University: A concern with criminology’s own role in relation to the exercise of power in society led to alternative questions and concerns being asked during the 1970sCriminology, the study of crime and the society’s responses to it has been a topic of concern for sociologists and psychologists. Much of the theory on criminology is based on assumptions about human nature, social influences, and the causes of crime. In the 1970s, the whole subject of crime and related aspects underwent scrutiny by various social scientists and alternative approaches to crime and punishment were seeked.
This paper pertains to the alternative questions raised during the 1970s about the role played out by criminology in exercising power in the society. Sociologists have baffled with the ever-elusive question ‘Are criminals born or made? ’ To understand how criminology has exerted an influence in the power equations of the society, it is important to understand why criminology originated in the first place. It is a science that slowly evolved as an attempt to understand why criminals are made. Theories were slowly developed to find out why all people exposed to the same socio-cultural environment do not turn crime and violence.
The issue of learned behaviour was an important research study area in the 1970s. An apt start would be to trace out the theories in criminology that has influenced public opinion about crime and the way society deals with crime in the centuries. Critical criminologists were mainly concerned with the reflexive aspects of theoretical criminology and have reasserted projects on the traditional criminology in the public domain; such projects have also been backed by government grants. Though many introverted projects arose after the publication in 1973 of ‘The New Criminology’, it didn’t stop the traditionalists from stopping their research on positivistic criminology (Hill, 2002). Theories of CriminologyOut of more than thirteen criminology theories practiced that evolved right from 1876, and which directly or indirectly influence judiciaries and legislatures around the world, only three are considered mainstream (Coser, 2004).
The first ever theory on criminology was related to biochemistry and attributed crime to various hereditary and biological reasons including vitamin deficiency and criminals were treated by isolation and medical applications. But the three mainstream theories include the strain, learning and control theories; the three have played an important role in how we look at criminals and justice systems across the world today.
The Strain theory has associated itself with the ‘American dream’, which is all about getting the best of everything in life-education, money, standard of living and jobs, without actually taking the real life obstacles into consideration. The way out of crime, according to this theory, is to have more opportunities and lesser aspirations. Learning theory is much more individualistic and focuses on what is good and what is bad for particular groups or individuals. Control theories in criminology are all about social control. Only those called containment or low-self control theories have to do with individual psychology. Control theory has pretty much dominated the criminological landscape since 1969. It focuses upon a person's relationships to their agents of socialization, such as parents, teachers, preachers, coaches, scout leaders, or police officers. It studies how effective bonding with such authority figures translates into bonding with society, hence keeping people out of trouble with the law (Coser, 2004).
The control theory is all about increasing the social bonds that a person has, thus diverting his energies into building his family and society and away from negative influences and tendencies.