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Towards a Theoretical Explanation of Crime

NCJ Number
Social Defence Volume: 14 Issue: 56 Dated: (April 1979) Pages: 30-42
S Sodhi
Date Published
13 pages
This article classifies current criminal theories of behavior under five major groups and suggests that the interactionist theory of Eysenck, by combining both hereditary and environmental factors, increased the understanding of the criminal.
The philosophical or Indian viewpoint of Karma views crime as an action or effect of that which is produced by the effort of the will. Other more scientific theories are concerned with attributing crime to physiological or biological reasons alone, such as Lombroso's theory of criminal types or Sheldon's theory of somatotypes. Psychological theories are based on the central hypothesis that the critical causal factors or variables center around personality problems to which criminal deviance is presumed to be a response. They include psychoanalytic theories, family influence theories, theories of learned social patterns, and theories of individual differences in immunity against criminality. Sociological theories of crime were emphasized in the subcultural explanations of Wolfgang and Ferracuti or in the structural theories of Durkheim and Merton who emphasized the effects of groups. A sociopsychological interactionist theory as found in Sutherland's theory of differential association or Lemert's two categories of deviation offers some explanation of criminality and of the role that group and society play in learning. However, sociologists so far have been unable to explain the prevalence of crime in affluent as well as poor societies or why particular individuals succumb to undesirable environmental influences. This is better specified by such theories as those of Eysenck who tried to relate biological, sociological, and psychological factors to a general interactionist theory of crime. In addition, his theory appears to be quantifiable and warranting testability. Fifty-three references are give.


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