Crime is a response of anger and frustration
Durkheim’s concept of ‘anomie’
o Lack of norms due to rapid social change
Merton’s theory of Anomie
o Universal goals but access to means to achieve goals is limited
o Lower-class experiences strain between goals and means and are
more likely to choose illegitimate means.
Social Adaptions to Strain
o Conformity: individuals have goals and the means to attain them.
Creates a stable society, without it society would cease to exist.
o Innovation: illegal means of achieving goals –most criminal.
o Ritualism: pleasure is gained from practicing traditional ceremonies –
o Retreatism: rejects goals and means of society. Deviant.
o Rebellion: call for alternatives set of goals and means in order to
create alternative opportunities and lifestyles.
Institutional Anomie Theory
o Messner and Rosenfeld
o “American Dream” –job is more important than home and family.
Success at all costs
General Strain Theory (GST)
o Robert Agnew (1992)
o Micro-theory (Individual)
o Crime is caused by emotions –failure to achieve goals, loss of positive
things (relationships), and negative stimuli (abuse).
o Few resources to help deal with strain
o Explains peaking of crime in adolescence.
Females tend to have more emotion than males, however, due
to the fact that they are socialized differently, their crime rates
are lower than males.
o Some say lower-class culture is not enough to drive people to cause
o Lower-class crime rates are due to bias in criminal justice system
Criminal career formation in terms of destructive social interactions and
Rooted in symbolic interaction theory –how people communicate meaning
and interpret reality based on interpretations of symbols.
People communicate with symbols. Interpretations of symbols are
incorporated into one’s self-image. Interpretation defines meaning.
Labels imply variety of behaviours and attitudes.
Negative labels stigmatize targets, reducing their self-image.
Being perceived as a social deviant may affect treatment at home, work,