Correctional Theory: Past to Present

Correctional Theory: Past to Present

Anomie/Strain Theories of Crime Anomie and Strain Theories Challenge biologically based theories Argue internal drives and motives are not implicated in crime Rather, the motivation for crime is derived from society Societal forces pressure people to commit crime Certain phases of the social structure generate circumstances in which violation of the law constitutes a normal response Social structures exert a definite pressure upon people to engage in crime

Anomie Theories Anomie and strain theories are distinct, but related, theories Anomie theories have a macro-level focus while strain theories have a micro-level focus Anomie theories explain why some societies have higher rates of crime than others Strain theories explain why some individuals commit more crime than others Anomie Theories Mertons (1938) anomie theory Argues the U.S. places a relatively strong emphasis

on the goal of monetary success, but a weak emphasis on the legitimate norms (e.g., education, hard work) for achieving this goal The goal-seeking behavior of individuals is subject to less regulation Societies with little regulation are characterized by a sense of anomie or normlessness Free to pursue monetary success using whatever means necessary, including crime Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Anomie Theory) Most widely read article in sociology Presents both an anomie theory and a strain theory

Anomie theory focuses on why the U.S. has higher rates of crimes than others Focuses on the relative emphasis placed on cultural goals and institutionalized norms for achieving these goals Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Anomie Theory) Implicates the cultural and social structures in the explanation of crime The cultural structure consists of the goals and norms Goals: what people are supposed to achieve Involves varying degrees of prestige and sentiment In the U.S., monetary success is a major goal Norms: how people are to achieve the goals

The social structure provides people with the actual means to achieve the cultural goals In the U.S., everyone does not have the same access to legitimate means Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Anomie Theory) Emphasis on these two elements, the cultural goals and institutional norms, vary independently Excessive emphasis on the goals with little concern for the norms This gap puts a strain on the norms, and anomie ensues People then are free to use any means necessary to achieve the goals, including criminal behavior Merton focused on this disjuncture Excessive emphasis on the norms with little concern for the goals People ritualistically adhere to the norms to the point where the behavior could be obsessive Stability is maintained and change is flouted

Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Anomie Theory) Societies that have a similar emphasis on the goals and norms are integrated and relatively stable, but still allow change Successful equilibrium is maintained between the goals and the norms when satisfactions accrue to the individual from both the achievement of the goals and the process from which it was achieved Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Anomie Theory) In the U.S., there is an excessive emphasis on the cultural goal of monetary success for all while there is little emphasis on the institutional norms The goals transcend class lines and are held by everyone in society This excessive focus on the goals generates literal demoralization or a

deinstitutionalization of the institutional means to achieve a goal, which leads to anomie Anomiesense of normlessness Norms lose their power to control peoples behavior The emphasis on the culturally induced success goal becomes divorced from the coordinated institutional norms emphasis Fraud, corruption, robbery, etc., become common The end-justifies-the-means doctrine is the guiding tenet Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Anomie Theory) The lack of high integration between the means-and-end elements of the cultural pattern and the particular class structure combine to favor a heightened frequency of antisocial conduct in society

Also, legitimate means (e.g., formal education, economic resources) to achieve valued goals are often limited to certain groups There exist class differences in the accessibility of the means needed to reach these goals Thus use any means necessary (including illegitimate means) to obtain the monetary success goal Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Anomie Theory) This theory can help explain the correlations between poverty and crime When poverty is combined with limited opportunities and a commonly shared system of success symbols, there is an association between poverty and crime This is the case in the U.S.

Do not see an association between poverty and crime where there is a rigidified class structure coupled with differential class symbols of achievement Mertons Anomie Theory to Messner and Rosenfelds Institutional-Anomie Theory (IAT) Mertons anomie theory was largely ignored until the 1980s Rather his strain theory was more popular Messner and Rosenfeld drew heavily on Merton when developing institutional-anomie theory Attempt to explain why the U.S. has such high crime rates Argue the American Dreamthe emphasis on the unrestrained pursuit of monetary

success by everyoneplays an important role Messner and Rosenfelds IAT Argue the cultural emphasis on money is paralleled by an institutional structure that is dominated by the economy Other institutions (e.g., school, family, politics) are subservient to the economy Noneconomic goals are devalued Noneconomic institutions must accommodate the economy Economic norms have permeated other institutions Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream

Levels of crime in the U.S. are very high compared to other nations High rates of crime are not due to biological or moral failings Rather, high crime rates are due to the American Dream Based off Mertons theory, but extend in two ways 1. Restore the macro-level intent of Mertons anomie theory 2. Extend anomie theory by considering connections between core elements of the American Dream and other social institutions Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream

The American Dream has been highly functional in that it encourages high levels of ambition, but it also can exert a pressure for crime Anomic tendencies inherent in the American Dream both produce and are reproduced by an institutional balance of power dominated by the economy Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream The anomic tendencies of the American Dream derive from four value commitments: 1. Achievement orientation

Personal worth is evaluated on what people achieve Success is the ultimate measure of social worth Leads to pressure to achieve at any cost 2. Individualism Encouraged to make it own your own Others are seen as competition

Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream The anomic tendencies of the American Dream derive from four value commitments: 3. Universalism Everyone is encouraged to aspire to social ascent No one is exempt from the pursuit of success 4. Monetary rewards A distinctive feature of American culture is the preeminent role of money as the metric of success

A currency for measuring achievement Open-ended so there is no stopping point, which leads to never-ending achievement Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream These four value commitments encourage members of society to pursue ends limited only by expediency considerations Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream

IAT also examines the role of social institutions in society Social institutions are the building blocks of society Relatively stable sets of norms and values, statuses and roles, and groups and organizations that regulate human conduct to meet the basic needs of society Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream The main social institutions include: Economy: organize the production and distribution of goods and services Polity: mobilize and distribute power to obtain collective goals Family: maintenance and replacement of members in society Education: transmit basic cultural standards

to new generations and prepare youth for the demand of adult occupational roles Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream Functions of the different social institutions are overlapping and interdependent Thus, some coordination and cooperation among the institutions is required for societies to work However, this can also lead to conflict between the institutions In any given society, there is an institutional balance of power A distinctive arrangement of social institutions that reflect a balancing of the different institutional claims and requisites Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream

The core elements of the American Dream have their institutional underpinnings in the economy The most important feature of the U.S. economy is its capitalist nature (e.g., private ownership, free markets) Private owners of property are profit-motivated, and workers are willing to exchange labor for wages The motivation underlying this is financial returns Capitalist economies are also highly competitive Cultivates a competitive, innovative spirit Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream What is distinctive about the U.S. is the exaggerated emphasis on monetary success and unrestrained receptivity to innovation

Monetary success overwhelms all other goals and is the principal measuring rod of success Other institutions are unable to tame economic imperatives Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream Capitalism in the U.S. developed without institutional restraints Thus, the economy assumed an unusual dominance in the balance of power

This has continued and is manifested in three ways: 1. Devaluation of noneconomic functions and roles 2. Accommodation to economic requirements by other institutions 3. Penetration of economic norms into other institutional domains Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream Devaluation of noneconomic institutional functions and roles 1. Education Seen as a means to occupational attainment in the economic

system Acquisition of knowledge/learning is not valued Being a good student/teacher is not prestigious Family Homeowner, not homemaker, has prestige

Stay-at-home moms/dads have inferior status Polity Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream Accommodation of other institutions to the economy 2. Family Routines are dominated by schedules, rewards, and penalties of labor markets Employers resist family leave time

There is a necessity of paid employment to support the family Education The timing of school reflects occupational demands rather than features of the learning process People go to school to prepare for good jobs Return to school to upgrade skills

Polity Must take care to cultivate and maintain an environment hospitable to investment or risk being downgraded by financial markets Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream Penetration of economic norms into other institutional areas 3. Education Rely on grading system as extrinsic rewards, like wages, to insure compliance with goals

Individual competition for external rewards Teaching oriented toward testing Polity A bottom-line mentality develops Belief government would work better if it were run like a business Family

Language of the household: husbands and wives are partners who manage the household Huge movement of women into the workforce Rosenfeld and Messner: Crime and the American Dream Thus, the American Dream contributes to high levels of crime in two important ways: 1. Direct: through the creation of an anomic normative order (an environment in which social norms are unable to exert a strong regulatory force on members of society) 2. Indirect: contributes to an institutional balance of power that inhibits the development of strong mechanisms of external social control

Empirical Support for IAT Most studies have suggested that crime rates are lower in societies and areas that are not dominated by the economy Crime rates are lower in areas with stronger families, schools, religion, and political institutions More difficult to test the prediction that crime is higher in the U.S. due to the emphasis on the pursuit of money One study showed that people in the U.S. do not place a relatively strong emphasis on money However, a 2007 study found crime is higher in areas in the U.S. where people express a high commitment to monetary success and a low commitment to the legitimate means for achieving success Classic Strain Theory

Focuses on the micro level Explains why individuals and groups within a society are more likely to engage in crime Argues individuals are pressured into crime when prevented from achieving cultural goals through legitimate channels In the U.S., everyone is encouraged to pursue monetary success, but some are prevented from achieving that success through legitimate means Some people may respond by engaging in crime (most conform) Also presented in Mertons (1938) Social Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Strain Theory)

The gap between the cultural goals and the institutionalized means puts strain on individuals Individuals can adapt in five ways: 1. Conformity 2. Innovation 3. Ritualism 4. Retreatism 5. Rebellion People can shift from one adaptation to another as they engage in different social activities Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Strain Theory) Conformity

1. In all societies, conformity to both the goals and the means is the most common adaptation This is why stability and continuity of a society is maintained Conventional role behavior is the rule, not the exception Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Strain Theory) Innovation

2. Occurs when people still value the cultural goals but reject the institutionalized means Thus, individuals are free to obtain the goals by the most efficient means necessary, which can often be crime (e.g., stealing, prostitution, drug dealing) Often occurs in areas where there is limited opportunity Merton: Social Structure and

Anomie (Strain Theory) Ritualism 3. Occurs when people reject the cultural goals but still value the institutionalized means Gain pleasure from practicing traditional ceremonies Low expectations regarding the goals

Individual just goes through the motions Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Strain Theory) Retreatism 4. Occurs when people reject both the cultural goals and the institutionalized means Least common of the adaptations These people are in society, but not of it

Can include the activities of psychotics, psychoneurotics, tramps, vagrants, drug addicts, and alcoholics Have sense of defeatism/resignation manifested in escape mechanisms Merton: Social Structure and Anomie (Strain Theory) Rebellion 5. Occurs when people reject both the cultural goals and the institutionalized means but substitute an alternative set of goals and means

Example: become a good fighter Can include revolutionaries who seek radical change in the existing social structure Often new goals and means are in direct contrast to the conventional goals and means of mainstream society Cohens Extension to Mertons Classic Strain Theory Albert K. Cohen was a student of both Sutherland and Merton

Argued that strained individuals are unlikely to engage in crime unless they first form or join a delinquent subculture whose values are conducive to crime Cohen: Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang Provides a general explanation for the origin of deviant subcultures and applies this theory to explain the origin and content of male, working-class urban gangs Like Merton, he argues delinquency is caused by goal blockage

Unlike Merton, monetary success is not the only goal that is blocked Middle-class status (respect from others and financial success) is also blocked Cohen: Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang Argues all human behavior, including delinquency, is based on the psychogenic assumption Our behavior is an ongoing series of efforts to solve problems Seek to solve problems and not create new ones Select solutions from those established in our social groups

Cohen: Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang In order for this culture to form that has a solution to a problem, there must be effective interaction with one another and a number of actors with similar problems of adjustment Individuals in these groups come up with an innovative solution to solve these common problems Cohen: Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang In lower- and working-class areas, youths must solve the

problem of not being able to obtain middle-class status They experience status frustration Can achieve financial success through crime; however, cannot achieve other aspects of middle-class status (e.g., respect) through crime Thus, lower- and working-class boys adapt to their goal blockage by setting up an alternative status system in which they can achieve success Value everything the middle-class rejects Gain status within their subculture by being everything the middle class is not; however, they lose status with the middle class Cohen: Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang This explains higher rates of crime in the lower and working classes Working-class boys are more likely than their middle-class peers to be at the bottom of the status hierarchy when they enter a middle-class world

To the degree they value middle-class standards, they face a problem of adjustment because they do not have the resources to gain that status Thus, they are in the market for a solution to this status frustration and join delinquent subcultures that value crime and aggression Empirical Support for Classic Strain Theory Dominated the field in the 1950s and 1960s with major impacts on public policy One of the inspirations for the War on Poverty Increase the opportunities of the poor to achieve success through legitimate means

Came under attack in the late 1960s and 1970s Many studies failed to find support for the theory Tested by examining the disjuncture between expectations and aspirations Found crime highest among those with low expectations and aspirations not supporting the theory Self-report studies found delinquency not concentrated just in the lower class Empirical Support for Classic Strain Theory Recently, researchers have argued there are better ways to measure strain than the disjuncture between aspirations and expectations Using alternate and more direct measures,

this research has found some support for classic strain theory Empirical Support for Classic Strain Theory Recently, classic strain theory has been used to explain group differences in crime rates Economic deprivation is found to be a huge predictor of community differences in crime rates; however, it is only weakly related to societal differences All societies do not value economic success to the same extent Economic inequality is a strong predictor of societal differences in crime rates Especially if the inequality is due to discrimination Revisions to Classic Strain Theory

In response to the criticisms of classic strain (e.g., it cannot explain middle-class crime), several efforts have been made to revise the theory One major revision is that strain is a function of relative deprivation Ones level of strain is dependent on how much money one has relative to those in ones reference group Compare self to people around you If do not match up, can feel strain Revisions to Classic Strain Theory Another revision argues adolescents pursue a variety of goals in addition to middle-class status

These include: popularity with peers and romantic partners, athletic success, positive relations with parents, teachers, and others, good grades, etc. Thus, middle-class youth experience strain quite frequently (not just lower-class youth) Not tested adequately, but preliminary research is not promising Agnews General Strain Theory (GST) Robert Agnew significantly broadened the focus of strain theory Argued there are multiple sources of strain

Merton focused on the goal blockage of monetary success or positively valued goals through legitimate means Agnew presented more strains, distinguished between objective and subjective strains and experienced, vicarious, and anticipated strains Discussed which strains are most likely to lead to crime and why Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory People engage in crime because they

experience strains or stressors Crime is a type of corrective action people can use to cope with, reduce, or escape their strains and negative emotions (e.g., anger and frustration) associated with the strain Crime is not the only way to cope Crime is more likely when the individual lacks the ability to cope in a legal manner Do not have the verbal skills to negotiate, the costs of crime are low, etc. Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory

Strains are events or conditions that are disliked by the individual Strain results from negative relationships with others There are three major types of negative relations, which include relations that: 1.Prevent or threaten to prevent the achievement of positively valued goals 2.Remove or threaten to remove the achievement of positively valued goals 3.Present or threaten to present negatively valued stimuli Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory

Agnew discusses a variety of strains Objective strains: events and conditions are that generally disliked by most people Physical assaults, deprived of food and shelter, etc. Subjective strains: people differ in their subjective evaluations of the same events/conditions What is strongly disliked by one, may only be mildly disliked by another Influenced by peoples personality traits, goals and values, prior experiences Must look at the individual person Must look at the individuals subjective evaluation of a strain in order to determine the real relationship between crime and strain Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Agnew also focused on experienced, vicarious, and anticipated strains

Experienced: strains the individual personally endured Vicarious: strains experienced by others around the individual, especially those to whom the individual feels close (e.g., family, friends) Can upset the individual and lead to criminal coping Could be seeking revenge, trying to prevent further harm Anticipated: the individuals expectation that the current strains will continue into the future or new strains will be experienced May commit crime to try to prevent the strain from occurring Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Not all strains result in crime Strains are most likely to lead to crime when they are seen as:

1. High in magnitude 2. Unjust 3. Associated with low social control 4. Create some pressure or incentive for criminal coping Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory High in magnitude 1. More severe strains result in stronger negative emotional reactions Severity refers to the extent to which the strain is negatively evaluated

Extent to which it is disliked Creates a stronger pressure for corrective action More likely to be seen as severe if: 1. High in degree or size 2. Frequent, recent, long in duration, or expected to continue 3. Threatens the core goals, needs, and/or values of the person Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Unjust 2.

Makes individuals more angry Seen as unjust when: It involves the voluntary and intentional violation of a relevant justice norm or rule The perpetrator freely chose to treat the victim in a way he/she knew the victim would dislike Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Associated with low social control 3.

Several types of social control Direct: extent to which others set rules prohibiting crime, monitor the persons behavior, and sanction violations Emotional bond or attachment to conventional others: care what others think and do not want to let these others down Investment into conventional institutions: have time and resources invested in conventional behaviors and do not want to lose them through crime

Beliefs regarding crime: believe the laws are valid Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Associated with low social control 3. When the strain lowers the amount of social control on an individual, the person is more likely to cope criminally Examples: Parental rejection (associated with little direct control

and low emotional bonds) Unemployment (associated with low investment) Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Create pressure or incentive for criminal coping 4. Some strains easily resolved through crime and less easily resolved through legal channels Some strains expose individuals to others who model, reinforce, and teach beliefs favorable to crime

Examples: Desperate need for money (quicker to get through crime than through a job) Child abuse victims (exposed to criminal models) Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Crime is also especially likely: When individuals experience two or more strains Experience strains close together in time

This taxes the individuals coping responses Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Strains increase the likelihood of crime because: 1. Strains lead to negative emotions Anger, jealousy, frustration, depression, fear Anger found to partially mediate the effect of strain on crime

Creates pressure for corrective action Reduces perceived costs of crime Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Strains increase the likelihood of crime because: 2. Strains lead to the personality traits of negative emotionality and low constraint People with negative emotionality are easily upset and have an aggressive interactional style

Tend to act without thinking, engage in risky behavior, reject social norms Studies have found support for this Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Strains increase the likelihood of crime because: 3. Strains may reduce levels of social control Many strains involve negative treatment by conventional others

Strains are often chronic and occur on a repeated basis This reduces ones emotional bond to others, reduces investment in conventional activities, reduces direct control, and reduces a persons belief in the law Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Strains increase the likelihood of crime because: 4. Strains may foster the social learning of crime Increases the likelihood that individuals will join or form criminal groups

The members of these groups model, reinforce, and teach criminal behaviors Increases the appeal of criminal groups Increases the likelihood that a person views crime as desirable or justifiable Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Not all people cope with strains through crime, and

most cope in a legal manner Criminal coping is most likely when: 1. Individuals lack the ability to cope with strains in a legal manner Due to individual traits, resources, and social support 2. The costs of criminal coping are low Low probability for sanctions, nothing to lose, procriminal beliefs 3. Individuals are disposed to crime Personality traits, believe crime is appropriate, associate with criminal others Agnew: Pressured Into Crime:

General Strain Theory Policy implications Eliminate strains conducive to crime Alter strains to make them less conducive to crime Remove individuals from strains conducive to crime Equip individuals with the traits and skills to avoid strains conducive to crime Alter the perceptions and goals of individuals to reduce subjective strains Agnew: Pressured Into Crime: General Strain Theory Strategies for reducing the likelihood that individuals will respond to strains with crime include: Improving conventional coping skills and resources

Increasing social support Increasing social control Reducing associations with delinquent peers and beliefs favorable to crime Empirical Support for GST Some support has been found for GST Delinquency is higher among individuals experiencing a variety of negative life events and various relational problems Strain more likely to lead to crime among individuals with negative emotionality and low constraint Summary Strain and anomie theories focus on how social influences pressure individuals into crime

Anomie focuses on the macro-level, while strain focuses on the micro-level Anomie theory has seen a resurgence with Messner and Rosenfelds Institutional-Anomie Theory Strain theory has seen a resurgence with Agnews General Strain Theory Overall, there is some empirical support for both the anomie and strain theories

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