What is the Cause of Crime?
Since the age of enlightenment, thinking men have sought to understand why some people commit crime and others do not. In the 19th Century, social sciences developed around several theories about crime. Yet, to date, no single theory has answered that simple question: What is the cause of crime?
In fact, theories of crime causation are about as abundant as criminologists. Virtually every professional researcher has his or her own theory as to what causes crime. However, as with Psychology and other related sciences, all seem to offer viable explainations, yet not the complete picture.
The situation is like the old story of six blind men touching an elephant. The story goes that each blind man touched a different part of the elephant and came to a different conclusion as to the beasts appearance. An intense argument then ensued as each defended what they determined was truty. In reality, all were right; each blind man simply had a narrow view of the creature. Had any expanded their investigation, he would have found the others correct, though partially.
20 Theories of the Cause of Crime
Theories regarding the causes of criminal behavior are many. In fact, there are too many to include on a single web page. However, there are numerous crime causation theories which have gained attention because each holds very important clues to the whole of the picture. Following are 20 of the most recognized theories in criminal justice research…
- Anomie/Strain theory
- Anthropological theory
- Biological Positivism theory
- Classical Theory
- Conflict Theory
- Contemporary Trait theory
- Labeling theory
- Life Course Theory
- Marxism Theory
- Positivist theory
- Psychodynamic Trait Theory
- Psychological theory
- Rational choice theory
- Routine theory
- Social control theory
- Social disorganization theory
- Social learning theory
- Social Structure theory
- Sociological theory
- Subcultural theory
Note that these crime causation theories are listed in alphabetical order. By listing them in this way, we avoid emphasis on any particular theory. This is because there is truth to be found in each; though none present the entire story. For this reason, these and others that arise will be explored.
We will be exploring each of these along with specialized theories in greater detail in this section of pages. In addition, specialized crime theories, such as related to Organized Crime, Political Crime/Corruption, Violent Crime, and more will be examined.
The Goal of Criminal Justice Law in Exploring Theories of the Causes of Crime
The goal for exploring these theories of the cause of crime is to help all students of and professionals within criminal justice and the legal system better understand how to combat crime. This will be done by expanding the image of crime and the causes of crime. Although theories of the cause of crime are important, we believe that of greater importance is seeing the entire picture–the whole elephant, if you will.
So in presenting information related to the causes of crime (theories), we encourage all our readers to not focus on one, but rather attempt to see them all at once.