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Criminology - Research Paper Example

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Running Head: CRIMINOLOGY: STRAIN VS. GENETICS Criminology: Strain Theory Vs. Genetic Theory Instructor Date Criminology: Strain Theory Vs. Genetic Theory Introduction: One of the most groundbreaking theories of the twentieth century was the development of the concept that stressful circumstances from both the social and personal environment of a human being can create a criminal, or is at least a strong precursor of one…
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Download file to see previous pages... Later Robert King Merton seized on this idea of anomie and further refined it into what we now know as Strain Theory. (Featherstone, 2003) This and other theories of criminology such a labeling, which is stereotyping someone with criminal behavior, all depend on environmental factors alone. However there is another side that is overlooked by environmental theories and that is the nature of the person involved in criminal behavior. This is the consummate debate between Nature versus Nurture. Do Criminals have an innate imprint from birth that lead them astray or are they created as a result of their environment? This paper will explore both sides of this issue, singling out strain theory as the environmental factor, and researching the genetic side, the innate behavior in human beings and its influence on behavior. Environmental Influence: Strain Theory This strain begins in early adulthood and adolescence, as children are exposed to the environment of everyday living. Those in poorer circumstance with less opportunity to achieve the goals they see presented in the media are often frustrated and anxiety ridden. "The social strain theory of delinquency is based on the idea that delinquency results when individuals are unable to achieve their goals through legitimate channels." (Sullivan & Wilson, 1995 p. 1) The most obvious example of this is the "Gangsta" culture that is often promoted on many levels as the way that those without the legitimate means may attain those goals. But this is nothing new, the deification of criminals certainly has been a recurring theme throughout history and the romanticizing of their crimes leads to an unrealistic portrayal of possibilities for the maturing adolescent. One of the earliest strains in the life of a juvenile is the search for legitimate employment. Again, dependent on circumstantial variables of education and cultural jobs may be difficult to find and lead to feeling of persecution and prejudice: Sociological accounts often note that delinquency is an invention of western industrialized society and the separation of childhood from the adult world of work. As job security becomes more precarious in western economies, and as adult unemployment linked to school failure becomes more common, the lasting significance of the counterschool subculture of delinquency in the life course may become more salient for some adults. (Hagan, 1997, p. 121) This "counterschool subculture" is perhaps one of the most deleterious results of the social strain concept. Difficulties in school are often one of the benchmarks of the evolving delinquent. First seen as the failure of the child or parent and then of the school system, these children often have no recourse but to find alternate means of attaining status and capital. "Several theories emphasize how stress or strain can motivate criminal behavior so strongly that possible constraints are ignored. Therefore age and crime may be related because many potential stresses or strains are age-linked." (Tittle & Grasmick, 1997, p. 321) On the microcosmic level of the young adult this can have many differing ramifications. An unsettling home environment often precipitates failure in school and exposure to abuse or neglect is often present in these conditions. These strains ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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