The Social Process Theory

The Social Reaction Hypothesis

The social reaction hypothesis focuses on the linguistic tendency of the majority group to negatively characterize the minority group or those individuals who are seen as deviating from the standards. Charles Lemert, a social reaction theorist, established the theory (Social Reaction Theory, 2017). The main focus of the argument, which is connected to the ideas of stereotyping and self-fulfilling prophecy, is how labels used to categorize or characterize people may have an impact on their behavior and sense of self. Fundamentally, the approach of societal reaction differentiates between primary deviance in which people to do not view themselves as being deviant, and secondary deviance that involves one accepting a different status. Notably, primary deviance comes up for various reasons including sociological, biological, and psychological reasons (Social Reaction Theory, 2017). On the other hand, secondary deviance turns out to be a means of attack, defense, or adapting to the problems brought about by social reaction toward primary deviant conduct.

Social Control (Social Bond) Theory

The social control theory was created by Trivis Hirschi and the fundamental question asked is why do individuals obey the law? According to this theory, individuals become involved in criminal acts when their societal bond becomes weak (Ortiz, 2017). Primarily, the theory refers to the view which predicts that whenever social restraints on antisocial conduct are absent or weakened, there is subsequent emerging of delinquent behavior. Precisely, when a person has gone through an absence of social links or an absence of a social network, which would often ban the criminal activity, the possibility that the person will take part in criminal activity intensifies (Ortiz, 2017).

Social Learning/Differential Association Theory

Differential association theory was created by Edwin Sutherland in which he proposed that through interacting with other people, individuals learn the techniques, motives, attitudes, and values for criminal conduct. The theory focuses on the manner in which people learn to be criminals; however, it does not focus on why these people become criminals (Differential Association Theory, 2017). Markedly, the differential association predicts that a person will elect the criminal route when the balances of law-breaking definitions are found to exceed those associated with law-abiding. Such a trend will be strengthened if social association offers active individuals in the person's life. Notably, the earlier in life a person comes under the influence of higher status people in a group, the more probable he or she is to follow their behaviors. Indeed, this does not repudiate that hands-on motivations for the crime may exist. (Differential Association Theory, 2017). For instance, if an individual is hungry but lacks money, he might be tempted to steal; however, the use of "values" and "needs" is ambiguous. To a particular level, both criminal and non-criminal individuals are driven by the need for social gain and money.

Applying the Theories to a particular Criminal Scenario

In this case, the criminal scenario to be considered is one where an individual engages in a robbery with violence. Considering the social reaction or labeling theory, this concerns with the way individuals' behavior and self-identity may be influenced by the terms utilized to classify or describe them. As an illustration, historically, the African Americans have been labeled as people who have high chances of engaging in criminal activities. Such labeling may make some of the blacks believe that they are inclined toward committing crimes. As a way of hitting back at the majority group, they may start engaging in violent crimes such as robbery with violence.

Considering the social control theory, individuals become involved in criminal acts when their societal bond becomes weak. The social links or networks that helps to prohibit engaging in criminal activities may be broken when an individual stays away from the mainstream society such as staying in prison. When such a person comes out, he or she might have lost touch with the societal norms and may engage in more violent crimes such as robbery with violence. Initially, the person might have gone to jail after committing a less serious crime, but he or she eventually commit more severe crimes.

Finally, considering the differential association theory, this states that through interacting with other people, individuals learn the techniques, motives, attitudes, and values for criminal conduct. In this case, if one associates with people who engage in illegal activities such as robbery with violence, they may as well start taking part in such crimes. Fundamentally, an individual can be informed about the financial gain that comes with engaging in a robbery with violence, and this can be a significant motivating factor that can drive him or her to decide to participate in this crime.


I believe the most valid theory that makes the most sense in one deciding to engage in a robbery with violence is the differential association theory. Apparently, participating in a robbery with violence is a perilous venture, and one has to be sufficiently motivated to become a participant in it. In essence, one needs to have some "mentors" to understand how to go about it and to know the eventual gain that comes out from it.


Differential Association Theory. (2017). Lumen Learning. Retrieved from,

Ortiz, M. (2017). The Social Control Theory. History of Forensic Psychology. Retrieved from,

Social Reaction Theory. (2017). Sociology Index. Retrieved from,

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