The Three Perspectives of Viewing Crime
Crime refers to any act that is committed by violating the law, and when somebody is punished upon conviction by the court. It is punishable according to its seriousness. More serious offenses are imposed harsher penalties. Punishments include a fine, incarceration, probation, and capital punishment. According to cases recorded in the world, the crime rate has increased. However, some crimes are not reported, and therefore, the recorded number cannot give a conclusive figure of criminal activities in a certain country. Through impacts on individuals and indirect effects on society at large, crime has direct links to the health and well-being of society among other factors. Criminology experts mostly base their views on the number of theories that express and show particular characteristics and behavior patterns that can lead to and constitute unbecoming or criminal behavior. These theories provide different perspectives concerning the causes that make individuals engage in criminal activities in society. The criminologist’s choice of the theory or preference depends much on the clarity of crime evidence. Therefore, the criminal justice system considers three main views during crime investigation that help to determine causes and motives behind criminal acts.
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Perspectives of Viewing Crime
Consensus Views on Crime
This view states that crimes are behavior patterns that are offensive or revolting against some elements associated with society. It states that there are rules that give a description and classification of crimes and punishment and are referred to as a substantive criminal law. The latter shows values, beliefs, and opinions of people, and therefore, it is upon society to control them and conduct appropriately. Individuals need to set and understand the notion of acceptable behavior. Concerning the view, onsensus is required since there is an insinuation that in society, there is conformity concerning what behaviors are intolerable or undesirable and thus need to be considered as criminal. Examples of consensus crimes in the USA are a murder, armed robbery, and rape among others. Society should appoint an appropriate punishment relevant to the crime committed. According to this view, unwanted or criminal behaviors are linked with social harm. In other words, behavior patterns that bring harm to an individual and society at large should be controlled and stopped (Durrant & Ward, 2012).
Conflict Views on Crime
This view treats crime as a result of a conflict in society. It argues that the class conflict is the major cause of crime within society. Powerful people create laws to protect their rights and interests. The theory contends that social groups share different values and do not agree on the acts considered criminalized as well as the types of penalties for committed crimes. Therefore, the justice system is biased and meant to protect the wealthy. American society criminalizes and targets subordinates and punishes them unfairly, while dominant groups may not be punished for unbecoming behaviors. For example, the poor consume less pure cocaine, while the rich use the powdered one. However, the sentence for both users is the same. The disparity in the kinds of punishment had remained up to 2010 when President Obama reviewed the act (Durrant & Ward, 2012). According to Karl Marx, the competitive nature of the capitalist system is a major cause of crime. The poor resort to crimes because of their frustration as well as anger, while the wealthy do the same since they must compete and guard their positions in society (Raine, 2013). Therefore, class conflicts contribute to crime rates greatly, destabilizing society.
Interactionism Views of Crime
This perspective views society as a prroduct of social interactions among individuals. As a result, the latter assign symbols and create meanings of things based on their relationships with one another. Raine (2013) states that a person learns the type of behavior through interactions with other people within the community. In other words, individuals acquire both accepted as well as criminal ways of behavior from their interactions with others in society. For example, a child growing up in a family where there are thieves is likely to become a thief. The theory explains why those who grow up in crime-ridden areas are more likely to commit crimes. Therefore, most people are criminals because they associate and interact with such. Deviants learn values that are not accepted by society. For example, they may consider stealing, using drugs and wearing weapons as desired behaviors. Furthermore, people act and acquire their roles through interaction. As a result of the latter, they negotiate the situation they find themselves in and construct the reality socially. They rely on symbols such as gestures to understand their situation. For example in the USA, shaking hands symbolizes greetings and friendship, and thus it means that a person is very nice (Durrant & Ward, 2012).
Society continues to experience all sorts of crime every day. The effort to enforce punishments and correct unbecoming behavior has not been successful. The perspectives of viewing crime analyzed above provide different explanations of the motives behind criminal acts. According to these views, societal norms and values, inequalities, as well as environments, are major factors contributing to crime and deviant behavior among most people. Correcting these problems can eventually decrease crime rates and improve the relationship among people making them realize their potential. Moreover, reducing the gap between the poor and the wealthy can prove the most effective approach to solving the problem of crime.
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