The Sociological and Psychological Theories of Crime 

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Crime, being a common feature in the globe, calls for concern among people especially in the circle of criminologists. Crime is described as when an individual grossly commits a breach at the law of a certain country or group of people, which is punishable by the government of such country or institution. Likewise, it is necessary to define deviant behaviour in a bit to give substance to the causation of crime in society. Deviant behaviour is depicted as a different way or contrary mentality through which people do things that are considered as abnormal in society.This report is to compare and contrast two sociological theories of crime causation. Similarly, two psychological theories would be compared and contrast in regard to the causes of crime.

The Two Sociological Theories of Crime

From the concept ‘Sociology’ which is based on the study of the function, development as well as the structure of human society, some criminologist had propounded different theories to substantiate the sociological causation of crime in any society. These sociological theories are few in number nevertheless, the emphasis here is to choose only two of them in an attempt to compare and contrast them to the effect why crimes are perpetrated in human societies. The two sociological theories to be discussed are the Sociological Positivism Theory and the Self-Control Theory.

Sociological Theories of crime

Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) one of the proponents of the sociological positivism theory to the causation in criminal act opined that poverty and low levels of education among members of a society can rouse the tendency in an individual to perpetrate crime. One of the advocates of this theory adopted reliable information and statistical analysis to examine the relationship that exists between crime and possible sociological factors that can prompt crime. Hence, he discovered among other things that poverty, alcohol consumption and illiteracy can be responsible for why crimes are being committed in society. The emphasis here, therefore, is that when the government of any country fails to provide quality education for her citizen, the criminal practice would become the order of the day. Unemployment is an undeniable parameter for measuring crime in most nations of the world. This suggests that the environment where an individual grows or born into could subject people into committing crimes. Another exponent of this theory, Rawson W. Rawson (1812-1899), engaged the use of crime statistics of a densely populated area to disclose that crime rate could be more common and frequent in such location. Ultimately, Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), one of the great fathers of sociology, submitted that the unequal distribution of wealth in different societies of the world is the cause of crime. He claimed, where wealth is not evenly distributed among the people within a society; then, crime is inevitable.

On the other hand, some sociologists projected some divergent theories to counter the views of the likes of Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) and Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) who maintained the view that crimes could be perpetrated because of unequal distribution of wealth, low levels of education and the high rate of unemployment in the society. In opposition, the advocates of social control theory in relation to criminal offenses; considered the reason why crime should not be committed rather than bearing in mind the factors that could trigger crime in the society. One of the exponents of this theory, called Travis Hirschi (1935-2017) asserted that people can stay out of crime when they give credence to moral validity. According to him, crime could be checked when people get involved in conventional activities with the determination to accomplish a great task. He claimed that lack of self-control is the reason why people go into crime.

The Psychological Theories of Crime

One of the renowned psychologists who ever lived was (Sigmund Freud 1933). He was the first person to coin psychoanalysis theory to describe how an individual commits a crime. He engaged three basic descriptions, which are: the id, the ego, and the superego to validate how crimes are carried out. He explained that the id describes the elementary nature of humans’ mental structure at birth. This is the stage at which the unconscious crave for self-indulgence and pleasure, plays high; which has a strong link with criminal conduct. This explains why some criminals commit a crime without taking into consideration the interest of others. Freud (1933) authenticated that the ego is meant to make good the lapses of the id by checking individual behaviour within the boundaries of the society. The third apparatus, superego grows up in an individual and instills the sense of moral standards in such person to meet the values of the society. Parents, friends, and clergymen are the agents of these moral standards. The focal point of the superego is morality and judging human behaviour and action. So, if anyone commits a crime, it is assumed such fellow has a weak superego.

Contrariwise, Charles Goring (1870-1919) has a divergent view from Freud (1933), he claimed that people could commit crime probably, out of insanity or they are unintelligent. All these culminate in poor social behaviour in those convicted as criminals. Also, in the opinion of, he argued that people perpetrate crime through what is called imitation. That is, people can learn how crimes are carried out.


Crime is a common phenomenon in the world system. No nation of the world is crime free. The perpetration of crime has become a major concern to some scholars in the field of criminology, psychology, and sociology. This informed the reason for the intuition behind the criminal act. Consequently, different theories have been propounded to prove why individual perpetrate crimes. For Charles Goring (1870-1919), he submitted that people carry out crime perhaps their brain system is not in good shape. While the likes of (Travis Hirchi 1935-2017) proclaim that people engage in crime because they lack self-control. On the side of (Sigmund Freud 1933), he used three apparatus, which are, id, ego, and superego to explain how crimes become part of a human being.


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The Sociological and Psychological Theories of Crime . (2020, Nov 03). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-sociological-and-psychological-theories-of-crime/

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