Theories of Crime

Essay by cpaton September 2008

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Why do people commit crime? This is relatively strong topic discussed by sociologists that believe criminal or deviant behaviors are not because of ones physical characteristic. This essay will mainly focus on the Functionalist and Conflict Theories of crime. Conflict theorist argue that deviance is deliberately chosen, and often political in nature, where as Functionalist theorist argue that deviance and crime is caused by structural tensions created by social structure. Functionalists argue that people commit crimes because there is something wrong with the society the individual is in, and that this is what causes the individual to commit crime. Crime is caused by the structure of society. Conflict theorists argue that the criminal makes a choice to commit a crime ''in response to inequalities of the capitalist system'' (Giddens, 2001).

Subcultural functionalist, Albert Cohen, bases his research on the lower classes. Through his research Cohen found that the lower class adolescents were disadvantaged in respect to success in general life.

Cohen believed that the lower class were disadvantaged before they even started to achieve. Cohen argued, majority of the lower class children, do not start at the same position as the middle class. Because of this situation, Cohen thought that lower classes children suffered from status frustration (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Due to this lower class children's annoyance with their position within society, Cohen developed the theory that the lower class child would develop or form into a sub-culture where "delinquent subculture takes its norms from the larger culture but turns them upside down" (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Due to the subculture creating goals, by the delinquent, as unattainable within society, Cohen argued that this is a cause of deviance and crime.

Basically, with Cohens theory, it is mostly based namely on lower class position. Unfortunately, this only recognises that...