Theories are statements that are formulated to explain specific aspects of world processes. Theories systematically employ high quality of knowledge and specific scenarios to elaborate the truth concerning certain phenomena. Theories can therefore employ real knowledge or can be hypothetical unless proven. For instance, various theories have been used to explain criminology. In criminology, theories used to define this study focus on the cause, extent, prevalence, and how governments respond to incidences of crime. This paper will find out the differences that exist between social conflict and the social processes theories, and finally, determine which theory best explains criminal behavior.
Social conflict theories
Social conflict theories explain the cause of indifferences that result from the members of the same society. These theories base the causes of conflict on the struggle for the limited resources of the world. Many people wish to have considerable amounts of resources to satisfy their basic and secondary wants. Supporting these theories Marx (1971) argued that “individuals and groups (social classes) within society have differing amounts of material and non-material resources (the wealthy versus the poor) and that the more powerful groups use their power to exploit groups with less power”. In this perspective, economic and brutal forces are used for exploitation to take place. Marx (1971) identified “control theory, strain theory, functionalist theory and the theory of deviance” as the theories in this category. Marx (1971) argued that money is a cause of all the evils, for instance, companies pay less to workers so as they can make more money. These theories, therefore, seem to address the causes of social and economic disorders in society.
Social process theories
On the other hand, social process theories are theories that tend to address the cause of social disorders from the perspective of crimes. The major theories in this category are social reaction theory, social learning theory, and social control theory. These theories explain criminal behaviors as resulting from the socialization process. According to Marx (1971) “these theories suggests that offenders turn to crime as a result of peer group pressure, family problems, poor school performance, legal entanglements and other situations that gradually steer them to criminal behaviors”. These theories also link the source of crimes with the way children are brought up in society. The central argument is that children who grow up in a violent environment tend to inherit that same trend. However, these theories differ from the social conflict theories since they consider the source of social disorder to be violence. This is so because people engage in criminal activities so that they can be able to acquire some resources by the use of violence. On the other hand, social conflict theories state that powerful people use wealth to exploit the least powerful thereby, using the resources of the poor.
From the discussion, a comparison of the two theories can establish that social processes theories best explain criminal behaviors. All the theories in this category tend to explain the root cause of criminality. According to Marx (1971) “Each of these theories seeks to explain criminality and the perpetration of criminal acts through the viewpoint of criminality as a social process”. These theories argue that no one is raised to become a criminal in the future and therefore, this is a trait that grows from what people learn when they interact with each other.
Marx, K. (1971). Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. London: James and Sons Publishers.