Criminological Theory Based Questions

Answer 4 of the following questions (if you answer more than four, only your first four responses will be graded

1.Describe the major criticisms of Sutherland’s differential association theory and assess the extent to which Akers’ social learning theory overcame these criticismsThe Sutherland differential association theory is one of the theories associated with criminology and the actions of the criminal. This theory believes that the effects of a criminal should not be considered and taken as simple. The criminal’s behaviors are mostly influenced by the people that they most associate with (Cullen, Agnew & Wilcox, 2018). The most common reference group is the family, especially the nuclear family, since the individual grows up and lives with people from this group. The association that a proper form with this group makes them learn or not learn what is considered acceptable or not by society.

Differential theory major criticism is that there is no way to test it empirically. Sutherland did not provide any form of testing this theory, and this made it difficult for a person’s prior criminal attitudes to be determined or previous social positions, and this automatically made no effort in determining the tipping point. It automatically remained unclear what favorable or unfavorable influences could make one become a criminal. Another weakness is the inability to distinguish learned or inherited causes of crime. This rendered it invalid to explaining reasons for offending. Psychologically, it could not be credibly counted on.

The standard approach which ignores biological or inherited reasons is another weakness of this theory. It does not consider that natural causes of crime might be because of stressors like maltreatment. It also does not account for an individual’s difference when pre-disposed to crime. This theory also ignores offense, which might be caused by an individual’s free will. Social learning theory, as advanced by Akers, seeks to extent Sutherland’s differential association theory to mend the loopholes being pointed by the critics. For example, Sutherland argues that criminal behavior is learned through interaction with others but fails to provide how such behavior is learned. Akers makes differential association theory more reliable by employing theories of learning, including social learning theory and behavioral theory to show how criminal behavior is learned (Cullen, Agnew & Wilcox, 2018). With social learning theory, Akers aims at identifying the cause and treatment for a specific type of behavior. The theory provides solutions to different causes of crime. This theory tends to concentrate on an individual and does not tag along with other factors concerned with an individual. It aims at learning carefully and providing solutions.

2. Criminology textbooks tend to get thicker and heavier with each subsequent edition. New theories are added, but none are removed. Can this situation be rectified with theoretical integration?

3. The U.S. criminal justice system has a wide reach, and its impact is not felt equally by race or class. 1 in 33 adults are under some form of criminal justice supervision. 1 in 10 black males age 30 to 34 are in prison or jail compared to 1 in 61 white males age 30 to 34 (Source: BJS report “Correctional Population in the United States, 2010.” NCJ-236319). 1 in 12 blacks will not be allowed to vote in the upcoming presidential election and in some states more than 20% of the black population is barred from voting due to felony disenfranchisement (Source: Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen’s Locked Out). 

Interpret these facts from the perspective of one or more critical criminology or race theories (theories from Part VII or Part XV of the textbook).

4. How does life-course theory help us understand the fact that nearly all serious adult offenders were serious juvenile offenders yet most serious juvenile offenders do not become serious adult offenders? (Answered)

5. Is Hirschi’s (1969) social bonds theory compatible with Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) general theory of crime? Why or why not? (Answered)

6. How might criminal justice sanctions such as arrest and imprisonment increase individual criminal involvement? Identify at least two theories that would suggest this and assess their adequacy. (Answered)

7. Several criminological theories attempt to explain variation in crime at the neighborhood level. Pick one such theory and explain the differences between structural and cultural factors in the explanation of crime at the neighborhood level using this theory. 

8. Criminological theories have public policy implications. Contrast two theories: one which has unworkable or unrealistic policy implications and one which has reasonable policy implications.

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