist. According to Hunter et al social reaction theories explain the initial occurrence of criminal behavior in light of societal reaction to individuals or groups who are different from the norm.
Labeling theory (Wellford, 1975) when a person is labeled as a criminal by society, they are likely to accept this label because the person now thinks of himself as a criminal, he is now likely to continue in his criminal behavior (Becker, 1963). Theory of deviant behavior states that individuals who lack desirable social traits become isolated which then leads to self-hate which leads to defiance to conventional values. Differential social control explains how youth’s perception lead to deviance and defiance theory asserts that when offenders are treated unfairly they are likely to act defiantly and criminal sanctions will not bring about the intended effect of reducing crime.
Symbolic interactionist theory focuses on how human behavior is influenced by how situations are perceived and interpreted and that individuals alter behavior based on how they think others perceive them. Neutralization theory (Matza and Sykes) according to Hunter et al, assumes that youths learn ways to neutralize society’s moral constraints and will periodically drift in and out of criminal behavior. In addition commitment to conformity theory (Briar and Piliavin) assumes that short-term stimuli that influence behavior are controlled by the individual’s commitment to conventional society and that this commitment helps individuals resist temptation. (Hunter, Dantzker 2012). (510 words)
2. Explain personality theory. Discuss psychopathology as it applies to criminal behavior. Personality according to