Social process theory states that criminal behavior is as a result of the socialization process including the socio psychological interaction by the criminal with social organizations and institutions. The social process theory suggests that criminals opt to be involved in crime as a result of poor academic performance, pressure from colleagues, family issues, and legal entanglements in addition to other challenging situations. The theory mentions that anyone can be a criminal and is supported by the effect of family on young ones whereby there is a connection between behavioral problems and childhood experiences of hostility. Social structure theory states that the economically disadvantaged class is the society are the primary cause of crime since the neighborhoods in which they reside create forces of disorganization, strain and frustration that lead to crime (Lilly, Cullen & Ball, 2011). Social process theorists were able to attack the empirical research and theoretical construction associated with social structural theorists following certain disparities. For example, strain may not necessarily be a product of an effort to live a better life bur rather a combination of strains such as abuse, poverty, neglect, deviant values, subcultures and homelessness.
This implies that there may be several factors involved when an individual is inclined to commit a crime by belonging to a disadvantaged economic class. An individual may be poor but have enough flexibility instilled by family values enabling him make lawful choices. Furthermore, some aspects of the social structure theory are outdates following diverse community initiatives that promote community participation and culture pride in the disadvantages communities that have not been accounted for. The social structure theory also utilizes institutional anomie that focuses on giving individuals an option of leaving their disadvantaged neighborhoods without considering any disruptions. It is evident that even though the theory addresses different events and factors in diverse neighborhoods in the society that require attention (option to be involved in drug trafficking or form gangs) there are many forces that counter these crime fostering situations (Goes, Hughes, &Geerken, 1985).
Social learning, social bond and social reaction theories are classified as social processes theories as they all try to explain human deviance and the perpetration of criminal actions from the perspective of criminality as a social process (Maxfield and Babbie, 1998). Social bond theory states that criminality is the outcome of weakened ties in the society. The theory put across by Hirschi implies that essentially everyone has the capacity and mentality to commit crime however; they have attachments to society through peers, family and friends and the fright of what they may think of them when they commit a crime. This implies that there are no competing subcultures in the society but rather four elements that govern an individual’s choice of behavior that is belief, involvement, attachment and commitment (Short and Nye, 1958).
Social reaction theory states that criminal attitudes and behavior are developed by negative social relations. The theory uses belief that symbols used in relations and people’s interpretation of them shapes an individual’s behavior hence an explanation to the labels society gives to individuals, stigmatize the individuals they are directed to and serve to reduce their self image. Once an individual commits a crime and agrees to the labels that the public gives them, they become more inclined to nonstandard behavior than their equivalents that have not been labeled (O'Brien, 1985). Social learning on the other hand states that the process of learning in the context of social situation, structure and relation leads to both deviant and conforming behavior. Deviant behavior depends on the history of punishment and reinforcement whereby rewards for criminal behavior accelerate it. The three theories are similar in that they support early family and social intervention to cultivate good behavior (Akers et al, 1979).
Bandura’s definition of social learning theory is that it is the shared relation between environmental, behavioral and cognitive determinants that shape human behavior. Akers of the other hand proposed that an individual’s probability to engage in deviant behavior is increased when they differentially relate with others engage in criminal behavior. Deviant behavior is expected to be to an extent that it has differentially been reinforced and is defined as desirable (Akers & Sellers, 2013). Akers theory enjoys more empirical support considering experiential research that indicates that an individual’s behavior is conditioned through positive or negative reinforcement. Behavior is also learnt through modeling whereby deviant behavior is encouraged is ones role model engages in the same and is rewarded (Taylor, 1994). Gottfredson and Hirschi conclude that low self esteem is the prime cause of crime since individuals with low self control cannot resist the temptations of immediate satisfaction. The two sociologists explain that self interest motivates human behavior as well as indicate a universal desire to avoid pain and secure pleasures. The level of self control that one exhibits depends on how they were brought up citing the example of children who are closely supervised and monitored by their parents have self control to resist the aspiration to commit a crime. Sampson and Laub on the other hand, using the age graded life course point of view state that both continuity and transformations exist throughout life and changes in human behavior may be as a result of new experiences or social situations (Jacoby, Severance, & Bruce, 2012). Integrated theories of crime refer to multiple factor theories that attempt to combine seemingly independent concepts into coherent rationalizations of criminality. The two approaches are integrated theories of crime since they share a pivotal causal process. Hirschi and Gottfredson claim the sentimental devotion of the parents in the child’s maturity of self control while Laub and Sampson claim the emotional attachment of a previous offender to a prior occupation which leads to abstinence. This links the two approaches to a psychological theory of deviance.
Akers, R.L. & Sellers, C.S. (2013). Criminological theories: Introduction, evaluation, and application (6th ed.). NY: Oxford University Press.
Akers, R.L., Krohn, M.D., Lanza-Kaduce, L., &Radosevich, M. (1979). Social learning and deviant behavior: A specific test of general theory. American Sociological Review 44, pg 635-655.
Goes, Hughes, &Geerken (1985). "Are Uniform Crime Reports a Valid Indicator of Index Crimes: An Affirmative Answer with Minor Qualifications?" Criminology. 23:451-501.
Jacoby, J.E., Severance, T.A., & Bruce, A.S. (2012). Classics of criminology (4th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
Lilly, J.R., Cullen F.T., & Ball, R.A. (2011). Criminological theory: Context and consequences (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Maxfield, M. and Babbie, E. (1998). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology. (2nd ed.) Wadsworth Publishing Co. Chapter 5
O'Brien, R. (1985). Crime and Victimization Data.
Short, J. and Nye, I. (1958). "Extent of Unrecorded Juvenile Delinquency: Tentative Conclusions." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, and Police Science.Vol. 49.
Taylor, R. (1994). Research Methods in Criminal Justice. McGraw-Hill, Inc. Chapters 7-9.