Law Assignment


How would the perspective “social conflict and critical criminology” critique the following perspectives on crime: (a) trait (that is, biological) theories and, within the framework of developmental theories, (b) the “General Theory”?
Discipline: Criminology 


Class Discussion

The latent trait theory posits that certain features and characteristics that present themselves at birth or soon afterward have a significant impact on whether or not an individual will become a crime-prone at some point in his/her life. Based on the developmental approach, biosocial factors such as body type, intelligence level, and a hyperactive autonomic nervous system, all play a role in the narrow window of decision-making in regards to whether or not to commit or be involved in a crime.    


In contrast, according to the general theory of crime, the main reason behind any form of criminal behavior is the lack of self-control. Developed by Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, the theory also suggests that a child as young as 8 years old who has been exposed to effective parenting is more likely to have a higher level of self-control the one who has not been subjected to proper parentage. Moreover, Gottfredson and Hirschi argue that impulsive personalities contribute to criminal behavior in the sense that some people tend to commit crime without considering available options or consequences.

These two theoretical positions may be challenged using social conflict and critical criminology, which is based on the view that that criminal acts are mainly perpetuated by less advantaged groups in any given society. It argues that criminal behavior cannot simply be explained through a lack of self-control or an individual’s biological makeup. Proponents of social conflict and critical criminology may point out that while it is true that these factors may contribute to the overall motivation to commit a crime, it is not an efficient way of discussing criminal behavior. They also argue that more often than not, criminals are motivated by their social environment, and that his is why the poor are more likely to commit serious crimes than the rich.

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