Today, the debate on
the motivations and causation of crime is popular topic discussed across
various academic domains (i.e. Anthropology). These interdisciplinary debates
have incorporated new principles, allowing some of the formation of new
theories building upon the earlier apperceptions. For instance, rational
choice, routine activity as well as control theories builds up upon the
principles of Beccaria (e.g. free will; cost and benefits). Another example
would be Lombroso’s thesis on physical aberration, which is now improvised with
neurobiology and genetics with environmental methodologies (e.g. twin studies)
deployed in observations and research.
Criminology, as an
academic discipline has been endured constant advancement since the 18th
century, despite of its young age (Werkentin et al., 1974). With the rise of
the Classical School led by Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham to the
establishment of the individual Positivist schools (i.e. biological,
psychological, and social), we as criminologists, have derived a list of
reasons in which why an individual may commit crime. Of course, the context and
implications of crime and justice has changed as the theoretical paradigm
shifts from one to another (i.e. retributive versus restorative).
However, most theories
often deduce and explain the causation of criminality of an individual through
a one-sided perspective (Gadd and Jefferson, 2007, p. 2-5). Sociological
positivists often argue that societal factors such as gender and poverty were
crucial factors in understanding criminality. On the other hand, psychologists
tend to look for traits within individuals, identifying aspects and abnormality
to distinguish individuals who may be inclined towards criminality from the
group. Indeed, both viewpoint provides enticing implications in confabulating
one’s desire to engage in criminal behaviour.
With this in mind, Gadd
and Jefferson (ibid) argues that both perspectives mentioned above only focal
point either internal and external conditions of the individual (i.e. social vs
psychological/developmental factors). The impetus which draws one to
criminality could be due to multiple factors which may come from both
psychological and sociological domains. To truly understand the motivation that
stimulates the engagement of crime, Gadd and Jefferson’s (2007) psychosocial
approach amalgamate the spirit of psychology and sociology, providing a deeper
insight of the offender’s inner world.
“The point is that, whenever we propose a
solution to a problem, we ought to try as hard as we can to overthrow our
solution, rather than defend it. Few of us, unfortunately, practice this
precept; but other people, fortunately, will supply the criticism for us if we
fail to supply it ourselves.”
Like Popper describes,
all scientific theories and hypotheses are falsifiable.
Using their book: Psychosocial
Criminology (Gad and Jefferson,
2007) as the main literature reviewed, this paper will provide a critical,
in-depth analysis of the theory in the following order:
implication (1): Restorative Justice
implication (2): Intervention – Therapies
Prior in going
straight to the section of critically analysis, it is vital to outline the key features
of this theory.
When hearing the term
“psychosocial criminology”, one of the thing that may come to a person’s mind
is the study of criminal behaviour via one’s psychological well-being in
relation to sociological factors. In comparison to Gadd and Jefferson’s rendition
of “psychosocial”, the definition resumed above is wrong despite being
partially correct to a certain degree.
Though there are
branches in the school of psychology (i.e. social psychology and abnormal
psychology) which outlines the psychological mechanism in the sphere of
criminal behaviour, there is limited literature if not little evidence in
considering the offender as an individual with conflicting, paradoxical
thoughts (Ritchie, 2014). Following the steps of Frosh (2003, p. 183, as cited
in Gadd and Jefferson, 2007), “psychosocial criminology” as an approach
endorses a censorious stance against Psychology while trying to formulate the
“psychological subject”, the human psyche.
Humans, as Frosh emphasised,
(as a psychological subject), are the output compound created by their
cognitive mind (inner psyche) and the shared social dimension (reality). In
simpler terms, the subject (individual) acts as a structural center of action
and thought with external forces exchanging information (i.e. gender, ethnicity,
and social class). More importantly, it is also because of the having
sensations of feeling weak or defenseless that leads one into paths (which may
be considered as discourse by others) that may grant them strength on a
psychological level (i.e. respect in the neighbourhood).
It is also important
to remember that the inner psyche accounts both conscious and unconscious
processes, emotions (i.e. fear and happiness) as well as ability to manifest
imagination/fantasy. In terms of methodology and data gathering, Gadd and
Jefferson deploy interpretative biographies with elements of free association
when conducting interviews.
Undeniably, Gadd and Jefferson’s
approach in Psychosocial Criminology presents thought-provoking ideas as
synopsized above, but there are points worth questioning (Brown, 2003, 2007; Gelsthrope,
2009; Ritchie, 2014). In their own words, the authors of this theory
acknowledge that their theory is an “ambitious project” that is not detached
when viewed from the wider spectrum of social sciences.