1. Contributions of the early criminology to today's study of crime and the contemporary public policies related to crime.
Criminology is regarded as a scientific study of crime. In broader terms it can be regarded as the study of law making and making and the reaction to the law making. Early criminology is very significant to the today's study of crime. It provides a rationale that can be used as a basis to effectively understand the modern study of crime and contemporary public policies related to crime. According to Vito, Maahs and Holmes (2006), the early definition of criminology provides a deep understanding to issues related to criminology such as nature, causes and extent of crime. This is mainly important for the today's study of criminology as it equips responsive authorities such as policing, corrections and courts with rich criminal justice skills to deal with modern crimes. For instance, modern criminologists may place efforts towards the study on the consequences and causes of prison crowding. They can also examine today's most efficient policing models (Vito, Maahs and Holmes 2006).
Early criminology illustrated crime mainly on social dimension. Modern study of criminology adds to this by inclusion of moral, social and humanistic dimensions. In today's study of criminology, the legal dimension of crime is characterized by an act that is prohibited by criminal codes. Moral crimes are usually defined by the behavior that provokes the "collective conscience". Crime that is seen to disregard social norms is termed as social. Denial or interference of human rights is regarded to be a humanistic crime. These extensions of the early criminology provide valuable contributions towards the study of modern criminology (Walklate 2005).
Early in the 19th century, a school of thought debated that social events and relations can be studied through science and psychology by using methodologies deduce from natural sciences. The key aim of this school of thought is to seek for, explicate and predict future forms of social behavior. Modern criminologists usually argue that most acts of crime lie largely beyond individual's control. With this, this school of thought devised a different approach, psychological and biological understanding to identify the key causes of crime, whether economic, social, genetic or psychological constructions. Auguste Comte, a French social theorist engineered early social constructions of social crime (social physics) whose primary aim was to exert a positive influence to the society as a way to manage and control social crimes. This led to the development of positivism, an ideology that is regarded as the mother of modern criminology (Walklate 2005).
Criminology positivism has been and is still a very influential tool in defining and determining what the modern criminologists should or should not study. Modern criminology, adopted from Comte's understanding of positivism and its historically influential links with policy making should attempt to create a rationale to manage and control crimes. This rationale modeled criminology on psychological frameworks and brought an understanding that provides a basis to measure and formulates universal explanations of criminal activities. As a result, criminology was established from the evidential bases that influences the policy making processes. From this understanding of criminology, three central elements were designed; differentiation, pathology and determinism (Walklate 2005).
Criminology in the early ages mainly involved the study of social deviations. According to Eamonn (2009), this perspective has a huge influence in today's law making and public policies related to crime. Today's study of crime has integrated this aspect by involving explorations of the basis and implications of crime laws. This has developed a modern school of thought that establishes how these criminal laws emerge, their working and the consequences of those who violates these laws. There are always variations of laws according to place and time, they are also considered to be relative and shaped historically. For example, early criminology in some countries allowed killings of people in the war. This has seen some modifications by the modern criminologists, some regarding it a violation to human rights but others acknowledging it as acceptable to deal with enemies (Eamonn 2009).
Early criminology failed to explore some key issues that continue to shape the modern criminology. Its definition and consideration of criminology was based mostly on sociological approach that provides a limited analysis of criminology. In contrast, the modern criminology provides an extensive coverage that includes a broader perspective to cater for the ever changing crime needs. For example, the modern study of criminology involves the study of bio-medical and psycho-social approaches that provides a closer focus on personal motivations and individuals dispositions in relation to crime. They also provide a greater detail of emotional, cognitive and physical issues relating to modern criminology. Modern study of criminology also concentrates mainly on evidence gathering that aids in the design and evaluation of schemes to change criminal behavior. With this line of thought, criminology has been considered to be more expert based such as the initiation of forensic science. This presents some potholes in the early criminology that was entirely concerned with sociologists that dealt with "general" approach to crime. This bottleneck provided a positive contribution to the today's criminology study that is more grounded in the realities of crime (Eamonn 2009).
2. Major assumptions of social learning theories and major implications of this perspective.
Social learning theories are usually entirely focused on social contexts. The theory argues that individuals learn from each other under social constructions though mechanisms such as observing, modeling and imitation. Albert Bandura, is regarded as the founder of social learning theories. These social theories are usually based on several assumptions that have attracted some major implications. First, the theory asserts that some aggressions should be learned. Second, observation of the desired behavior that is to be emulated and lastly, there is the assumption that symbolic modeling should be boosted by diffusion of ideas, behaviors and values through the use of media (Walklate 2005).
For effective social learning process to occur, the sociologist argues that the three crucial elements must be incorporated in any social learning theory. They include; the need for homophily that asserts that there should be a strong similarity between the observer and the actor, identification that establishes engagement in perspective taking between the actor and the observer and parasocial interaction that refer to the bondage of friendship existing between the observer and the actor. These assumptions have various implications in the discipline of criminology. Social learning theories attempts to link up cognitive and behavioral factors. Such links are shown through merge of observations and imitations, attention in cognitive and social learning. Their arguments are usually based primarily on the role of reinforcements and punishments (Siegel, 2008).
Social learning theories usually assume that people learn from observing and imitating the set models. Thus, experience is considered to matter less in cases where an individual is exposed less to these modeling factors. Total absence of media and these models implies that individuals cannot learn through social learning theories. Social learning theorists concur with this assumption and establish the need of family, mass media and subculture as generators of social learning. This is particularly applicable in cases where objectively quantifiable rewards do not exist. Social learning experts also argue that social learning does not necessarily occur with a change in behavior. This is in contrast with behaviorist theory that insists that learning has to be instigated by a total change in behavior. Social learning theorists support their argument by the fact that through observation alone, their performance is not necessarily shown in their learning (Siegel, 2008).
There are assumptions that relate to the modeling aspect. The theory assumes that the model reinforces the observer. For instance, an adolescent who indulge in drug taking in order to fit in a certain group has a strong probability of being accepted and as a result reinforced by that group. The observer is also assumed to be reinforced by a third person. This can be illustrated by situations where the observer may be modeling someone else's actions such as a powerful drug baron. The friends then acknowledge this and compliment the observer in modeling such behavior resulting to reinforcing that behavior. Sociologists then continue to assume that imitated behaviors results to reinforcing consequences. Most of the behaviors learnt from others produce reinforced or satisfying results. Observer's behavior is vicariously affected by the consequences of the model's behavior. This occurs in cases where the models are strengthened for a response and then there is an increased display shown by the observer in that same response (Siegel, 2008).
Social learning theory of aggression implies the use of reward and punishment as the key drivers of the social learning system. For example, when a duplicated act of violent behavior is repeatedly encountered with some elements of reinforcement such as social approvals and disapprovals, then the observer is forced through social learning to continue or deter his or her violent activities. For example, an individual that is exposed to drug trafficking and usage through friends, family or neighbors is likely to employ the same act if the drug trafficking behavior is considered to be acceptable and correct. The individual may also be motivated to the act by the notion that those involved in drug trafficking easily escapes with the crime and continue to enjoy the splurge associated with drug trafficking (Siegel, 2008).
Social learning theory suggests that there are indirect effects on learning caused by both reinforcements and punishments. Reinforcements (rewards) and punishments also shape the degree to which an individual demonstrates a behavior that has been learned. Social learning requires a strong attention that is usually regulated by the expectation of the rewards or reinforcements. For example in a class setup, the teacher may tell the students that what they are studying will not be tested, the most probable thing is that the students will pay less attention to what the teacher is teaching (Siegel, 2008).
Lee and Carrabine Eamonn. Criminology: A Sociological Introduction, UK: Taylor & Francis, 2009.
Siegel, Larry. Criminology, UK: Cengage Learning, 2008.
Vito, Maahs and Holmes Ronald. Criminology: theory, research, and policy, London: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2006.
Walklate, Sandra. Criminology: the basics, UK: Taylor & Francis, 2005.