Jul 26, 2017

What are the fundamental differences between anomie/strain theories and control theories?

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Criminal Behavior: Strain Theory vs. Control Theory


****What are the fundamental differences between anomie/strain theories and control theories? Do these fundamental differences matter in understanding criminal behavior? How well do these theories explain criminal behavior? What are their strengths and weaknesses? •Your answers should be no longer than 1 page per each question (single-spaced, 12 inch type, 1 inch margins). Please avoid, to the extent possible, anecdotes and personal stories. •Each reply will be evaluated on clarity, logic, and level of documentation. Your papers must be in your OWN words. This means that you must cite your sources within the text and provide to your facilitator a list of references. You may use outside academic sources. BOOK: `Criminological Theory: Past to Present` fourth edition, by Cullen and Agnew. Week 5 Part V Anomie/Strain Theories of Crime 13. Social Structure and Anomie Robert K. Merton 14. Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang Albert K. Cohen 15. Crime and the American Dream Richard Rosenfeld and Steven F. Messner 16. Pressured into Crime: General Strain Theory Robert S. Agnew Part VI Varieties of Control Theory 17. Techniques of Neutralization Gresham M. Sykes and David Matza 18. Social Bond Theory Travis Hirschi 19. A General Theory of Crime Michael R. Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi


Main Explanations of Crime

Sociological explanations of crime have been dominated by three main traditions
Anomie/strain theory (Robert Merton)
Differential association/social learning theory (Edwin Sutherland and Ronald Akers)
Control theory (Travis Hirschi)
Focus of this chapter is on control theory
Control Theories
lUnlike strain and cultural deviance theories, control theories do not see humans as “blank slates” onto which society writes its script

Control theories argue it is human nature for people to “naturally” break the law
Like other animals, humans seek gratification and crime is often an easy means to secure gratification
Gives ample motivation to commit crime
Since all humans have motivation, theories that seek to explain motivation (e.g., strain and cultural deviance theories/social learning) are not needed
Control Theories
Instead of asking “why do they do it” criminologists need to ask “why don’t they do it”
What prevents them from acting out on their impulses
Control theorists argue that the control

 society exerts over individuals is why

 people do not commit crime

Control theories assume that delinquent

 acts result when an individual’s bond to

 society is weak or broken

Variation in control, not variation in

 motivation, explains why some people

 break the law more than others

Control Theories

Early control theories
Shaw and McKay (1942, 1972) tied delinquency to the attenuation of control in inner-city areas
Reiss (1951) discussed personal and social controls
Nye (1958) emphasized internal, direct, and indirect controls
Sykes and Matza (1957) focused on the neutralization of restraints
Reckless (1961) developed containment theory
Strain Theory vs. Control TheoryNameCourseInstitutionDateStrain Theory vs. Control TheoryStrain theory tries to show how structures within the society can pressure people living within that society to commit crime. Strain theory in simple terms states that social structures within a society may pressure people to commit crime. Social structures refer to the means within the society which affects how an individual perceives his or her needs. Structures determine what is viewed as being more important than the other and defines the means towards achieving that particular need CITATION Rob67 l 1033 (Merton, 1967). Pressure, or strain, according to Robert Merton`s strain/anomie theory, is caused by the differences that exist between culturally defined goals and the means available to achieve these goals. For example, the dominant goal in the U.S is the acquisition and accumulation of wealth; this is so as happiness is always associated with material success and wealth CITATION Ste97 l 1033 (Messner & Rosenfeld, 1997). The socially accepted means of acquiring wealth is believed to be hard work and education. It is believed that people who devote themselves to hard work and study have better chances of succeeding financially and the other way also applies. Based on strain theory, problems arise as the legitimate means of achieving these socially accepted goals are not equally or uniformly distributed; people from economically well of families have better access to these means than their counterparts in economically disadvantaged famili...

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