Crime and Social Processes

Instrumental and Structural Theories

The instrumental theory alleges that the criminal justice system is constantly integrated as a tool of the capitalist class to subjugate the working class. The structural theory shares almost similar ideologies with instrumental perspective. However, it acknowledges that criminal justice systems and regulations subjugate each societal class as opposed to only the socio-economically disadvantaged. Moreover, it affirms that the political state is not under the complete influence of the ruling elite; and that occasionally state regulations may harm the ruling elite. Therefore, from a structural perspective, state organizations function to serve the long-term interests of capitalism while the instrumentalist perspective is centered on the short-term interests of the influential capitalist class. Theorists continue to argue that the contradictions within the capitalist system constituting financial crisis and class struggles generate the capital accumulation crisis that further widens the gap between classes.

Life Course Theory and Propensity and Trajectory Theories

The life course perspective is a multidisciplinary approach that targets to comprehend the social, psychological, and physical aspects of individuals by incorporating life stage concepts that determine the trajectory of criminal behavior. This theory further affirms that the understanding of criminality necessitates the consideration of multiple causal factors through the life course, and that diverse factors may be significant at varying stages within the life course. Alternatively, the criminal propensity perception focuses on the stable individual disparities within a population that enhance the possibilities of offending. The trajectory theory emphasizes that certain pathways influence a person’s probability toward delinquency than others. Possible trajectories that facilitate delinquency constitute psychological, environmental, biological, and sociological determinants. Basically, these three theories are entwined since they acknowledge that criminal behavior is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon triggered by multivariate factors. Depending on the various life stages, individuals may become prone to criminal behaviors (Kreager et al., 2018). For instance, adolescents are likely to engage in delinquency in order to demonstrate rebellion or gain affiliation with peers. However, when they become adults, they tend to desist from offending behaviors. As adults, factors such as residential relocation and accessing better employment increase the probability of desisting offending.

Institutions of Socialization and Influence On Criminology

Social process theories perceive individuals’ interactions with processes and institutions to influence criminal acts. Individuals learn from watching other individuals either receiving punishment or rewards from negative behavior. Various institutions comprising mass media, peers, and workplaces can determine the possibilities of criminality. Diverse institutional pathways contribute to serious crimes. Weak family, in association with other institutions, results in the likelihood of serious crime. In essence, studies demonstrate the significance of cultural issues and criminal behavior in the USA. To illustrate, states situated in the Southern parts of the USA have particularly diverse cultural concerns and race is regarded as one of the central roles. Further, education institutions can foster inequality, prompting the victims to engage in criminal behavior in search of attention. Adolescent peers are likely to influence each other to participate in criminal behavior. Therefore, inequality issues must be addressed, and education centers are encouraged to promote socialization regardless of students’ backgrounds in order to minimize crime incidences. Mass media greatly influences the occurrences of crimes because individuals are highly susceptible to learn behaviors by perceiving the content displayed on media sources. Research asserts that viewers, most especially adolescents and children, are likely to adopt aggressive behaviors from viewing violent content (Onwukwe et al., 2017) Other criminology theories such as social control theory and differential association theory are applicable since they affirm that each individual has the propensity to engage in crime, when predisposing factors are available.




Kreager, D. A., Bouchard, M., De Leon, G., Schaefer, D. R., Soyer, M., Young, J. T., & Zajac G. (2018). A life course and networks approach to prison Therapeutic Communities. In Social Networks and the Life Course (pp. 433-451). Springer, Cham.

Onwukwe, L. C., Njemanze, V. C., Njoku, E., & Obia, W. C. (2017). Effects of Violent Video Games and Violent Movies on Aggressive Behaviour of Children in Imo State, Nigeria. American Journal of Psychology and Cognitive Science, 3(1), 1-7.

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