The Relationship between Sociology and Criminology

Conflict Theory-The Relationship between Sociology and Criminology


Theorists, on, social conflict propose that crime, in general, is triggered by conflict in the class system, as well as, laws that have been shaped by individuals and groups in power to safeguard their interests and rights. All acts of crime have political nuances, and Quinney refers to this as crime’s social reality. Research attempts to confirm the conflict method; on the contrary, have not generated significant results (Seigel, 2000). Moreover, sociologists ponder over the social patterns that exist among social classes and the complications that arise from conflict between such social classes. They try to establish the relationship between deviant behavior and social class. These are some of the considerations and ponderings of sociologists when examining the Social conflict theory. The theory explores issues to do with inequality on societal settings. The theory states that the laws and norms adopted by society only reflect the interest of the more influential and powerful society members.


The following situation comes to mind when reflecting over the theory: a chief executive of a corporate company commits the same crime as a junior worker (Social Conflict Theory and Crime: Definitions and Approach to Deviance – Video & Lesson Transcript – If, hypothetically, we say that they were caught in a drug peddling offence, it is apparent that the person to receive more severe punishment is the junior worker. There is a good chance that the CEO will get off in a hush because he has the resources. They might even get off the hook in ”mystery”. On the other hand, the junior worker is likely to experience the full wrath of the law. His act of criminal deviance is also likely to receive a lot of publicity. Since social conflict theory is focused on inequality issues, a significant element in this narrative is that the punishment meted out in this case is disproportionate, despite the similarity of the crime committed. In a similar scenario, figure out a situation in which such a factory worker is involved in a vandalism incident on a local business. On the other hand, the CEO is involved in a fraudulent act in an attempt to protect his wealth and avoid parting with a portion of it. The factory junior worker is regarded to have committed a typical blue collar crime. If they are caught, they would be arrested and fined. They might even spend months in prison. The CEO, on the other hand, is regarded to have committed a white collar crime. His punishment is likely to be much less severe in the unlikely event that anyone will call him to account. According to a government report in 2009, it was found that those who were found to be culpable in fraud only ended up paying 10% of the assets they owed because they succeeded to hide most of them.

How Politics Interplay in The Conflict Theory.


Intra state armed conflict is said to have increased since the onset of WWII. It increased further when the cold war ended even as many expected a peace bonus. The localized wars were initiated by armed groups that are organized by people who held grievances against their own governments or against other organized armed groups within the same states with guerilla war tactics. They employed such methods as taking hostages, bombings and vanquishing populations from their settlements. In these scenarios, the common laws of war as emphasized in international war are blurred and ignored. Displaced persons and casualties are alarmingly many. Usually, the combatants demand compliance of expulsion from territory. They are rarely interested in the territory itself. Such conflict manifests a broad and deep level of violence. They are also varied in nature. Private monitoring organizations and those affiliated with government strategies such as the International Crisis Group. They monitor and update on such conflicts regularly (Leicht and Jenkins, 2010).


There are several compilations and cross examinations on civil wars that occurred in the recent past. There have also been several detailed monographs, testing ethnic conflict theories on specific countries. Owing to the fact that states are the protagonists in world wars, when loyalties of sub state entities and armed groupings undermine the legitimate rule of the governments and cause instability with insurgencies that spill to the neighboring stronger countries, the international conflict control and management within the state is highly vulnerable. New conflicts gain by incorporating the micro-level mobilizing and confronting dynamics of movements of social nature. Such social movements in turn benefit its single dimensional view of regime control of social base with insights about New War directed at actors in the regime institutions and the strategic plans.


The two theories would gain from paying higher attention to the dynamics of conflict as opposed to causes that trigger conflict. This means attention should be paid to how issues of contention and political differences and arguments are slated to either contain the wars or escalate them. It is the leaders in political realms that make these choices.

Politics Influence Crime Rates among the Lower Class people.


It has long been acknowledged that social inequalities case conflict in society. Such great thinkers and writers as Edwin Sutherland postulated that crime is lower in egalitarian and consensual communities compared to societies that manifest inequitable wealth ownership with various antagonistic beliefs. It is likely that inequitable societies sow a high crime rate because those in disadvantaged segments manifest a high tendency in crime involvement. Crime in the U.S. is largely associated with inner city areas in urban locations with disadvantaged groups (Matsueda and Grigoryeva).


The way social inequality, class interest and its definition relate is in sharp contrast when corporate crime comes into perspective. The term ” white collar crime ” was coined by Edwin Sutherland to refer to crimes committed by persons in high places in society. It was meant to highlight mala prohibit crimes that are widely ignored by the investigative authorities and society in general. Sutherland demonstrated that the crimes by the upper class are not any different from those committed by those of the lower class. The only difference is the way they are handled.

Sociological Schools of Crime Causation


Over the second half of the 18th C, the school of criminology also referred to as the classical theory or the Free Will Approach surfaced in England and Italy in works produced by Jeremy Bentham and Cessare Beccaria. The approach was anchored on the belief that human beings exercise their free will and that the behavior they manifest comes from their rational calculation of the reward versus costs on the basis of the pleasure they might derive or pain thereof. This theory, also known as the Rational Choice Theory, is based on the idea that humans commit crimes that they have rationally weighed in terms of the pain and gain (Theories of Causation). For instance, a burglar or potential one might strike a shopping mall if they note that over several nights, lights are missing at crucial points in a shopping mall and that there are no police to detect such invasion because they see the shopping mall as a low risk venture. Another theory, the Positivist theory emerged in the latter part of the 19th C. Lombroso Cesare is credited with the formulation of the theory and is widely regarded as the father of modern criminology. Along with other criminology experts as Raffaele Gerafolo and another names Enrico Ferri held the view that there is need to study criminals from a scientific perspective. They stressed determinism to be the basis and philosophy behind crime as opposed to Free Will. Numerous Positivists held the view that crime had a genetic element. However, there were those that held the view that the environment played a role in determining whether one would become a criminal or not.

Criminology Theory Looks at Homicide


There was revamped interest in violence as a subculture when two researchers named Ferracuti and Wolfgang conducted a joint research in Puerto Rico. The theory tries to point out the origin of violence. It is a close and thorough cross examination of the Theoretical Approach; which was first pointed out by Wolfgang’s mentor Thosten Sellin in his publication titled Culture Conflict and Crime (1938). Ferracuti and Wolfgang’s Theory is derived from sociological considerations and a level of psychological perspectives (Silverman, 2004). The subculture of violence involves a group that is part of a wider society but holds some values that deviate from the rest of society’s dominant culture. The acceptance of the subculture is a process that involves people gradually embracing violence as a reasonable option for solving problems that they face. The researchers show that children that have close relations with violent groups increasingly accept violence as part of the problem solving strategies by constant exposure and indoctrination. Children often hold leaders of the violent groups they know about in high esteem and idolize them. Such children often end up joining the violent groups. Homicide is the consequence of these trends. Thus, the subculture theories remain relevant.

The Reduction and Control of Homicide Incidents in the U.S.


A good percentage of the crimes committed in the U.S. are carried out by people who are close to the victims. Figures show that one out of three crimes is committed by intimate partners and is what has come to be commonly referred to as IPHs. Such crimes cannot be traced using Death Certificates since they do not show relationship to the offender. It has also been observed that to overall figures for homicide have largely risen and fallen over the periods spanning 1981 to 1998; intimate partner homicide reduced over the same period. The decline in IPH has been associated with the introduction of programs that focus on reducing the same. The causal link is still an unresolved puzzle. It is still unknown why there seems to be a greater decrease of the crime among males as compared to females. The different IPH rates by race focus show that social, economic and cultural factors play a role. When comparing the trends by community, there are signs that regional socio-cultural contrasts come into play. Since homicide is determined by the multiplication effect, deterrence and prevention efforts based on a single factor stand little chance to succeed (Lester and Leenaars, 2001). Gun control is currently a consideration in the prevention of homicide. A detailed report was provided by Canada’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1977 (Bill C-51). It suggested that such an approach may have a preventive effect and lower rates of homicide for, at least, the older population.


Factors to Focus on Experts in criminology regard the family as an important launching point for a child’s criminal involvement. There has been a lot of research directed at the family relationships that might result in a child’s involvement in crime. Some of the factors that were brought into perspective include the role that maternal deprivation plays, the involvement of parents in crime, how severe the discipline meted on a child is, neglect, inappropriate or inadequate supervision, education level of parents among others (Loeber and Loeber-Stouthammer, 1986). Factors such as poor parental supervision are known to be a causal factor for a child’s possible involvement in criminal activity in future or simply pose a greater risk for such occurrence (Petrosino, et. al, 2009).


On the other hand, when a child is brought up in an environment of adequate supervision and protection, experts refer to this as protective factors. A child is likely to be resilient in avoiding crime even in difficult circumstances (Derzon, 2005). The interaction of the factors may go beyond the scope of researchers to sass out (e.g., Derzon, 2005). There are many longitudinal and predictor Meta-analysis studies that help to understand the role of family in the occurrence of criminal conduct. Several Meta analyses have pointed out the effectiveness of interventions by family is reducing crime and delinquent behavior.



Derzon. (2005). Family features and problem, aggressive, criminal, or violent behavior: A meta-analytic inquiry.


Leicht, & Jenkins. (2010). Handbook of Politics: State and Society in Global Perspective. Retrieved from


Lester, D. & Leenaars, A. (2001). The impact of gun control (Bill C-51) on homicide in Canada. Journal of Criminal Justice, 29(4), 287-294. Retrieved, from


Loeber, & Stouthammer-Loeber. (1986). Family factors as correlates and predictors of juvenile conduct problems and delinquency. In M. Tonry and N. Morris (Eds.). Crime and Justice, 7.


Matsueda, & Grigoryeva. (n.d.). UW Faculty Web Server. Social Inequality, Crime, and Deviance. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from


Petrosino, Derzon, & Lavenberg. (2009). The Role of the Family in Crime and Delinquency: Evidence from Prior Quantitative Reviews. The Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, 6(2). Retrieved, from


(n.d.). Sage Pub. Theories of Causation. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from


Seigel, L. (2000). National Criminal Justice Reference Service. NCJRS Abstract – National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from




(n.d.). – Take Online Courses. Earn College Credit. Research Schools, Degrees & Careers. Social Conflict Theory and Crime: Definitions and Approach to Deviance – Video & Lesson Transcript – Retrieved August 10, 2016, from

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