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Serial killers and the social control theory

By Elizabeth Hall In our modern society, advances in technology and science have propelled the study of crime into new frontiers.

While the actual study of serial killers and the social control theory dates back to earlier decades, these advances have put crime data and the study of it into the forefront of our society. Criminologists devote their life to assessing, comprehending, restraining, and helping lawmakers to prevent criminal and deviant acts.

Not all criminal acts are deviant, and likewise all deviant acts are not criminal. Serial killers with the nature of their crimes cross both categories due to the violence associated with the crimes, the recidivism of the crimes, and the deviant nature of most serial killers even though the particular deviance varies per killer.

These can include but are not limited to cannibalism, dismemberment, necrophilia, and sadism. With each new advance in technology, the methods of testing these theories become more exact. These consist of the social structure, social class, social process, neutralization, social control, and labeling theories Siegel, 2007.

Social Structure Theory Social Structure Theory reasons that the socioeconomic forces drive those in underprivileged financial situations to commit crime, and that this is the reason for crime. This group of theories consists of three theories: Social Disorganization Theory- primary focus of this theory is environmental conditions.

High unemployment and school dropout rates are symptoms of this problem in a neighborhood. Ramirez after Capture Image from Tru TV Strain Theory suggests that discord in the goals a person has and what actual resources one has to attain that goal is the main reason for crime Siegel, 2007. Richard Ramirez fits into this theory because he started his killing over disappointment that a woman did not have anything of value to steal which was how he supported himself.

His first murder was just a burglary gone awry. He then went on to the following year to become a serial killer claiming 12 more lives in the span of one year. Cultural Deviance Theory due to burden and societal separation people in lower class areas develop their own subcultures, which do not conform to societal rules.

Serial killers and the social control theory

For example, dad is a drunk, and hangs out with other lower class drunks who think that it is perfectly normal to beat their wives. By association, they can reassure themselves that their criminal behavior is normal.

Although Strain Theory might work in relation to some serial killers, overall, it does not seem that social structure theories work well in relation to serial killers Siegel, 2007. Social Class Anomie Theory Anomie Theory group contends that societal inequity causes awareness, serial killers and the social control theory in turn causes crime.

The lower class worker feels strain because they cannot afford the things they need. They then turn to dealing drugs to attain the means to achieve societal equity. Institutional Anomie Theory states that because of our incessant need to keep up the status quo the United States is full of anomie. Relative Deprivation Theory says harsh divisions between the upper and lower classes cause feelings of jealousy and suspicion, which gives the criminal notions of disgrace by the upper class, thereby causing the criminal to have desires to disgrace them in return.

General Strain Theory maintains that it is not one type of strain but individuals reacting to several individualized strains at once are more likely to commit crime. John Wayne Gacy seems to be a perfect example of this. John grew up in a strict Irish catholic family.

He had a bad relationship with his abusive father, whom he wanted to gain approval from desperately. When he was only eleven, John injured on the head by a swing, received a blood clot in his brain. This clot caused him severe blackouts and headaches, which went undiagnosed until he reached the age of 16.

Even though doctors remove the blood clot, health problems continued for him, in less than a year John receives the diagnosis of an unspecified heart condition. John was also a homosexual, which could not be revealed because of what his father, might think.

Social Process Theory Social Process Theory claims that all people have the ability to be criminals regardless of class, ethnicity, or gender.

  1. In high school, Ted "...
  2. With each new advance in technology, the methods of testing these theories become more exact. While some may blame psychological, environmental, or social factors, others feel that it is simply an option of self-control.
  3. The first theory, Social Learning, has to do with Bundy's addiction to pornography and social inadequacies towards women. But the motivations behind the attacks are not as easy.
  4. According to Frank Schmalleger, writer of Criminology Today, this idea is founded on how, "people learn to commit crime from others, and such learning includes the acquisition of norms, values, and patterns of behaviors conducive to crime.

The theory claims that if the societal bonds that a person holds are constructive, then the person will be law abiding if these bonds are counter constructive, the person will not be. The theories in this group are as follows: Social Learning Theory claims that criminals learn from other criminals, and that crime in itself is learned behavior instead of ingrained. This theory applies well to team serial killers because of the propensity for them to learn techniques from each other.

Neutralization falls under social process group as well. This theory states that, criminals do not act like criminals all of the time.

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When they are not committing crime they attend picnics social gatherings, and regular community functions. When they are at these gatherings, however, it is common to find that the attendees are also comprised of criminal and deviant members.

Siegel, 2007 Social Control Theory Social control theory maintains that every person is born capable of committing crime and that the society we live in today lends itself more to crime than ever. Just about everywhere, you look; the opportunity to commit crime exists. People who obey the law do so either out of personal belief in religion or morals, or due to a need to conform in order to keep their standing in society and their reputation in check. When these bonds are not present, a person feels free to break the law.

Siegel, 2007 Ted Bundy as a good example of social control theory and serial killers, because of the fact that he resented finding out that who he thought was his older sister was actually his mother.

He had negative attachment to family because of this scenario, and became one of the United States most notorious serial killers we have ever seen. Labeling Theory Labeling Theory This theory looks at the careers of criminals as being a product of disparaging societal relations and disgracing social encounters and the subjective nature of the law. The key tenets of the theory are as follows: Those who currently are making the laws bias the criminal natures of certain behaviors.

This means that what is considered to be a crime is only such because people label the behavior as a crime. People are labeled as well as acts. Whether the behavior is positive or negative, prejudiced explanation of behavior is required. The theory also works off the assumption that once one is labeled, as for example, a pothead, meaning a person who smokes marijuana, the rest of their life will follow suit as a pothead with all of the social stigmatization that follows that association.

Almost all serial killers have some deviant desires with maybe the exception of German serial killers who kill more for money and items rather than sexual gratification, or serial killers and the social control theory. According to the theory once, you are labeled, you are always considered to be labeled as such.

Siegel, 2007 Works Cited Bell, R. Retrieved March 04, 2010, from John Wayne Gacy: Executed May 10, 1994 at 12: America's War on Marijuana. Retrieved February 23, 2010, from Dr. Retrieved February 08, 2010, from http: Kaine, Commonwealth of Virginia. Retrieved February 11, 2010 Pumroy, D.

  1. This was the same woman that identified Bundy's car for the police and also picked him out of a line-up prior to his conviction. This serial killer has around 30 confirmed victims, and possibly over 100 total victims.
  2. Many of these characteristics fit into a theoretic model of crime.
  3. Almost one month after his first attack, he struck again by abducting another young female student, but this time from her home.
  4. His stay here, however, would not last. Although Strain Theory might work in relation to some serial killers, overall, it does not seem that social structure theories work well in relation to serial killers Siegel, 2007.
  5. She later was forced to put her child up for adoption.

What Caused the Tragedy at Virginia Tech? Behavior Analysis Digest International19 2pp. Inside America's Pot Industry. Retrieved February 23, 2010, from Marijuana Incorporated: Inside America's Pot Industry: The Core Third ed.

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