Essay On Rational Choice Theory

1321 words - 6 pages

Rational Choice and Routine Activity Theory Ryan Walker SOCI 7511: Theories of Deviance University of Memphis Fall October 23, 2017, Rational Choice Theory and Routine Activity Theory are two of several different theories used in criminology. These two theories can help a person examine why a person would commit a crime in the first place. In this paper, I will explain that these two theories are as well as compare and contrast the two theories.

Routine Activity Theory was developed by Marcus Felson and Lawrence E. Cohen. Routine activity theory helps identify criminal activity and behavior through explanation in crime rate. (Cohen & Felson, 1979). Cohen and Felson said that the number of possible offenders or offender motivation does not actually affect the crime rate. Routine activity theory has three stipulations that make it up; a likely offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a guardian. A person with any sort if predisposition to commit a crime would be considered a likely offender. A suitable target would be a person, object, or place. Policemen, parents, family, friends, security guards, etc. , would be considered a capable guardian (Felson & Steadman, 1983). Cohen and Felson (1979) argued that criminal activity is influenced by the same structure of routine activities and thus affects tendencies in direct contact predatory violations. Routine activity theory implies that underlying changes in routine activity patterns can influence crime rates by affecting the merging in time and space of the three principles that I listed above. Offenders are looking to see if their targets are alert, alone, and the time of day. People who follow this theory believe that crime is inescapable, and that if a target is appealing enough, crime will happen. Certain proceedings must be put in to action in order to stop crime from happening. VIVA is an acronym that Felson and Clarke (1998) constructed to help explain the four elements that influence a targets risk for being attacked by crime. The four elements are as follows: value, inertia, and access. Value is what the target is what worth to the person committing the crime. Inertia is the capability of a target to be taken by an offender. Visibility relates to how easy the targets are seen to offenders. Access refers to how easily a target can be obtained by an offender. All three of these elements are vital to routine activity theory and can cause an uptick in crime without any change in the criminal population.

Rational Choice Theory takes in to account when a person thinks through the actual crime they are committing to decide whether or not said crime in worth it. Usually the goals of the crime being committed somehow benefits the offender is some way whether it be financially, emotionally, etc. Cornish and Clark (1985) state that rational choice theory is based on three assumptions; "criminal offenders are rational and make choices and decisions that benefit themselves; a crime- speci...

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