Theoretical Dimensions Involving Criminal Behavior Crime is an international phenomenon, something that has been happening for centuries. There had been a lot of studies on criminality and criminal behavior. Are criminals born or made? What factors make a person a criminal?…
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Cultural norms are actions and practices that are well-accepted in society, while deviant actions are those that are not acceptable. All forms of crime are considered deviant. It is not acceptable for a person to break into the house of someone else and take everything. It is not acceptable for a person to randomly kill another person. Thus, deviants, most especially, criminals, need to be punished in order for them to be accepted again into society. Theories on Criminal Behavior One of the sociological theories that were applied to criminal behavior was Durkheim’s concept of anomie. Anomie is the mismatch between a person’s (or a group’s) beliefs and that of the majority. When a feeling of anomie exists, then the two groups can not exist in the presence of the other. One has to give way, usually, the smaller group adapting the norms of the larger group. When the smaller group decides to continue going against the norms, then conflict would occur. The concept of anomie was used by Robert King Merton and other sociologists to develop what they refer to as the Strain Theory. The strain theory states that social structures and norms within society may pressure citizens to commit crime. It follows Durkheim’s study of anomie and suicide. He believed that a person commits suicide due to a feeling of insignificance and alienation. Merton used Durkheim’s views to further explain deviance and criminal behavior. ...
et of social relationships in which members of the society or group are variously implicated." Anomie, the state of normlessness, arises when there is "an acute disjunction between the cultural norms and goals and the socially structured capacities of members of the group to act in accord with them." (Merton, 1968) Merton then links all the three concepts and believes that discontinuities between culture and structure cause deviance. Source: Wikipedia.org If Merton’s theory would be applied to the social context at present, an example we can use is the common belief that crimes increase in times of economic crisis. People have certain cultural practices, and these practices are supported by the structure (government and economy). Once the structure breaks down, like in an economic crisis, the people would have to adjust their practices. Those who cannot adjust to the new structure, or those who does not want to adjust, tend to do crimes. It’s like a person who steals money from the bank so that he or she can buy food and other basic needs. Robert Agnew further explained Merton’s theory, believing that a theory should not be tied to social class or culture. He popularized the general strain theory, which focused more on an individual’s immediate social environment. He argued that an individual's actual or anticipated failure to achieve positively valued goals, actual or anticipated removal of positively valued behavior, and actual or anticipated presentation of negative behavior all result in strain. For example, if an individual fails to get the kind of attention that he or she expects from others, then that would cause that individual to feel bad about other people. These situations are more common among children, and if this kind of feeling builds up, then
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