Word Count 1971/3500 or 3850
NS5501 – Structural vs Psychological: An analysis of homicide through Strain Theory and Social Learning Theory
Homicide is the most serious form of violent crime, there were 571 homicides (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) recorded in England and Wales (Office for national statistics, 2016), this accounts for less than 2% of crimes committed in England and Wales (Gurian, 2013, volume 18). Despite the low number of crimes committed which fall under homicide, it remains one of the most intense and interesting area of study for criminologists and sociologists. Homicide is the subject of constant press, with thousands of books, films and shows being made about it every year. This essay will explore and analyse homicide from both a structural sociological view (strain theory) and through social learning theory whilst also looking at both their similarities and contrasting views.
When asked to describe homicide, the majority of people use words such as ‘deliberate’, ‘unlawful’ and ‘unjust’ which is not incorrect as homicide is the killing of another human being. However, it is interesting people do not often consider the social construction behind the term, as with all crimes the concept is socially constructed. As stated by Brookman (2005),” homicide is not an absolute term” as the definition and morals of the concept have changed drastically over the years and across countries and to this day, countries still have various contrasting views and legal codes towards homicide. As well as, this there are other forms of homicide people which people may not instantly consider such as a large cooperate company not abiding by health and safety regulations resulting in the death of 100’s of workers or environmental crimes which cause death by companies dumping hazardous and toxic waste (Brookman, 2005, p.4). Society thinks we understand the term homicide, however when looking deeper in to it, the lines become very blurred, there is a general consensus within society that the killing of another being is wrong and unlawful and should result in punishment and justice. For example, in 1991 the police found Jeffery Dahmer was involved in the death of seventeen young boys and young men, the police found a vast amount of human remains in his apartment which not only indicated is guilt in murder but also showed he had committed acts of cannibalism and necrophilia. (Jenkins, 1994, p.1). Although, there would be a general consensus of what Dahmer did was unacceptable and wrong, there would not be a general consensus on why the incident may have occurred. As based on the ideology of the perspective, the story can change drastically
for example, one scholar may focus on factors throughout his life that developed his personality and how this had a psychological affect and others will breakdown the social aspect of his life such as poverty as to look for an explanation of his actions. (Jenkins, 1995, p.2).
The circumstances of which...