Access to Opportunity Structures in Causing Crime and Deviance

640 Words May 2nd, 2012 3 Pages
There are many different factors that have to be considered when examining the role of access to opportunity structures in causing crime and deviance. Merton’s ‘Strain theory and anomie’ argues that deviance arises from the structure of society and that unequal access to legitimate opportunity structures is the cause of deviant behaviour. The main point that Merton’s theory outlines is the fact that people engage in deviant behaviour because they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means, and when most people share similar goals for example financial success in an unequal society not all individuals have the opportunity to realise those goals by approved means, therefore they feel different, as the dominant rules how …show more content…
Members are not motivated by money success initially as a form of gratification and exhibit great loyalty to each other.

However, Cloward and Ohlin criticise Cohen’s cultural explanation of crime. In particular, his failure to explain the variety of sub cultural forms that emerge out of the social structure, they maintain that the form working class creates subcultures depends on access to criminal networks. Criminal subcultures emerge when working class youths have access to criminal networks. The focus of their deviance is on material crimes such as burglary. Conflict subcultures emerge when working class youths lack access to criminal networks but live in an environment which values defence of territory and violence. The focus of their deviance is gang related ‘warfare’ and Retreatist subcultures emerge when working class youths are denied access to criminal or conflict subcultures. The focus of their deviance is on alcohol and drug abuse.

In conclusion, even though all of these theories provide evidence for the role of opportunity structures in causing crime and deviance, being the unequal access to legitimate structures and the access of illegitimate structures leading towards criminal and deviant behaviour. It can be argued that access to opportunity structures do not fully explain causes for all…