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Discussion on : Theoretical Dimensions Involving Criminal Behavior.

Provide a 5 pages analysis while answering the following question: Theoretical Dimensions Involving Criminal Behavior. Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide. An abstract is required. Merton used Durkheim’s views to further explain deviance and criminal behavior. In order to further explain deviance, Merton explained the interaction between culture, structure, and anomie. He defined culture as an “organized set of normative values governing behavior which is common to members of a designated society or group.” Social structures are the “organized set of social relationships in which members of the society or group are variously implicated.” Anomie, the state of normlessness, arises when there is “an acute disjunction between the cultural norms and goals and the socially structured capacities of members of the group to act in accord with them.” (Merton, 1968) Merton then links all the three concepts and believes that discontinuities between culture and structure cause deviance. If Merton’s theory would be applied to the social context at present, an example we can use is the common belief that crimes increase in times of economic crisis. People have certain cultural practices, and these practices are supported by the structure (government and economy). Once the structure breaks down, like in an economic crisis, the people would have to adjust their practices. Those who cannot adjust to the new structure, or those who do not want to adjust, tend to do crimes. It’s like a person who steals money from the bank so that he or she can buy food and other basic needs. Robert Agnew further explained Merton’s theory, believing that a theory should not be tied to social class or culture. He popularized the general strain theory, which focused more on an individual’s immediate social environment. He argued that an individual’s actual or anticipated failure to achieve positively valued goals, actual or anticipated removal of positively valued behavior and actual or anticipated presentation of negative behavior all result in strain. For example, if an individual fails to get the kind of attention that he or she expects from others, then that would cause that individual to feel bad about other people. These situations are more common among children, and if this kind of feeling builds up, then that individual can, later on, commit a crime.

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