The Strain Theory And Rational Choice Theory Of Crime

Satisfactory Essays
Countless competing explanations of why people commit crime have been presented over the years. Social explanations recognize crime as symptom of shared social structures while individual explanations concern factors that are unique to an individual. Despite the continued development of ideas, we are yet to fully gain academic consensus as to why certain individuals’ commit crime (Merton, 1938; Agnew, R., Cullen, F., Burton Jr, V., Evans, T. and Dunaway, R. 1996; Paternoster and Simpson, 1996; Piquero et al., 2005). This paper analyses the contrasting justifications by focusing on their ability to explain white-collar crime, an illegitimate financially motivated act. This is undertaken by solely examining Strain theory and Rational choice theory. Although individual influences in crimes are of importance; they should only be recognized as an aptitude of crime rather then its cause. For that reason, a critique of these issues promotes a change by the academic community away from discussions over their success towards the development of more unifying theory building in the current economic climate.

A theoretical perspective that has been used to explain white-collar crime is rational choice theory (Paternoster and Simpson, 1996; Piquero et al., 2005). Its bases its argument on the idea that people consider their decisions prior to undertaking criminal acts, and then act in their self-interest. Emphasizing that the decision to commit a criminal offense is within the control of the individual (Quackenbush, 2004). This decision is based upon an evaluation of the associated costs and benefits of the act. In other words, the perspective presupposes that rational individuals will make the decision to commit a crime when the anticipated ...

... middle of paper ..., such as the environment, play a significant role in determining the hidden causes of criminal behavior. For that reason, although the theories discussed contradict each other, they each offer us different insights into white-collar crimes undertaken by individuals. Strain theory focuses on the widespread cultural emphases of wealth and material success. This can drive individuals and their corporation to pursue new criminal methods to advance. Rational choice guides scrutiny to an offender’s analysis regarding the benefits and costs associated. Each provides an explanation for different aspects of white-collar behaviour depending on the way a situation examined. For crimes aren’t necessarily an individual issue but a problem of society. Therefore, in order to reduce crime focus needs to be placed on changes regarding both individuals and the broader society.
Get Access