Criminology : Theories, Patterns, And Typologies Essay

Criminology : Theories, Patterns, And Typologies Essay

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In Larry J. Siegel’s book, Criminology: Theories, Patterns, and Typologies, the author provided a definition of strain theory stating that it is a “branch of social structure theory that sees crime as a function of the conflict between people’s goals and the means available for the people to obtain those goals legally”. The people of the lower class are unable to meet their goals legally, and they have feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment that begin to build up. These feelings are known as “strain”. The people feel the “strain” of unequal distribution of wealth and power, or even of not having adequate educational opportunities open to them. Those people then come to a fork in their path. One road that they can choose is to continue to try and reach their goals by legal means, and the other road is to use alternative methods of achievements, such as theft or violence, to reach their goals. (Siegel, 2016). Robert Agnew and Heather Scheuerman provided a very easy to understand and flowing explanation of the strain theory. “Strain theories state that certain strains or stressors increase the likelihood of crime. These strains then lead to negative emotions, such as frustration and anger. These emotions create pressure for corrective action, and crime is one possible response. Crime may be used to reduce or escape from strain, seek revenge against the source of strain or related targets, or to alleviate negative emotions.” (Agnew, Scheuerman, 2015)
There are several strain theories all of which were based on the original strain theory which was developed by Emile Durkheim, a functionalist who was said to be the father of sociology.
“The roots of strain theories can be traced to Emile Durkheim’s notion of anomie (from...

... middle of paper ...

...e Cause of Crime
According to Emile Durkheim and Robert Merton’s theories of anomie there should be more crimes committed by people who are unable to achieve their ideal goals. They theory also only seems to focus on the lower classes and the strain that they face with their limited resources and ideal goals. However, what about the middle and upper classes? Do they not feel strain? Even if their ideal goals and means to achieve those goals are different they are not really taken into consideration in the theory. What about other crimes such as collar crimes, hate crime, or even gender inequity crime? This is where the General Strain Theory comes into play. Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory (GST) seems to disprove the anomie theory in a way. GST is based on the strain of an individual and their emotions, not the strain of the individual and their culture/society.

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