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Strengths And Weaknesses Of Crime Essay

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This essay will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of sociological explanations of crimes with links to Durkheim’s anomie theory, Merton’s strain theory and the Labelling theory which will draw upon different academics that will highlight these specific areas of research. In sociological terms, crime is a social concept as it does not exist as an autonomous entity, but it is socially constructed by people. It can be analysed that sociological explanations of crime attribute deviance to various aspects of the social environment. For example, crime is strongly related to modern city life where this type of social environment creates cultural enclaves which results in producing criminal or deviant behaviour (Carrabine et al, 2014).
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For example, Merton was influenced over his work and continued to develop the concept of ‘anomie’ in his work relating to the social upheaval that occurred in USA (Burke, 2005, p.99). Smith also argues that the following insights in criminology do have their origins in Durkheim’s work as ‘deviance is, in part, the product of weak moral integration and poor social regulation’ and that ‘social change, such as the transition to modernity, can often generate anomie and with this an increase in the levels of crime.’ (2008)
However, an underlying weakness of Durkheim is that his theory basically assumes individuals do not have a choice over their actions as their lives are predestined because of the social conditions in which they live in (Burke, 2005, p.127). This implies that there is no scientific evidence and therefore impossible to locate any acceptable mechanism to explain social change which has led to his work being dismissed methodically (Ronald, 1991). Therefore, Merton’s theory is not just denying any reason for social change, but it could create the assumption that deviance behaviour is more common in lower class where individuals live in poor social environments so are ultimately prone to take the path of crime.
Merton further developed the concept of ‘anomie’ to describe an imbalance between cultural goals and institutionalised means. He believed that ‘anomie’ was the result from the absence of alignment between people’s socially desired aspirations, such as
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