Social process theory criminology is a field of study that focuses on understanding the social and environmental factors that contribute to criminal behavior. This theory suggests that criminal behavior is not solely a result of individual characteristics, but rather the result of social interactions and environmental factors.

What is Social Process Theory Criminology?

Social process theory criminology is a school of thought that emerged in the mid-twentieth century as a response to traditional theories of crime and deviance. Traditional theories, such as biological and psychological theories, focused on individual characteristics as the primary determinants of criminal behavior. In contrast, social process theory looks at how social and environmental factors shape an individual’s behavior.

The Basic Premise

The basic premise behind social process theory is that criminal behavior is learned through interaction with others. This learning takes place within various social contexts, such as family, peers, school, and the broader community. The theory suggests that individuals who are exposed to pro-criminal values, attitudes, and behaviors are more likely to engage in criminal activity themselves.

The Key Concepts

The key concepts of social process theory include:

Social Learning

Social learning refers to the way individuals learn from others through observation, imitation, and modeling. According to social process theory criminology, criminal behavior is not an innate characteristic of individuals but rather something that is learned through interaction with others who engage in criminal behavior.

Differential Association

Differential association refers to the idea that individuals who associate with pro-criminal peers are more likely to become involved in criminal activity themselves. This concept suggests that peer groups can have a significant influence on an individual’s behavior, particularly during adolescence.

Social Control

Social control refers to the ways in which social institutions such as family, schools, and communities can exert control over an individual’s behavior by promoting prosocial values. Social control theory suggests that individuals who are well integrated into their social environment are less likely to engage in criminal behavior.

Labeling

Labeling theory suggests that individuals who are labeled as “deviant” by society may come to internalize this label and engage in further deviant behavior. This concept implies that the way society reacts to deviant behavior can actually contribute to the perpetuation of criminal activity.

Conclusion

Social process theory criminology provides a unique perspective on understanding criminal behavior. By focusing on social interactions and environmental factors, this theory offers insight into why some individuals may be more likely to engage in criminal activity than others. By addressing the underlying social and environmental factors that contribute to crime, it may be possible to develop more effective strategies for preventing crime and promoting public safety.