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Le phénomène criminel dans la théorie du capital humain

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  • Gilles Leloup

Abstract

[fre] Dans les sociétés où les rapports entre les individus s'inscrivent dans un cadre légal, il revient aux autorités de faire respecter la loi en punissant les auteurs d'actes considérés comme répréhensibles. Reste toutefois à définir la notion d'« infraction à la loi ». Celle-ci ne fait pas l'unanimité chez les criminologues : pour les uns, elle se confond avec le passage à l'acte de l'individu; pour les autres, il n'y a d'infraction que si l'acte incriminé est qualifié comme tel par le juge. Seule cette dernière approche, dite de la réaction sociale, est satisfaisante sur le plan sociologique, La théorie de capital humain propose une interprétation économique du phénomène criminel. Le modèle théorique, proposé par Becker et développé par Ehrlich, s'inscrit dans une criminologie du passage à l'acte. Mais l'insuffisance des données disponibles amène Ehrlich à tester un modèle empirique, ne portant que sur les crimes et les délits outre la propriété. Il obtient alors un optimum des crimes et délits sur une période pluriannuelle. Il n'en va plus de même lorsque l'on tente d'adapter le modèle à la criminologie de la réaction sociale: il devient en effet impossible, faute de consensus sur la notion de « transgression de la norme », d'obtenir des résultats qui puissent être considérés comme significatifs. [eng] In societies where laws govern relations between individuals, it is the duty of the authorities to enforce the law by punishing perpetrators of acts considered to be reprehensible. Nevertheless, there remains to be defined the notion of "breach of law". Criminolgists are far from agreeing on a definition. For some, violation of the law and the carrying out of the deed by an individual are one and the same; for others, there is no breach of law unless the incriminated act is labelled as such by a judge. Only this latter approach — the so-called Social Response — is satisfactory from a sociological point of view. The Human Capital theory advances an economic interpretation of criminal phenomena. The theoretical model, proposed by Becker and developed by Ehrlich, is in keeping with the first school of thought, i.e., that crime resides in the carrying out of the deed. However, as the available data is insufficient, Ehrlich is led to try an empirical model, based solely on crimes an misdemeanours against property. He thus obtains an optimum of the crimes and misdemeanours committed over a span of several years. The result is no longer the same when an attempt is made to adapt the model to the Social Response theory; it, in fact, becomes impossible — for lack of a consensus on the notion of "transgressing the norm" — to obtain results which might be considered significant.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilles Leloup, 1996. "Le phénomène criminel dans la théorie du capital humain," Revue Française d'Économie, Programme National Persée, vol. 11(3), pages 21-68.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:rfreco:rfeco_0769-0479_1996_num_11_3_1097
    Note: DOI:10.3406/rfeco.1996.1097
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