Theory of Appropriation and Rational Choice

The case presents a situation involving a adolescent boy with less than humble beginnings. The boy engages in pilferage where he surreptitiously takes a bottle of orange juice and conceals it under his coat with the assumption that no one is watching. Incidentally, the clerk is keen to notice the exploit and catches the boy. The clerk decides to pursue the issue and move forth with an official report to the police. The scenario presents an ideal case of a subject that may be approached and interpreted from different social angles.

To fully comprehend the situation, it is quite imperative to explore the problem from broad sociological perspective. For this reason, this paper will apply different theories in an attempt to illuminate and offer various views regarding the criminal activities of the boy. These categories of theories will include but will not be limited to Biosocial Theory, Learning Theory, as well as Control and Strain Theories.

Biosocial Theories involve an interdisciplinary field which purposes to explicate crime as well as antisocial behavior by way of exploring the environmental aspects and biological aspects.

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The biosocial theories also try to link the genetic aspect of an individual to criminal behavior (Beaver & Walsh, 2011). This theory focuses on the causes of violence and crimes among individuals. Lombroso talks of the relationship between crime and biology. Criminals tend to have particular traits that differ from a normal individual. The physical traits may comprise of extended jaws, abnormal amounts of body hair, long arms, and sharp teeth.

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Most criminals possess atavists’ traits that derive from earlier forms of human evolution. The atavists’ influence individuals to participate in crimes. Crime exists as an instinct for the individuals. Since criminals are considered a product of distinctive biological forces, it’s often assumed that it’s far easier for them to undertake criminal activities (Petitclerc, Gatti, Vitaro, & Tremblay, 2013). They are not coerced to participate in any given criminal activity. This means that free will allow and ensure that they actively participate in violence and crime without the fear of the involved repercussions.

Neuroscience Perspective Theory in the category of the biosocial theories would fit in the scenario provided. According to the neuroscience perspective, regardless of its origin, all stimuli are directed through the brain prior to a given expression in behavior. The development of the brain is, in a significant way, influenced by the experiences in the early environmental stages, and mainly those encompassing nurturance as well as an attachment. The criminal behavior of the boy may then be attributed by the early upbringing; thus, reinforcing his propensity to steal. The Supreme Court of United States applied scientific studies of the teenage brain in giving a conclusion that teenagers, as a result of their intrinsic psychological as well as their neurobiological immaturity, cannot be responsible for their conduct as adults (Steinberg, 2013). This means that the criminal behavior of the boy can be attributed to the early experiences as well as neurobiological immaturity.

Learning Theories are a category of conceptual frameworks which tend to explain how students or acquire, process, and preserve the knowledge they absorb in the course of learning. Emotional, cognitive as well as environmental influences, and also previous experience, all contribute to how comprehending, or a general perception, is assimilated or altered and knowledge and skills reserved (Akers, 2002). Some of the theories in this category include constructivist as well as behaviorist theory. For the analysis of the scenario, the behaviorist theory would be the most ideal to explore the issue. The general assumption is that the conditions surrounding an individual play a significant role in determining the probability of them engaging in a particular behavior.

Behaviorism is a worldview which functions on a concept of ‘stimulus-response’ or behavior which are triggered by external stimuli or operant conditioning. It gives emphasis on objectively observable behaviors and does not give consideration to any autonomous mind activity. In other words, all behavior can be expounded devoid of the need to consider the internal state of the mind or consciousness (Morris & Braukmann, 2012). Both negative, as well as positive reinforcement, raise the likelihood that the antecedent behavior will occur for another time. On the other hand, punishment (both negative and positive) tend to reduce the possibility that the antecedent behavior will occur for another time. Positive indicates the application of a stimulus. Drawing from the theory, it may be assumed that the boy may have acquired the behavior of pilferage from his immediate environment. Here, we have an individual who is not only a child, resulting in the assumed increase in the likelihood that his decision making skills are underdeveloped, but he is a poor child. The orange juice itself becomes irrelevant; it’s just one of a laundry list of items the child cannot obtain. Additionally, due to his age, the feelings of “want” and “need” are spliced and reformatted as a singular sentiment. The situation in which the orange juice was kept was a reinforcement that increased his likelihood of engaging in the criminal behavior. Chances are that a young person living in an environment characterized by poverty might learn criminal behaviors exhibited by others as they try to make ends meet, for instance, through stealing.

Life Course Theories of antisocial behavior present a combined as well as wide-ranging approach for comprehending different paths and consequences of criminal offending. The course theories explore the development, continuousness, and constancy of criminal behavior across the life of an individual. The influence of personal as well as environmental aspects on the persistence or even the avoidance of criminal wrong is also incorporated into these theories. The Dual‐Pathway, Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential, Interactional, as well as the Age‐Graded theories seek to explain the antisocial behavior and the trajectory of criminal offending.

The Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential is an ideal theory that would explain the scenario given in the case. This theory presents the risk as well as protective factors which have a bearing on the progress of long-term antisocial potential (fluctuating between persons) and also the situational aspects which tend to influence short-term antisocial potential. In addition, it points out the cognitive processes which determine whether the antisocial potential turn out to be the reality of offending in any circumstance and the outcomes of offending which have response influences in relation to antisocial potential (Farrington, 2014). Drawing from this theory, it can then be assumed that the poor background the boy comes from is a situational risk that can entail either short-term or long-term antisocial potential. Integrated short-term risk factors, for instance, lack of tangible upbringing, poverty, the existence of co-offenders or other factors such as the influence of alcohol or harmful substances, might diminish constraints and raise the probability of offending.

These existing situational aspects reduce the particular consequences of offending. According to the theory, only those people with a tendency towards antisocial or criminal conduct will be enticed by these elements to carry out an offense. The manner in which the boy hid the bottle of orange juice in his coat, oblivious that he was spotted, is a function of learned behavior. In addition, the exposure to poverty meant that the boy did not have the opportunity to have an abundant supply of some items such as the juice; thus, taking advantage of the situation to steal.

The applications of Control Theories refer to internal and external controls that limit individuals from deviating. The classification of the theories may have the classification of decentralized and centralized status. Decentralization control may refer to the control of the society. Centralization control may focus a bureaucratic control. The environment of the boy is bureaucratic in nature when it comes to the operations of the law enforcement (Kearney, Harris, Jácome, & Parker, 2014). This means if the boy has stolen during the time he was caught, he has been doing so in the previous periods. This means that the bureaucratic nature of the social influences him to continue participating in crime for survival. However, if the society was decentralized, the boy would not steal anything due to the help he would receive from other members and the government at large. The law would also be strong in such a way that it would curb anyone from committing a crime. The boy also has weak ties with the society, a factor that motivates his current status.

Another theory that is applicable to the scenario is the Rational Choice Theory. To understand the nature and development of crime, the rational choice theory is applied as it assumes a utilitarian belief which says that man is a rational actor who gives into consideration means and ends, costs as well as benefits, and comes up with a reasonable choice (Hirschi, 2017). The underlying assumption is that crime is purposive or a deliberate behavior which is intended to respond to the offender’s ordinary needs which include money, sex or even excitement among others. To meet these needs, it might encompass making of (in some occasions rather elementary) decisions as well as choices, inhibited as these are by restrictions, capacity, as well as the availability of appropriate information.

Rational choice is founded upon various assumptions relating to behavior and actions of people, one of which is individualism. The person committing the offense perceives themselves as an individual. The second assumption is that individuals have to make the most of their goals, and the third assumption is that individuals are self-centered. Offenders or delinquents are concerned about their needs as well as how to advance their individual objectives. Rational choice theory suggests that persons who commit crimes are reasonable in the choices they make, and in spite of the outcomes, that the benefits or the gains of carrying out the crime are greater than the punishment. Drawing from this particular theory, it may be correct to say that the boy was aware of the consequences of stealing by trying to hide his actions. However, in spite of being aware of the consequences, the boy went ahead with stealing the orange juice. The consequences of his choices were rapid enough that the boy was unable to achieve his original directive; thus, the clerk ultimately decided his fate when he chose to involve law enforcement.

In conclusion, the theories provide different frameworks for approaching social issues such as addressing the problem of criminal behavior. Distinctive theories can appropriate and explain diverse situations for instance; life course theories can trace the behavior of a person through assorted stages of their life while the rational choice theory is anchored on the assumption that people are reasonable enough to make self-determining decisions and are fully aware of the consequences.

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Theory of Appropriation and Rational Choice. (2022, Apr 17). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/theory-of-appropriation-and-rational-choice-essay

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