Criminality as the product of culture


When asked to determine the major causes of criminal behavior, one can take various stances. One common line of research regards crime as a result of the culture or subculture to which one belongs, rather than blaming it solely on individual differences. In other words, enculturation is crucial in the development of criminal behavior.


Members of subcultures, control agents, politicians, governmental and private security services, media producers and recipients, commercial companies, and other social actors assign meaning to these cultural practices, which serve as the basis for their actions.

Culture of crime

Culture is a system of values, behaviors, and beliefs taught via interactions with others. According to this viewpoint, culture is primarily transferred to individuals through private peer networks and across generations to provide support or encouragement for activities that may be considered unacceptable in society at large.


Furthermore, cultural pressures reveal which actions are appreciated and which are viewed as irrelevant or unsupported. Subcultures may emerge in opposition to the prevailing culture and support behaviors that depart from wider social standards or disparities in socioeconomic classes, gender, or geographic location.

The dominant culture may label the activities of another culture as illegal or deviant to safeguard their interests or marginalize a minority group. As a result, cultural differences might lead to the identification or formation of criminal organizations.

Finally, public reactions to the media can encourage the notion that deviant behavior is widespread, requiring legislative action to recognize and characterize an act as unlawful. Regardless of the veracity of media statements, greater cultural dynamics might foster the notion that criminal or deviant behavior is a threat to public safety. Thus, cultural theories cover many ideas regarding crime and criminality.

Crimes in different cultures

Below are a few examples of cultural abuse!

Honor Killing

Honor killing is the murder of a woman or a girl by male family members. The killers excuse their crimes by arguing that the victim has harmed the family name or prestige Girls’ and women’s actions are strictly scrutinized in patriarchal civilizations.

The preservation of a woman’s virginity and “sexual purity” is regarded as the responsibility of her male relatives—first her father and brothers, then her spouse. Victims of honor killings are frequently accused of engaging in “sexually immoral” behavior, ranging from publicly speaking with men who are not related to them to having intercourse outside of marriage.

On the other hand, a woman can be targeted for murder for various reasons, such as refusing to join an arranged marriage or seeking a divorce or separation—even from an abusive husband.

The mere idea that a woman has acted in a way that may have harmed her family’s reputation may prompt an attack; these assumptions are usually based on men’s feelings and perceptions rather than factual truth. Ironically, female relatives frequently justify the killings and, on occasion, assist in their execution.


Dowries have a long history in different world regions. They are most frequent in firmly patrilineal societies and expect women to live with or near their husband’s family. One of the primary roles of a dowry is to protect the wife from maltreatment by her husband and In-laws.

In this context, a dowry is a conditional gift expected to be returned to the wife if the husband divorces, abuses, or commits serious transgressions against her. Land and precious metals are typically utilized in this type of dowry. They are frequently inalienable by the husband, even if he may use and profit from them during the marriage.

Gender Discrimination

Gender inequality is defined as discrimination based on sex or gender, resulting in one sex or gender being consistently prioritized over another. Gender equality is a fundamental human right. Gender-based discrimination violates that right. Gender disparities begin in childhood and are currently restricting the lifelong potential of children worldwide, harming girls disproportionately.

Domestic Violence abuse

Domestic abuse, also known as “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence,” is a behavior employed in any relationship to obtain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is defined as physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychic actions or threats against another individual. It includes any actions that fear, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, harm, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound another person.

Domestic violence can occur to everyone, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can happen in various partnerships, including married, living together, and dating couples. Domestic abuse affects people of all social and educational backgrounds.

Cultural Theories of Crime

Cultural Transmission Theory of Deviance

In the mid-twentieth century, criminologists investigated how environmental influences influence criminal conduct. Early theories portrayed deviance as a result of a battle of ideas between classes and a strategy to achieve conventional success.

At the end of the twentieth century, criminologists focused away on the impact of middle-class attitudes on others and lower-class culture. To describe values systems favorable to crime, criminologists devised ideas such as “street code.”

Cultural transmission theory is a Chicago School hypothesis that natural areas arise in cities isolated from the rest of society due to immigration patterns. As a result, the occupants create their knowledge, beliefs, and patterns of conduct that allow for specific types of aberrant behavior.

Cultures are passed on to the next generation in each of these domains. Thus, sections of a city, not their residents, exhibit consistent patterns of criminal conduct. As people move to the suburbs, the transmission of deviant subcultures breaks down.

Strain Theory

In sociology, strain theory proposes that pressure from social circumstances, such as a lack of income or a lack of excellent education, pushes individuals to commit a crime. The concepts that underpin strain theory were first articulated in the 1930s by American sociologist Robert K. Merton, whose work on the subject was notably prominent in the 1950s.

Classic strain theories focused on underprivileged populations. In such communities, the people with common ambitions and the incapacity to accomplish those goals motivate the criminals. Individuals with salaries below the poverty line, for example, we’re unable to attain common, socially accepted desires by legal means. We are thus driven to engage in illegal behavior to achieve our goals.

Cultural Violence

The culture of violence theory addresses the pervasiveness of specific violent tendencies within a societal component and cultural acceptance of abuse. As studies continued, the idea that society might justify violent behaviors evolved into what is now known as the culture of violence theory.

Johan Galtung, a peace scholar, made an essential addition to understanding violence by distinguishing between direct and structural violence. He defined direct violence as “physically injuring other individuals with intent” and structural violence as “human injury due to inequities in our systems.”

Galtung later added the phrase “cultural violence” to his concept. Cultural violence refers to culturally-based explanations for direct or structural violence — cultural violence makes direct or structural violence look justifiable. It might take the shape of stories, songs, language use, components of faiths or traditions, assumptions, or stereotypes.


Peace movements have traditionally focused on direct violence on battlefields. Still, in recent years, other forms of violence have been added to their plan, including the costs of wars, reducing budgets for health care and education, torture, school shootings, new weapon systems, and, to some extent, domestic violence.

Other social movements have addressed psychological violence (bullying), violence against animals, violence against nature, and structural violence issues, such as poverty and economic justice.


Different social groups battle over the definition of crime, which drives crime. This competition shows the clash of several cultural influences. As a result of the struggle over the definition of crime, there is a feedback process in which crime impacts culture, and culture influences crime.

Community Watch Paper posts:

How Community Influences Your Behavior

What Influences The Criminal Behavior?


Recent Posts