In the everyday life, when one deals with the risk of crime, it appeared to be an integral part of the human life. It is a well-known fact that crime always brings harm and violence, and it can be focused on different objects: individual, property, institutions or authorities.  This essay views ‘the crime’ from different perspectives: social, political, legal and psychological one. This will give an opportunity to understand what the crime is and why it is so hard to give one definition and to determine common types of the crime.

Definition of Crime and Its Characteristic

What does ‘the crime’ mean? Firstly, it is an action or omission made by a group of people or an individual, against the law of the state. Secondly, the punishment follows after such action or mission, which is prohibited by law.

On the other hand, crime is an action against the law of God or what we consider as God’s will. This kind of law is mentioned in Hole Bible, Torah or Koran.

Generally speaking, crime is considered to be an event which is proscribed at Criminal codes, but violates written criminal law (Defining Crime, 2005). Every society decides what actions can be regarded as crimes and which cannot.  It depends on cultural, social, religious and other values and beliefs which exist in the society. For example, western states do not prohibit homosexual orientation, while under the Iranian law people can be prisoned for having such orientation. The next example is an attitude to bigamy or polygamy:  in Western world it is considered to be a violation of marital law, while in some countries it is treated as a social norm and is not an offence.

In sociology, crime can be analyzed through five perspectives: functionalism, theory of conflict, interactionism, feminism and postmodern perspectives.

Functionalists pay attention to a person. Some representatives of this theory tried to create a new science – a science of human actions – integrating all social sciences (Cottino, 2006).

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According to the theory of conflict, social injustice and unequal division are main reasons for committing crimes. As for the interactionism, the crime arises as a result of the human interaction. Everyone has different attitudes, positions, cultures, values, beliefs, etc. Media has also influenced the criminal behavior. Under the feminist theory, patriarchy (the domination of males in the society) and gender inequality are the worst disadvantages for women. Almost all the time, women are victims and not perpetrators. Finally, as for the postmodern theory, there is no reason for crimes and their genesis, nevertheless, social changes give rise to the crime (Sociological aspects of crime, 2011).

The psychology, in turn, studies the behavior of criminals and tries to explain why people violate law, and what factors encourage them to commit the crime. Based on these studies, state should build an environment in which it would be impossible to commit the crime. In addition, the state through the preschool and school institutions should provide training and give children an understanding that for every crime they will be punished (Buss D.M., 2012).

The crime is largely defined in terms laid down by the nation state. Unfortunately, this principle mostly relates to western societies. A lot of lawyers say that nowadays a definition of crime is a warrant for ‘regulation or elimination of social relationships, properties of social systems, or social systems as a whole’ but not a warrant for ‘controlling atomistic individuals, or preventing atomistic act’ (Schwendiger and Schwendiger, 1975: 136).

Frameworks of crime expanded after a World War II when, due to texts of international conventions and multilateral treaties, the system of international crimes was recognized (e.g. genocide, crimes against humanity)


Defining crime is not a problem of one state or a certain individual. This is a problem of the whole world. Different states have different legislations and what is a crime in one system may not be a crime in another one. It is an obligation of the state to provide the security within its borders, so the next obligation of the state is to determine what actions can be forbidden and can be considered as a crime and what measures are to be used against them.

All this does not give an opportunity to determine what exact actions can be considered as a crime and what punishment to use.  

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