Walter Reckless Containment Theory

Crime Causation:
A Comparison of Two Theories
Andrew Dyar
Anderson University

Abstract: This essay offers a comparison between Robert Akers’ Social Learning Theory, and Walter Reckless’ Containment Theory. Social Learning Theory expands on Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory and seeks to explain that crime causation in some individuals is contributed to external factors in their environment. Containment Theory exists as part of the control theory that credits crime causation to external factors facing an individual, but also internal factors that affect a person’s decision to commit crime. In conclusion this paper compares and contrasts these two theories with a brief discussion.
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Reckless explores how some individuals come to be involved in criminal activity and others do not. Reckless believes that there are a number of factors that contribute to one deciding to commit crime including those that are psychological, genetic, and environmental. The Containment Theory was designed to explain how this push and pull affect some, while the majority tends to conform to the norms of society. Reckless explained that both an outer containment and inner containment exist and act as a shelter from criminal activity that prevent the person from being exposed to these pushes and pulls, and in order for criminal activity to occur these containments must be weakened (Lilly et al., …show more content…
Social Learning Theory and Containment Theory both acknowledge that society plays a strong role in crime; however, Containment Theory, being part of the control theory school of thought, also places strong emphasis on the individual and internal factors to explain how some people commit criminal activity while others do not when exposed to the same external forces (Lilly et al., 2015). The real difference in these theories becomes a question of free will. Are people defined simply by their environments and learned behaviors, or is there something internal that steers us in our development? Personally, my opinion most closely coincides with Reckless and his peers among the control theory, but one cannot deny that Akers’ Social Learning Theory has been considered one of the best explanations for crime causation. Using Akers’ theory, if one is able to gather statistical data of an area and take measures to make changes and improve that environment it could reduce the criminal presence in that area by disrupting the criminal element that exists. Although this might merely force those who commit crime to relocate to somewhere fitting to their beliefs rather than eliminate the problem. If the goal of law enforcement and political leaders is to heed to Social Learning Theory, and hope to find a solution

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