Strain vs Control Theory

674 Words3 Pages
Strain Theory vs. Control Theory Sociologists have often wondered why people commit crime. The Strain and Control theories have both linked crime with conformism, however, in opposite ways. Strain theory says that “all Americans have the same cultural goals linked to both material achievement and social status, but not all Americans have the equal means to achieve these goals.” However, the Control theory contrasted Strain by saying that people committed crimes when they strayed from conformism. Which one is accurate, behind the reason of people committing crime? According to this theory, there are “institutional arrangements that provide for success”, and they include family, religion, economy, education and politics (notes). This theory viewed America as a highly competitive society in which the less fortunate are left behind. Strain is felt because they lack equal opportunity and so they adapt to this reality in illegal ways, such as drug dealing, stealing and gangs. These individuals felt pressure from their society to conform to certain ideals and that is what drove them to become criminals. Stress stems from the world trying to reach the “American Dream”. For the poor, it is rather like a nightmare, according to the Strain theory. “Poor people are not taught to be satisfied with their life but rather are instructed to pursue the American dream; through hard work, it is said, even the lowliest among us can rise from rags to riches”. These ambitions have consequences for the poor because “the social structure limits access to the goal of success through legitimate means (e.g., college education, corporate employment, family connections)” (53). Therefore, crime is a way of life for many Americans because it helps them reach the American dream. They chase after a dream that seems impossible to attain. Control theory believed that all of this deviation can be
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