The Social Theories of Crime


Crime has been with humankind since time immemorial. Chester & Michael (2007) define crime as an act of a person(s) that has a negative implication on another or others, and is considered legally as thus and therefore would warrant some degree of punishment depending on its intensity. A crime is an offense done by one individual (or a group of individuals) against another individual or group; and one, which may warrant some form of punishment on the offender. A person who gets involved in such an act is referred to as a criminal.

The current society is filled with criminals and criminal offenses. Criminal activities are reported daily, while others go unnoticed. The degree of a crime varies, depending on its effect on the victim. The victim is the person who suffers from criminal acts, while the person inflicting the suffering is known as the offender, or betters still, a criminal. The prevalence of crime in our society has seen many scholars develop an interest in this field. These scholars have given this topic a different approach and from it, many theories have been developed. These theories have been popularly referred to as Social Theories of Crime.

Social Theories of Crime is a reflection of the perception of society members towards crime, the criminals, and the victims of crime. They are theories that look at what society thinks of a crime as an act and a criminal as a person. Various societies categorize various crimes differently and mate different punishments for similar crimes depending on the weight they attach to such an act. One of the worst forms of punishment has been death, especially that done by mob justice. This has led to some questions that these theories set to answer. One such question is, is there a crime that is punishable by death? Is death justifiable for certain crimes? When would we say that one should deserve such a punishment? Such are some of the questions that social theories of crime set to answer. One such popular theory is the theory of victimization.

Theories of Victimization

This theory is a comprehensive outlook of crime and criminal acts, the factors that contribute to it, and its implications to the victims, the offenders, and those closely related to them. One of the prepositions of this theory is that where the ratio of men to that of women is less, then the likelihood of having criminal activities in that area may be high (Michael, & Travis,1990). This is so because many men will be reluctant to marry, and the few who do, are most likely to divorce, making the society lack the conventional family structure. Children who grow up without a fatherly figure are more likely to lack the right morals that are expected of them. Although this theory has a very direct interpretation and the truth is it is very open, it contradicts the theory put forth by Linda (2011).

This scholar notes that, in places where men are more than women, crimes are most likely to occur. This scholar explains that men commit most of the social crimes. One such major crime is robbery with violence. This theory further explains that one major reason why men would get involved in such acts is their attempt to please women. In case the population of men is more than that of women, there would be attempts by men to please the few women available, and the way to do this would demand finance. In case such individuals have no access to direct legal sources of finance, they would resort to crime as the alternative. This would result in a society that is so rampant with crime.


Victimology refers to the scientific study of victimization (Claire, Daniel, & Patrick, 2002). It is a comprehensive study of crime as an act, victim of the crime, the offender; and how these factors relate to one another. It also involves an analysis of how these factors relate to law and law enforcement agents. It also covers the role played by society and societal groupings, media, and other social forums. Some of the factors covered by victimology include the following.

Factors that Make one a Victim

Victims indeed suffer the brunt of a criminal act. Also true is the fact that in many cases, the offenders always attack when the victims least expect the attack. However, it is necessary to have an analysis of some of the factors that make one more prone to criminal acts. For criminal acts like robbery, the time and place of the victims always playoff as a major reason in the attack. An individual who is drunk and finds himself or herself in less populated streets with poor lighting is at more risk of a robbery attack.

This victim created avenues through which he or she would be a victim of such a crime. Similarly, if a lady who is provocatively dressed visits a male individual in a very private room with no other individuals around, she may find herself a victim of rape. In this case, it may be a bit complicated. Unlike in the robbery case where the offender motivated himself or herself to rob, without any prompt from the victim, the latter case may be taken as a mistaken interpretation. This is especially so when such a provocative dress is accompanied by very seductive talks and signs of acceptance of the act.

The offender may take such actions of the victims as an indirect invitation to such an act. The offender, therefore, goes ahead to commit the crime, with very little knowledge that the act is a criminal offense. Another factor that would make one an easy target of a criminal offense like rape is excessive drinking of alcohol. After taking alcohol, one loses consciousness and self-control. They become easy to manipulate and the result is always a rape case. Larry (2009) notes that both men and women are faced with the danger of rape. This scholar reports on an incident where a male security officer found himself a victim of the same, in a girls’ high school where he was guarding. The students dragged him into one of the dormitories and the assault began. Unable to withstand the injuries, the man passed on a short while after the assault (Larry, 2009). In this case, it may not be very easy to determine the motivating factor that drove the students into this act and they may not have much to defend themselves within a court of law.

Preventive Mechanisms

It is easier to prevent a crime than to protect oneself when faced with such an unfortunate scenario (Marsh & Gaynor). It is therefore advisable for everyone to ensure that they play their role in ensuring that society is free of criminal acts. The government should ensure that employment opportunities are available to the youths to reduce the need to get involved in criminal activities. According to the report by Claire (2002) in the city of New York, it has been proven that lack of employment is the main reason that makes youths consider criminal acts as the alternative means of employment. The government should further ensure that street lightings and other security lights are properly functioning. To avoid situations of robbery, it is important to ensure that isolated areas are avoided, especially at night. Ladies are advised to ensure that they avoid provocative dress and seductive language towards men. Morals should be instilled in children at an early age. They should grow up appreciating the importance of maintaining moral behavior in society.


Crime has been one of the major impediments to development in many societies. A crime manifests itself in various ways and if not put under check, society may turn out to be very dangerous. Criminal activities like robbery with violence, rape cases, and burglary among others are the most common types of criminal activities that societies are faced with. The solution lies with the members of society. Their effort will determine the behavior of the youths who accounts for the highest percentage of the criminals. It is the role of every society member to ensure that the society we live in is safe.


Chester, L. & Michael R. (2007). Control Theories of Crime and Delinquency. Chicago: Transaction Publishers.

Claire, M., Daniel J. & Patrick J. (2002). Theories of Crime: A Reader. New York: Allyn and Bacon.

Claire, V. (2002). Theories of Crime and Punishment. London: Longman Publishers.

Marsh, I. & Gaynor M. (2006). Theories of Crime. New York: Routledge.

Larry, J. (2009). Criminology. New York: Cengage Learning.

Linda, A. (2011). Understanding Social Problems. New York: Cengage Learning.

Michael, R. & Travis, H. (1990). A General Theory of Crime. California: Stanford University Press.