Conflict theory has developed throughout the course of the twentieth century as a principle theory for better understanding the development of criminal behavior. Although conflict theory directly links criminal behavior to the development of larger social inequities, research on this paradigm clearly demonstrates that this theory has only been widely examined in the context of the philosophical understanding of social discourse. Through a careful consideration of the definition of conflict theory, its benefits and drawbacks and its application to the larger framework of understanding criminal behavior, this investigation clearly demonstrates that conflict theory is difficult, if not impossible, to institute in the context of practical application in the criminal justice system.
[...] Henry and Lanier (1998) in their examination of how conflict theory is applied to the larger context of understanding the development of criminal behavior argue that under the conflict model, “most crime is seen as the result of large forces (e.g., economic) and not individual pathologies” (p. 238). As such, when criminal behavior manifests it is the direct result of social forces that are typically beyond the control of the offender. Although the offender may not recognize that his or her behavior is a manifestation of the conflict created in social discourse, the onset of this behavior is a direct response to the desire to mitigate the presence of this conflict. [...]
[...] Conclusion Synthesizing all of the information that has been collected in this investigation it becomes clear that while conflict theory provides sociologists with more integral insight into the process of criminal activity and behavior, the methods of applying the lessons learned under this theory remains a critical issue for development. Conflict theory definitively demonstrates that the social pressures created as a result of the institutionalization of the activities of the upper class can contribute to the development of criminal behavior. [...]
[...] As noted by these authors there is also a form of conflict theory that, “views society as composed of multiple power groups, organized around many foci in addition to economic interests, that vie for influence about particular issues and within different domains” (p. 34). To illustrate this point, Bridges and Meyers note that two organizations or individuals that both have access to the institution of authority will fight among each other to gain the upper hand. Specifically, these authors provide the following example of how this process plays out: what is good for General Motors may not be good for the insurance industry. [...]
[...] Even though one can clearly make a theoretical connection between the social pressures placed on the offender and the actions of the offender, the question of how to address this issue in the context of conflict theory is one that is not easily resolved. For example, assuming that the individual is brought up on charges for his actions, it is clear that if the crime were framed in the context of conflict theory, the criminal justice system would have no specific individual upon which to place blame. [...]
[...] Types of Conflict Primary and Secondary Conflict Taking the definition of conflict theory one step further in an attempt to elucidate the intricacies of this process, Henry and Lanier go on to note that there are a number of different types of conflict that can occur overall. The first is known as primary conflict. This occurs when an individual from one culture is transplanted into another culture. In this context, the individual may find that traditions that are cultural norms in the home country are violations of law in the host country. [...]
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