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Chapter 7

CC100 Chapter 7: Chapter 7 CC100

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Andrew Welsh

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Chapter 7: Theories of Crime Causation (3 branches of social structure: social disorganization theory, strain theory, and cultural deviance theory) Strain Theory: Society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals though they lack the means; this leads to strain, which may lead the individuals to commit crimes  Anomie theory: anomie occurs when norms of behaviour are broken down during periods of rapid social change. o Anomie is most likely to occur in societies that are moving from a pre-industrial model held together by traditions, shared values, and unquestioned beliefs. This shift in traditions and values creates turmoil and established norms begin to erode and lose meaning, a theme also used in disorganization theory  Merton found that two elements of culture interact to produce potentially anomic conditions: culturally defines goals and socially approved means for obtaining them. (page 215)  Social adaptions (Merton’s 5 goals and the means for getting them) 1. Conformity: occurs when people embrace conventional social goals and have the means to attain them 2. Innovation: when people accept the goals of society but cant attain them through conventional means 3. Ritualism: when social goals are lowered in importance 4. Retreatists: reject both the goals and the means of society 5. Rebellion: involves substituting an alternative set of goals and means for conventional goals means Evaluation of anomie theory  Some people innovate by stealing or extorting money, others retreat into drugs and alcohol, rebel by joining revolutionary groups, or get involved in ritualistic behaviour by joining a religious cult  Merton did not explain why people differ in their choice of criminal behaviour, why does one anomic person become a mugger while another deals drugs?  Critics have also suggested that people pursue numerous different goals, including educational, athletic, and social success. Institutional anomie theory: At the macro level, antisocial behaviour is seen as a function of cultural and institutional influences in society  Anomic conditions occur because the desire to succeed at any cost drives people apart, weakens the collective sense of community, fosters ambition and restricts the desirability of other kinds of achievement such as a good name or a respected reputation  The North American dream involves the accumulation of material goods and wealth  People who valued the North American dream but failed to achieve the economic success were more crime prone Relative deprivation theory: The condition that exists when people of wealth and people of poverty live in close proximity to one another, affecting crime rates  Divisions between the rich and the poor create envy and mistrust General Strain theory: A micro level analysis of how individuals who feel stress and strain are more likely to commit crimes (Focus is on the individual)  Agnew focuses on why people who feel stress and strain are more likely to commit crimes  Criminality is the direct result of negative affective states: the anger, depression, disappointment, fear, and other adverse emotions that derive from strain 1. Strain caused by the failure to achieve positively valued
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