Control, Labeling and Conflict Theory Essay

criminology / control theory / labeling theory / conflict theory / organized crime / sexual crime

Essay Topic:

The analysis of the organized crime, white-collar crime and homicide with relation to such criminological theories as the control, conflict and labeling theories.

Essay Questions:

What role does control, labeling and conflict theories play in criminology? How does the control theory related to the satisfaction of the needs and internal control? How can the control theory explain the organized crime formations?

Thesis Statement:

The analysis of the organized crime, white-collar crime and homicide with relation to such criminological theories as the control, conflict and labeling theories, brings to very interesting conclusions concerning the reasons of the crimes and corresponding legal responses to them.


Control, Labeling and Conflict Theory Essay


Table of contents:

1. Introduction

2. Control, conflict and labeling theories.

3. Organized crime

4. Sexual crime

5. White-collar crime

6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Criminology has always been an integral part of the life of the contemporary society. Crime, being the central problem of criminology, is a violation of the laws, based on the moral and political rules of the region. It is a type of antisocial behavior that has various different types. Crimes are committed in many spheres and there is a specific name for each kind of crime. Criminal law is destignated to control and restrain any types of anticosial behaviour. There numerous criminal theories, explaining the reasons of deviant acts. The control theory, labeling theory and the conflict theory are three of the main ones but by no means the only ones. Each of these theories can be applied to white-collar crime, organized crime, sexual crime, larceny, homicide and the rest of the crime-types. The analysis of the organized crime, white-collar crime and homicide with relation to such criminological theories as the control, conflict and labeling theories, brings to very interesting conclusions concerning the reasons of the crimes and corresponding legal responses to them.

2.Control, conflict and labeling theories

Control theory. Travis Hirschi was the man to introduce the control theory into criminology. According to the main thesis of this theory the lack of self-control is the key-factor in provoking antisocial behavior and effective and productive socialization prevents it. The control theory is based on the notion of existence of four main types of control: 1) control is achieved through her satisfaction of the needs of the person and if all his needs are met he does not need to commit delinquent acts in order to achieve them; 2) internal control that implies the understanding that any antisocial, delinquent acts can cause suffering to the family members, relatives and control is achieved throughout identification with this important people); 3)indirect control implies restraining from criminal behavior due to the personal conscience.4)direct control, when control is carries out by the authority figures and their rewards in case of not commencing antisocial acts.

Conflict theory.

This theory analyzes the fundamental causes of deviant crime activities and marks out economic and social reasons as the main ones. It implies the conflict of the elite class and the poor. The elite class in the eyes of poor people tries to control them and has the best. It becomes a goal for the low-class representatives to achieve justice through “taking away what belongs to them”. Lewis A. Coser and Randall Collins elaborated the conflict theory in the United States of America. According to the major messages of the theory, it is competition in terms of economic and social reasons that causes people to commit crimes. With the help of this theory Coser and Randall introduced the supposition that conflict is the central factor for any changes in social behavior. They presented the next four assumptions concerning the cause of any crime activities: 1) competition over deficit of money, friends and sexual partners; 2) structural inequality concerns all the social institutions and is about inequality in power; 3) revolution, a type of a conflict based on a clash of interests often resulting in the last one, which is 4) war.

Labeling theory. The labeling theory in terms of criminology explains how people are given different “labels” by different organizations and police in the first place. It is important to say that this theory has a lot to do with symbolism of any social interaction and the possible consequences that such “labels” can bring to the society. It is common knowledge that if a person is constantly being told that he is a thief, a bribe-taker, a criminal, or even a felon he will believe that and leave his conscience no way back to normal life. This theory is about the significance of the opinion of publicity and legal authorities and the vigor of the “labels” they give. In other words giving “labels” does not just singles out criminals out of the crowd but actually promoted criminal behavior because the person strives to prove that he really is what he is called. Labeling provokes repeated criminal acts, and this explains why people who have been charged with a crime one usually commit a crime again. Minimizing the possibility of public condemnation of the person can prevent deviant behavior in terms of the labeling theory. A “label” affirms that a person cannot change and become better.

3. Organized crime

Organized crime is a type of criminal acts that occur systematically and are planned and organized by criminal formations and organizations. The fact that all the crimes are accurately planned and realized by a criminal hierarchical structure makes organized crime one of the biggest contemporary problems. Basically, organized crime implies activities that go against the law and are precisely controlled put into practice by terrorist organizations and other representatives of organized crime. One of the most distinguishing traits of organized crime to mention is that such organizations are highly disciplined and have a distinct structure. Analyzing organized crime from the side of the three crime theories that were presented above it is necessary to say that organized crime fits in each of these theories.

Control theory can become true for the organized crime members due to a number of unsatisfied basic needs and a lack of conscience, nevertheless organized crime has an authority that influences the criminal behavior of its members do not have restraining factors in the face of “positive” authorities (for instance government or a politician). Conflict theory explains the delinquent activity of organized crime as the result of the desire to eliminate class inequality, power inequality and to prove ideological issues. One of the brightest examples of such activities are the acts of terrorist organizations. Labeling theory works for separate nationalities in terms of the organized crime issue It is believed that the Italians, Hispanic people and Arabs are “Mafiosi, terrorists and gang members” or simply saying “criminals”. This leads to the fact that the representatives of these nationalities in unite to protect themselves through organized crime.

4.Sexual crime

Any sexual crime is the result of a deviant human sexual behavior. Sex offences have become frequent lately. It is important to mention that sexual crimes always imply violent acts against the victim. Sexual crimes include numerous of deviations, nevertheless here is the list of the most widespread crimes: lust murder, rape, sexual abuse, incest, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse and child pornography. Sexual crimes within the control theory are the result of the sexual dissatisfaction of the criminal and he has never gotten a reward for proper sexual behavior. Basically saying the theory implies that sexual crimes are results of disorder with a sexual basis. In this case no authorities or family members can stop the sexual offender from committing a crime. The conflict theory gives several reasons for sexual crimes: a deficit of sexual partners and a need to have power over the other person. The labeling theory states that people labeled as “rapists” or “pedophiles” are more likely to repeat the sexual crimes. Though these labels of sexual crimes are used to show precisely how much people disapprove this action, nevertheless this label will determine the later behavior of either a “rapist” or a “pedophile” and modify their behavior in accordance with the label.

5. White-collar crimes

Criminology uses the term white-collar crime in order to identify a crime that is “committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation”. This term was introduced by Edwin Sutherland. Sutherland was a specialist in the sphere of personal identity and primary in the interpersonal interactions. According to this theory a person learn criminal behaviour from the interactions he has with other people. Being a white-collar employee, the person has a high position and gets more opportunities for different types of crimes including in the first place bribary, fraud and embezzlement. This type of crime is about is a crime commited by the respresentatives of a very educated part of the society, as in order to get a white-collar position a person needs to be a professional in his sphere.

The control theory views white-collar crimes as the result of a wrong conception of the person getting a white-collar position. As te position is often rather high the regular authorities top retaining him from the criminal behavior and aeverything he strives for is to satisfy his growing financial and commodity needs. Accodring to the conflict theory white-collar crimes happen due to the existing competition between people in the society. A white-collar strives for power and filling up his financial deficit and is especially actually when a person from low-class achieves this position. In this case he tries to get what he has never had before. The labelling theory explains the white-collar crimes with the notion that everybody believes white-collars to be bribe takers and embezzlers, treat them correspondently and the white-collars percieve bribery and embezzling as an integral part of their professions.


Organized crime, sexual crimes and white-collar crime are one of the most heinous crimes. The national civil and criminal law protects all the citizens from such offences. The theories measure the depth of the problem and therefore dictate the legal response of the government to these terrible crimes.


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