Anomie and General Strain Theories of Crime

Anomie/Strain Theory Historical Background
The theoretical framework of strain theory can be credited to sociologist Emile Durkheim. Durkheim research on formed a platform for other sociologist to further develop strain theories of crime. One of which is Robert Merton. One of Durkheim’s major works that opened the door to further research on strain theories was his book, Suicide. In this book Durkheim sough to understand the why led to one’s own self-destruction. Emile Durkheim studied suicide rates and its association with crisis. Durkheim noticed trends in suicide rates that were associated with economic prosperity and economic crisis.
“According to Durkheim, the state of normlessness that people find themselves in as a result of a crisis is referred to as anomie.” (Paternoster, Bachman, 2001, p.142) Anomie occurs when one is put in an uncomfortable position because of goals not being met. Anomie can occur during times of financial crisis, death, or family crisis. Durkheim also looked at the difference in suicide rates amongst Catholics and Protestants. He found that suicide rates were higher amongst Protestants than Catholics. In Durkheim’s finding in studying suicide rates he came up with a model for anomie/strain. His model says that strain causes anomie, which in turn causes an individual to want to commit suicide or other deviant acts.
Development of Anomie Strain Theory
Sociologist Robert K. Merton picked up on Durkheim’s concepts of anomie and strain to develop his own perspective. He is most credited for the development of this theory. Merton based his version of the theory on the fact that American society puts its value in material wealth and that all people should strive to attain material wealth. “In Merton’s view, A...

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Works Cited

Paternoster, Raymond and Ronet Bachman. 2001. “Introduction to Anomie/Strain Theories of Crime” in Paternoster and Bachman (Eds.) Explaining Criminals and Crime. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.

Merton, Robert 1938. "Social Structure and Anomie" American Sociological Review 2: 672-682.

Messner, Steven F. and Richard Rosenfeld. 2001. "An Institutional-Anomie Theory of Crime" in Paternoster and Bachman(Eds.) Explaining Criminals and Crime. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.

Agnew, Robert. 2001. "An Overview of General Strain Theory" ” In Paternoster and Bachman (Eds.) Explaining Criminals and Crime. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.

Agnew, Robert 1992. "Foundation for a General Strain Theory of Crime and Delinquency" in Criminology 30(1): 47-87.

Burton, Velmer S. and Francis T. Cullen. 1992. "The Empirical Status of Strain Theory" Journal of Crime and Justice 15:1-30
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