Mar 28, 2019 in Research

Criminology Research


The problem of criminal behavior has been long disputed by practicing and academic communities. The first observations of this phenomenon have been identified in the works of Ancient Roman lawyers and physicians. One of the most contributing researches on the discussed subject was done by Gaius (160 BC), who is known to be among the most internationally acknowledged luminaries of Ancient Roman criminal and procedural law, and Galen, a follower of classical ancient  medicine (Harries, 1999). Among other discoveries, it was found out that the roots of predisposition to perpetrate actions persecuted criminally had to be sought in the environmental and biological paradigms of a human being.

Nowadays, the contemporary academic community is seen to be split into the two antagonizing camps. The first group of scholars is firmly convinced that the reasons why a human being commits criminal acts are generated by the environment of social professional and personal nature. Their opponents fervently advocate the idea that the reason must be in the biological and psychological peculiarities of a particular delinquent. However, the third school, known as a biosocial approach to the interpretation of criminology, states that the origins of the problem may be identified if the combined approach is followed. The methodological toolkit of this school claims that tentative experimental studies must be corroborated by the existing analytical studies completed by the representatives of both camps.

The objective of this paper is to outline existing scholarly findings on the subject, speculate about their deficiencies and imperfections from academic and practical viewpoint and propose a new study with the relevant hypotheses and research questions formulated in order to reconcile the existing diametrically opposite academic standpoints.

Literature Review

The School of Differential Association

The major postulate of this school of criminology is explicitness. In particular, the works of leading scholars are focused on the rationale that the main incentives that impel the members of a community to become delinquents are social, professional, and private environments (Walsh & Beaver, 2008). The unanimous opinion in this regard is that a human being cannot turn into a criminal if the specific circumstances of social, professional, and private origin are not observed (Beaver, 2009). Moreover, it is assumed that if an extant individual is isolated from the circumstances that condition his/her previous criminal record, he/she likely to become a person with no identified social deviations, including criminal behavior (Walsh & Ellis, 2003).  

Furthermore, the academics advocating this approach have reached that convergent opinion that the most contributing impact was made by the social environment (Beaver & Walsh, 2011). Professional and private determinants are regarded as functioning supplements and cannot be considered as those that can convert a normal citizen into a criminal. The major deficiency that has numerous concerns related to the academic credibility and legitimacy of this approach is the lack of empirical data on the subject. Especially, the findings of the school are mostly based on assumptions, whereas no experimental proof has been provided thereupon.

The Biological Theory of Crime

Those who adhere to the biological explanation of criminal behavior are firmly convinced that the reasons of criminal behavior are of a psychological nature (Deflem, 2006). In particular, recent studies in the field of genetic engineering have suggested that specific genes were hereditary and could contribute to the formation of particular criminal disposition of an individual (Siegel, 2003). Moreover, it has become practically possible to calculate the so-called heritability coefficient utilized to identify a human being who is the most prone to commit criminally classified violent actions.

A large group of academics is closely associated with the development of neuropsychological interpretation of criminal behavior, which suggests that specifically developed neurotransmitters generate the criminal inclinations of a potential delinquent (Buss, 2011). This theoretical approach has been strongly supported by a number of conduct and empirical studies on the subject.

As for the limitations of these approaches, it is necessary to highlight the fact that this school actively disregards sound academic findings of their differential association opponents. This negation is universally considered as academically baseless.

Research Hypotheses and Questions

Having analyzed the existing theoretical framework of the discussed problem, the positions of the biosocial school seem to be the most correct since they integrally incorporate the strong points of both academic conglomerations while effectively dealing with their standpoints of disputed academic credibility.

For the needs of their prospective paper, the following hypothesis seems to be the most relevant one. It can be formulated as follows: neither the school of differential association, nor the biological theory of crime is completely valid, and the postulates of the biosocial approach explain phenomena the most explicitly, clearly, and accurately. In order to turn the theory into practice, the provisions of this study must be followed.

Based on these research hypotheses, the following research questions were formulated:

1. What are the strongest points of the differential association approach? 

2. What are the weakest points of the differential association approach?

3. What are the strongest points of the biological approach? 

4. What are the weakest points of the biological approach?

5. How can the strongest and weakest points of both schools be integrally combined?

6. Is this combination consistent with the major postulates of the biosocial approach of criminology interpretation?

Provided that all the research questions have been duly explored, and legitimate academic answers have been gained, the outcomes of this study can be of immense theoretical importance and practical relevance in the campaign permanently waged against organized and situational crime.

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