Structural Strain Theory And Its Effects On Society Essay

885 Words Nov 30th, 2016 4 Pages
People have always wondered what causes crime. Ever since the appearance of philosophy there have been other theories of what can push human beings to commit criminal acts. It was not until the appearance of sociology as a science that people have begun to study crime scientifically and to design complex theories as to what may cause this behavior. Often time’s socio-economic status is quoted as a potential reason for crime. There are several major theories of crime, but strain theory is one of the most commonly used for explaining crime with the help of a socio-economic element. There are several strain theories but the most important are Robert K. Merton’s original strain theory and Robert Agnew’s general strain theory.
Strain theory started in Emil Durkheim’s anomie theory. In 1897 Durkheim said that as societies progressed and transition from lawlessness to enforced law, strain would appear as a result from the inadequate regulation of society (O’Connor, 1). Structural strain is caused by inadequate regulation on the society level that influences an individual to perceive her or his needs differently. Individual strain occurs when the individual searches for ways to accomplish her or his needs (Orcutt, 1).
Durkheim’s theory of anomie was the starting point for Robert K. Merton’s strain theory. Merton rejected Durkheim’s claims that strain resulted from a breakdown in societal structure, and actually theorized that present societies are stable. Instead Merton focused on…

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