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Proposed Theories And Approaches Surrounding The True Nature Of Crime

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There are a number of proposed theories and approaches surrounding the true nature of crime and what drives criminals to act in the ways that they do. From approaches based around philosophy to those with origins in biology, sociology and psychology, there is yet to be a completely provable explanation for the motivations behind criminal behaviour. The case of 41 year old Alfred is a prime example of this as his case shows aspects of a number of different theories. The sociologically based strain theory first proposed by Émile Durkheim and furthered by Robert Agnew in 1992, and the ‘general theory of crime’ proposed by criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi in 1990 are both strongly demonstrated within the case. Both…show more content…
Agnew recognised that Merton’s theory was limited in regards to the full conceptualisation of possible sources of strain, particularly in cases involving youth. Whilst Merton focussed primarily on financial strain as a motivator for the committing of crimes, Agnew whilst agreeing with this, further suggested that negative experiences, not necessarily relevant to financial problems, also have the potential to lead to strain resulting in criminal behaviour. Agnew (1992) states that the strain theory is written on a social-psychological level, with its main focus on the individual and their immediate social environment. In his research entitled ‘Foundation for a General Strain Theory of Crime and Delinquency’, Agnew distinguished strain theory from differential association/social learning theory and social control surmising that “strain theory is distinguished from social control and social learning theory in its specification of (1) the type of social relationship that leads to delinquency and (2) the motivation for delinquency” (Agnew, 1992). Agnew posited that whilst social control theory focuses on the “absence of significant relationships with conventional others and institutions”, strain theory focuses explicitly on negative relationships with others and that individuals are “pressured into delinquency by the negative affective states-most notably anger and related emotions that often result from negative relationships” (Agnew, 1992). Agnew
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