Insights and Limitations for Understanding Crime as a Social Learning Process

Culture and Crime ANT 230. i folks,

welcome to the second forum.

the second chapter is just a bunch of theories about the scientific analysis of human violence. Be patient, this is the last theoretical stuff we have to deal with. So either you have “internal” theories – biological or psychological – or “external” theories, which blame society – like sociology and anthropology.

Remember a couple of important concepts:

Socialization: in anthropology it means basically that every individual is a “blank slate” and he/she gets litterally shaped by the external social forces.

Anomie: a situation in which in a certain society there is a disconnection between the values and the goals. For example in our society – which is pretty anomic – the values are honesty, hard work, etc., while the goals are becoming rich and famous. Of course there is a disconnection, as following the above-mentioned values doesn’t lead you to the above-mentioned goals.

Labelling theory: according to this theory, when you commit a crime – called primary deviance – you get labelled a “criminal”. This labelling process, called secondary deviance, litterally forces you to commit other crimes, as you are deprived of the possibility of re-enter society. For example, if you steal and get caught, you’ll be labelled a thief, and this will prevent or make hard for you to find a job, which will force you to steal again.

As usual, one post and two SUBSTANTIAL comments,

Socialization Theory: Insights and Limitations for Understanding Crime
Crime as a Social Learning Process
Socialization theory posits that individuals learn criminal or deviant behaviors through interaction with others in their social environment. According to this view, children and adolescents are “blank slates” who absorb the values and behaviors modeled by parents, peers, and other socializing agents (Akers and Sellers, 2018). Extensive research supports the idea that crime and delinquency are social phenomena, influenced significantly by one’s social context and relationships (Pratt et al., 2010).
One insight of socialization theory is that it highlights crime and deviance as normal behaviors that can be acquired through regular social and observational learning (Akers and Sellers, 2018). From this perspective, criminal acts do not stem from inherent pathology or individual deficits, but rather result from exposure to criminal definitions and differential associations that promote such behaviors as acceptable means to an end (Akers and Jennings, 2019). Studies show association with delinquent peers in particular increases the likelihood of engaging in criminal conduct (Matsueda and Anderson, 1998).
A limitation, however, is that socialization theory does not account for individual variability in susceptibility to environmental influences or intrinsic motivations for crime (Pratt et al., 2010). Not all individuals exposed to the same criminogenic setting go on to offend, suggesting other intrapsychic and biological factors also play a role (Barnes et al., 2016). Additionally, socialization is a two-way process – individuals are not just passive recipients of social forces but rather active agents who interpret and respond to their social world in complex ways (Akers and Sellers, 2018).
The Interplay of Social and Individual Determinants
To more fully capture the etiology of crime, one must consider how social and individual-level determinants interact in dynamic ways over the life course. As Matsueda and Heimer (1987) propose, people are both products and producers of their social environments – capable of selectively choosing influences while also being constrained by contextual factors beyond their control. An integrated theoretical model that acknowledges crime as arising from an interplay between social learning mechanisms and human agency can provide a more nuanced understanding of criminal offending (Pratt et al., 2010).
In summary, while socialization theory offers valuable insights into the social roots of crime, its limitations stem from an overly deterministic view of human behavior that does not account for individual differences in socialization experiences or capacities for self-direction. Future research exploring gene-environment interplay and person-situation transactions over time can further advance knowledge on the complex etiology of criminal conduct (Barnes et al., 2016). An integrated theoretical approach is needed.

Works Cited
Akers, R. L., & Jennings, W. G. (2019). Social learning theory. In B. Teasdale & M. S. Bradley (Eds.), Preventing crime and violence. Springer. research essay writing service.
Akers, R. L., & Sellers, C. S. (2018). Criminological theories: Introduction, evaluation, and application (7th ed.). Oxford University Press.
Barnes, J. C., Wright, B. R. E., & Boutwell, B. B. (2016). Further specification of the social transmission of crime model: Exploring the effects of peer delinquency on gene–environment interplay. Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology, 2(2), 189–207.
Matsueda, R. L., & Anderson, K. (1998). The dynamics of delinquent peers and delinquent behavior. Criminology, 36(2), 269–308.
Matsueda, R. L., & Heimer, K. (1987). Race, family structure, and delinquency: A test of differential association and social control theories. American Sociological Review, 52(6), 826–840.
Pratt, T. C., Cullen, F. T., Blevins, K. R., Daigle, L. E., & Madensen, T. D. (2010). The empirical status of deterrence theory: A meta‐analysis. In F. T. Cullen, J. P. Wright, & K. R. Blevins (Eds.), Taking stock: The status of criminological theory (Vol. 15, pp. 367–396). Transaction Publishers.

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