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Assessment of Criminological Theories Essay

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2019

Assessing why people commit crime is essential in developing mechanisms for handling and preventing crime. Criminologists explore different theories, as they try to find the most appropriate methods of reducing rates and categories of crime.

Notably, criminal justice administrations use theories to explain the causes and nature of crime that commonly face the community. Experts depend on deviance theory and strain theory to explain causes of civil unrest and develop intervention plans (Barlow and Decker, 2010).

The Watts incidence of 1965 that raged for six days spurred when Lee W. Minikus arrested a young African American motorist. Reports indicate that the people engaged in riot as an expression of displeasure with the quality of services they had been obtaining from the government (Watts Riots, 2013).

The strain theory explains the causes and appropriate solutions for such problems. The theory is essential in assisting police administrations to manage crime rates. It is founded on the idea that some social structures can make people to take part in unlawful activities.

Moreover, the theory implies that majority of people who have encountered very serious difficulties while attempting to satisfy the expectations of the society usually choose to commit crime. They commit crime through any means possible without consideration of the legitimacy of the means used.

This confirms the opinion that certain individuals commit crime if they lose their sense of purpose or when they consider being isolated by the community as too cruel to accept. However, the negative feeling is commonly caused by lack of values in the person.

Experts also say that certain individuals commit crime when they undergo the strain experience within their environment. For example, in the nineteenth century several African Americans were arrested engaging in different forms of crime due to social pressure.

During the nineteenth century, the political world had adopted several fundamental leadership transformations and that led to escalation of hope among the group.

However, their lives did not change. Most of them chose to commit crime to improve their living standards and be accepted in the society (Barlow and Decker, 2010).The stain theory explains the causes of such crimes.

Remarkably, the theory can be assessed via two main features, namely, functional and structural features. The structural feature emphasizes on the mode in which things operate. Criminal investigation officers depend on it to assess the nature of criminal occurrences and the processes involved in committing offenses.

They also look at the connection between the features and the degree of interdependence of all the variances. The functional feature is based on the principle that most structural features are components of an entire social arrangement.

Social systems work together to support all functional aspects, yet when some of them fail, participants experience strain. If the people are affected by the strain for long, probabilities are that the attempts to create an impressive social system could be unsuccessful.

The society may create social problems when it gives more attention to winners rather than rewarding all participants in a competition.

This creates a situation in which the society does not have a clear-cut formula of defining what success is. The failure to reach consensus on methodologies of defining what is regarded as cultural chaos (McCluskey, 2002).

Another essential example is deviance theory. It states that people in the neighborhood influence actions of juveniles. The theory provides information on criminal subculture aspects that are useful in managing certain social issues. The theory states that youthful criminals usually engage in crime for pleasure.

The theory also provides other methods of analyzing levels of maliciousness in the actions of social deviants. The individuals usually have interests in causing trouble and should be helped to overcome the desire to cause trouble.

In addition, delinquent subcultures have several elements of negativism. The groups commonly tend to negate the role of other cultures, since they perceive their defiance as the acceptable social norm (Kaplan and Johnson, 2001)).

Additionally, the theory states that certain groups commit crime because they seek immediate self-gratification. The groups find pleasure in taking actions that they view as pleasurable without giving much thought to the standard social requirements (Crossman, n. d.).

Delinquent boys are commonly frustrated with norms of the middle class. They, therefore, rebel against their leadership by engaging in crime, as they deem such actions gratifying. By appreciating the characteristics of different cultures, it is easier to handle certain social issues.

Outstandingly, police administrations can use these theories to prepare their response for social unrests. For example, they can use the deviance theory to learn about the behavior of school students and take appropriate action to avoid unrest. The theory stipulates that the surrounding commonly influence the behavior of young people.

It therefore offers the officers the opportunity to understand characteristics of different cultures and be prepared solve certain social issues. The officers can advice and prepare to act as soon as they learn that criminal activities are being committed in their neighborhood. The officers can use the strain theory to solve social problems.

The latter theory affirms that individuals engage in criminal activities when they have done their best to meet the expectations of the society but failed. The officers can depend on it to identify stressed individuals and educate them on their roles in the society. When such individual are inspired, they gain strength to do the right things.

Law enforcement officers with understanding of the theory can offer essential services to the community when the economy is under-performing. Civic disturbances related to the strain theory are common among the middle and low-income earners.

Plan of Action Relating to Civil Disturbances and Protests

This plan of action handles problems described by deviance and strain theories.

  • Employing experts to educate the society is essential in fighting protest arising due to ignorance
  • To solve strain theory related problems, the officers should realize that all people encounter certain levels of constraints in life
  • Encourage people to talk about their feelings of constraints
  • The officers should support and advice young people to reduce their level of feeling constraints to minimum
  • Educate adults to engage in productive economic activities
  • Encourage the community to show love to people who have committed crimes in the past
  • The officers should plan to overcome civic disturbances by showing appreciation for the concerns of the aggrieved parties.
  • To solve problems related to deviance problems effectively, the officers should understand that many of the social problems falling under this category are common among young people
  • They should learn the culture of the surrounding environments, which have influence on the actions of all the parties and encourage youths to maintain positive cultures.
  • They should educate them to make independent decisions
  • They should encourage building of recreational faculties
  • They should support youths to engage in productive activities to help them use their energy productively.
  • The officers ought to plan to maintain law and order whenever young people are free and engage in leisure activities for many days.
  • They should be role models and encourage the group to make decisions responsibly.


Barlow, H. D. & Decker, S. H. (2010). Criminology and Public Policy Putting Theory to Work. Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press.

Crossman, A. (n.d.). Biological Explanations of Deviant Behavior. Sociology – Sociology Information, Resources, and News from About.com.. Retrieved from

Kaplan, H. B. & Johnson, R. J. (2001). Social Deviance: Testing a General Theory. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

McCluskey, C. P. (2002). Understanding Latino Delinquency the Applicability of Strain Theory by Ethnicity. New York: LFB Scholarly Pub.

Watts Riots. (1201, January 1). Welcome to the Civil Rights Digital Library. Retrieved from

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