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Crime Theory - Essay Example

The theories of Differential Association and Strain posited by Edwin Sutherland and Robert Agnew respectively, explains with clarity the source of an individual's criminal problem and factors that are vital to understand his criminal behavior. A perfect understanding of Jimmy's criminal behavior, would enable specific recommendations to be made to deter him quit delinquency.
Edwin Sutherland explains why any individual gravitates toward criminal behavior. (Sutherland, 1937) He argues that criminal behaviors are learned in the same way that all other behaviors are learned. Criminals learn criminal deviant behaviors such as motives, drives, rationalizations and attitudes. Deviance is not inherently a part of a particular individual's nature.
Further, he asserts a person's association with others who are delinquent will increase the likelihood of becoming and remaining delinquent. (Sutherland, 1974) In this view, peers can be crucial role models for the development of values and beliefs favorable to law violation. Though he agrees that strain has a part to play, he does not seek to know why people become criminals. From the foregoing, and in relation with the case in issue, his assumption on the one hand will be that the source of Jimmy's trouble is association; peer influence. This is evident with Jimmy's association with Bill in which he looks up to him. (Sutherland, 1974) He claims that incidents between Jimmy's mother and father and the strain that produced a negative relationship with his mother, are irrelevant when considering the source of his problem. As per his assumption, for example, although Jimmy had strain; a negative relationship in his house, he would not have been involved in the troubles he is involved in if he had no association with a person who has a deviant behavior and influence over him; (Bill). Therefore, even if strain; negative relationship was absent in Jimmy's home, he would have still had the problems he has since he had an association with Bill who has a deviant behavior. (Sutherland 1937)
Robert Agnew's disposition is that strain is the central in explaining the source of Jimmy's troubles. (Agnew, 1992) His emotions and immediate social environment has a lot to determine the source of his troubles. Strain emerges from negative relationships with others. If individuals are not treated in the way that they expect or want to be treated, they will lose their belief in the role others play for realizing expectations. Agnew, (1992) Anger and frustration confirm negative relationships and may persuade any individual to adopt deviant behavior. This will often involve more unilateral action because there will be a natural desire to avoid unpleasant rejections, confirming more general separation. Thus, Robert Agnew assumption in this case will be that the source of Jimmy's troubles are as a result of strain in the form of Anger accumulated due to incidents that occurred in his home from when he was 7 years old, strain developed because of negative relationship with his mother, and neglect his mother. She was always hostile when at home and berated him as worthless.
Moreover, in an attempt to determine the factors in Jimmy's life that are important to understand his behavior Edwin Sutherland will dwell on what he termed peer influences among deviant ...Show more


This paper on crime theory has illustrated the extent to which the theory of Sutherland: differential association; through environmental, peer influence, and strain theory by Robert Agnew can prove the sources of criminal troubles of Jimmy and factors that may be important in his history to understand the reason for his criminal behavior…
Author : darrel54
Crime Theory essay example
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