Merton's Strain Theory Essay

Merton's Strain Theory Essay

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In Merton’s (1938) strain theory social structures account for the criminal tendencies found in offenders. Individuals adjust to societal pressures in five distinct ways. Adaptation I, which entails conforming to both culture norms and means, is the most common. The popularity of this adaptation allows a society to function effectively. In contrast, adaptation IV is the least common and gives rise to the rejection of both cultural goals and means. Those that adopt this culture pattern are societal misfits and usually include some such persons as psychotics, psychoneurotics, chronic autists, vagrants, and chronic drunkards or drug addicts.
Sykes and Matza’s (1957) control theory postulates that acts of delinquency are generally not approved of even by the delinquents who commit such crimes. First, they don’t believe their crimes are “right”. Instead, they often show remorse or guilt when faced with the consequences of their crimes. Moreover, this show of shame shouldn’t be completely attributed to deception to pacify authorities.
Second, delinquents do have respect for law-abiding citizens (Sykes and Matza, 1957). Often if a delinquent’s offenses are shared with law-abiding people that they look up to or sports heroes perhaps they will show deep remorse. Therefore, delinquents do not hold a set of values that are in contrast with cultural norms. Sykes and Matza (1957) describe two more points, but in light of the two given here there is evidence that delinquency is not the creation of a sub-culture, because a society of those who conform cannot be overlooked.
Instead, delinquent acts are internally justified despite their repugnance to the legal system and the rest of society (Sykes and Matza, 1957). There ...


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In sum, Rosenfeld and Messner (1995), Bonger (1969), and Currie (1997) give examples of how materialism is destroying the lives of US citizens. Materialism is not a facet of liberal or conservative thought (Galston, 1991; Kirk, 1987). Moreover, in both Galston (1991) and Kirk’s (1987) articles there was no attack on capitalism and the market economy. However, the liberal idea of the need for social programs was propounded by Currie (1997), which is counter to conservative ideals. Currie (1997) also showed the need to debunk the conservative “myth” that there must always be inequalities in society. Besides these points these criminologists are really attacking capitalism and are not on a liberal or conservative platform. Furthermore, Chesney-Lind (1989) doesn’t delve into the government’s political structure based on liberal or conservative views.

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