There are four basic theories of crime, and knowing and understanding each one is imperative for one to succeed in any legal profession. Whether one desires to become a lawyer, crime scene investigator, law enforcement officer, they will need to understand the different theories of crime. Understanding these theories will help with dispute resolution, crime identification, justice for all.

Theory of Crime Characteristics or Beliefs of Theory Solutions to Crime
Classical Theory
  • Crime is caused by the individuals free will
  • Human beings are rational and make decisions freely and with understanding of consequences
  • Crime is an immoral form of human behaviour
  • Such behaviour weakens society
    • Punishment is a necessary evil sometimes intended to deter criminals and serve as an example to those who would violate the law
    • Crime prevention is possible through swift and certain punishment that counters possible gains from criminal behaviour
  • More prisons and stiffer criminal laws with greater penalties for offenders are the best solutions to crime
  • Punishment is a necessary evil sometimes intended to deter criminals and serve as an example to those who would violate the law
  • Crime prevention is possible through swift and certain punishment that counters possible gains from criminal behaviour
  • More prisons and stiffer criminal laws with greater penalties for offenders are the best solutions to crime
Biological Theory
  • The basic determinants of human behaviour are to a considerable degree, determined by genetics
  • These basic determinants of human behaviour may be passed from one generations to the next
  • Human DNA, environmental contaminants, nutrition, hormones, trauma to the brain, exposure to drugs and alcohol during pregnancy and body chemistry can all contribute to criminal behaviour.
  • Historically, individuals with genetic defects have been sterilized (meaning there will be no offspring)
  • Research  to find genes that encourage criminal behaviour
  • Research into medicines (tranquilizers, anti-psychotic drugs and other mood altering drugs to control behaviour)
Sociological Theory
  • Social Environment as the cause of criminal behaviour
  • Weak, broken bonds with family, school, religion as catalyst to human behaviour
  • People engage in criminal behaviour because they do not see the benefits of adhering to conventional social values and believe that crime is a way to improve their social, financial conditions
  • Positive alternatives divert people’s actions away from criminal activity and create a sense of belonging, competence,  and empowerment
  • Social programs that change the cultural and social conditions that lead people to crime
  • Government programs with funding to alleviate poverty
  • Positive alternatives divert people’s actions away from criminal activity and create a sense of belonging, competence,  and empowerment
  • Social programs that change the cultural and social conditions that lead people to crime
  • Government programs with funding to alleviate poverty
Interactionist Theory
  • Association with other criminals is the factor most contributing to criminal behaviour among individuals.
  • Failure of self-direction and inadequate social roles are the root causes of behaviour
  • Individuals are looking for acceptance, social standing and power within that group
  • Offenders have the responsibility and ability to change their own behaviours
  • Opportunities for positive interaction with society will enable the criminal to choose productive and lawful behaviours to meet needs
  • Offenders have the responsibility and ability to change their own behaviours
  • Opportunities for positive interaction with society will enable the criminal to choose productive and lawful behaviours to meet needs
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Theories of Crime: Classical, Biological, Sociological, Interactionist," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/theories-of-crime-classical-biological-sociological-interactionist/.

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Kondwani J.
Kondwani J.
4 months ago

I’m interested in joining the discussion. Great article

Joshua P.
Joshua P.
2 years ago

Aren’t there five of them?

Adamu Ardo Sanda
Adamu Ardo Sanda
Reply to  Joshua P.
3 months ago

I’m interested in this area. You may wish to include my name please. Thank you!