Biological Behavioral Psychodynamic

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Biological Behavioral Psychodynamic

Biological Behavioral Psychodynamic


A recurrent theme in the macro-level criminology literature suggests that crime rates vary directly with the extent of social inequality. In fact, both classic and contemporary crime scholars proffer the thesis that inequality in income, employment, and education are predictive of crime. Generally speaking, theories of the nexus between inequality and crime can be sorted into two groups. The first group consists of theories that envision social inequality as a salient cause of criminal behavior. In contrast, the second group argues that social inequality affects the definition of crime and the application of criminal justice mechanisms.


Relative Deprivation Theory

The most prominent inequality-crime argument is the relative deprivation thesis. This argument suggests that criminal behavior is motivated by a feeling of injustice that individuals experience when they become aware that others are more economically advantaged. Relative deprivation is thus a social-psychological construct that arises from a subjective perception of inequity. Because individuals who exhibit little objective economic need can perceive that they have less than others, the relative deprivation explanation can be applied to criminality at lower as well as upper ends of the economic distribution. Despite its conceptualization in social-psychological terms, relative deprivation has appeared most prominently in macro-level, or community, research on crime. Thus, scholars have argued that relative deprivation is a mechanism by which economic inequality affects crime rates in aggregate units such as states, counties, cities, or neighborhoods. Overall, research evidence is mixed when it comes to the hypothesis that greater overall income inequality is predictive of higher crime rates. (Reiman, 2007)

Strain Theory

The notion that social inequality is a key component in the genesis of criminal motivation is also a component of Robert Merton's anomie/strain theory. However, Merton suggests that criminal motivation arises in response to a confluence of ...
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