Strain Theory: An Explanation Of Criminal Behavior

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A person’s behaviour becomes deviant through the process of social construction, some behaviours considered deviant or criminal in one society may be honourable in another society. The social response towards these behaviours determine the legal status of the behaviour, changes to the legal status are carried out and changed by social policies. (oxfordbibliographies.com, 2016) Sociologists believe that crime is culturally constructed as policies and laws such as smoking in cars around infants has only recently been considered as a deviant behaviour. One explanation of crime is based around the functionalist ideologies. Functionalists such as Durkheim (1947) argue that crime is essential for society to function properly, that it is a normal …show more content…

He claims that status frustration is a factor to the increase in criminal behaviour. The working-class males want to achieve the same success that is valued by society but lack of education and opportunity stops this from happening. Although unlike Strain theory, Cohen claims the working-class males turn to the values and norms of a delinquent subculture such as a gang, as they can achieve success easier. The subcultures place high value on petty criminal acts such as vandalism and theft as these acts help the individuals to gain respect. Since the crimes reward behaviour with more respect than financial gain, it explains why people commit non-utilitarian crimes. (Burke, …show more content…

The subcultural approach can be criticised as it assumes delinquency is socialised into the proletariat. In contrast, this approach gives insight into non-utilitarian crimes such as vandalism. Cohen also explains what functionalist Merton misses about group based crime. Another criticism could be that official crime statistics do not cover unreported crimes so this means that subculturalists base their theories on unrepresentative samples. The Marxist approach believes that crime reflects the inequalities within society. Like functionalism, they believe that crime is unavoidable but believe that it will only be resolved when capitalism is overthrown. Marxists believe that the problems with criminal behaviour lies with the bourgeoisie as they are the ones who create the laws, and these laws only benefit them. (Bown et al,

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