Theories Of Crime Essay

1459 words - 6 pages

Why do people commit crime? This is relatively strong topic discussed by sociologists that believe criminal or deviant behaviors are not because of ones physical characteristic. This essay will mainly focus on the Functionalist and Conflict Theories of crime. Conflict theorist argue that deviance is deliberately chosen, and often political in nature, where as Functionalist theorist argue that deviance and crime is caused by structural tensions created by social structure. Functionalists argue that people commit crimes because there is something wrong with the society the individual is in, and that this is what causes the individual to commit crime. Crime is caused by the structure of society. Conflict theorists argue that the criminal makes a choice to commit a crime ''in response to inequalities of the capitalist system'' (Giddens, 2001).Subcultural functionalist, Albert Cohen, bases his research on the lower classes. Through his research Cohen found that the lower class adolescents were disadvantaged in respect to success in general life. Cohen believed that the lower class were disadvantaged before they even started to achieve. Cohen argued, majority of the lower class children, do not start at the same position as the middle class. Because of this situation, Cohen thought that lower classes children suffered from status frustration (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Due to this lower class children's annoyance with their position within society, Cohen developed the theory that the lower class child would develop or form into a sub-culture where "delinquent subculture takes its norms from the larger culture but turns them upside down" (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Due to the subculture creating goals, by the delinquent, as unattainable within society, Cohen argued that this is a cause of deviance and crime.Basically, with Cohens theory, it is mostly based namely on lower class position. Unfortunately, this only recognises that the lower class has more of a greater possibility of becoming deviant in there behavior, and Cohen disregards crimes of higher class. Another suggestion Cohen makes is that all disadvantaged people will perform acts, of deviant, criminal nature to achieve their goals. An important to understand that this is not always the case. Some individuals choose to work hard within society and its laws to gain legitimate success (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000).Sociologist Merton, another functionalist, developed the Strain Theory, which he updated from Sociologist Durkheim theory of anomie. Durkheim stated in the anomie theory "that circumstances in which social norms are no longer clear and people are morally adrift" (O'Donnell, 1997). Merton then modified Durkeim's statement by instead stating that "term anomie is to describe the strain which occurs when individuals experience conflict between their pursuit of societies goals and the means society provides to achieve them'' (O'Donnell, 1997). Merton mainly focuses on various acts...

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