Examining Motivations For Criminal Behavior Essay

1975 words - 8 pages

This Essay will look at examples of Crime such as shoplifting, fighting, vandalism, drug abuse and the offenders’ recall of their motivations for engaging in criminal behaviours, whilst simultaneously trying to apply effective Criminological theory of Neutralization based on the offenders’ viewpoints. Here we examine a closely related set of criminal events focusing on the ‘crime orientation’ of offenders or how each participant positioned themselves in relation to crime (Teevan, 2000). This Essay will argue that these types of crime are strongly linked to techniques of neutralisation based on offender recounts, although other theories can be applicable due to limitations of providing a single succinct theory. In this sense it is true to argue that attempting to provide a single universal theory of criminal behaviour that subsumes all others is not desirable when one accepts the nature of diversity and possible multiple realities. This perspective highlights that individual theories may provide some helpful insight into the proximate causes of offending for some, yet it may be limited to provide explanations for others (Byrne, Trew, 2005). However this essay will argue by applying the theory of neutralisation that argues delinquents as conformists who drift in and out of delinquency when temporary neutralizations allow them to explaining why most young men eventually grow out of their deviance (Matza 1964, Agnew1994).
Offenders’ first person accounts will often justify their reasons for committing a criminal offence, and this is useful for understanding and applying a criminological theory based their viewpoints. Authors (Morris & Copes, 2012) argue one of the most important aspects of delinquency is how an individual can distance themselves from the crime so as to preserve self-concept. It is through neutralization techniques that the offenders are able to pre-emptively neutralize the guilt of their own actions and thus are able to drift in and out of delinquent and conventional behaviours whilst maintaining a positive self perception (Sykes and Matza, 1957).
Emler and Reicher (1995) recommend thinking about the interaction between the individual and their social context, considering both individual and societal influences as they interact and are experienced by the individual at the social psychological level. Moreover, the term crime orientation can be used to describe how an individual stands in relation to crime, through an evaluative component of feelings and attitudes about offending, and an Identity component in relation to how one portrays themselves in alignment with crime and the role of crime on one’s identity (Byrne, Trew, 2005). A positive crime orientation is where crime is accepted, positively valued and forms a coherent part of one’s identity. For example, participants often described offending as something that they enjoyed and got satisfaction from. For some participants crime also represented an important and consistent part...

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