Anomie and Strain Theory in Criminology

Anomie and Strain Theory in Criminology

Theorists who prefer economic determinism are eager to focus on inequality; in particular, they view economic inequality as associated with criminality.

Emile Durkheim did not consider inequality a natural and inevitable human condition. It does not cause crime unless there is a total breakdown of social norms and values.

Durkheim called such a breakdown anomie and argued that French society had encountered a catastrophic situation due to rapid social change generated by the French Revolution and extensive industrialization.

The theories of Durkheim, like Lombroso’s, were partially a reaction to the classical proposition that humans were free and rational within the structure of a society founded on a contract.

The difference is that Lombroso pinpointed how physiological and other factors determined human behavior, but Durkheim dissected social organization and development.

Emile Durkheim: Pioneer of Social Solidarity and Anomie

Emile Durkheim was one of the major social thinkers of the nineteenth century who developed a very different insight into the dynamics of social change and its consequences on social order.

He has been called “one of the best-known and one of the least understood major social thinkers.”

It does not seem easy to present his thoughts. Some ideas about the political and intellectual environment in which he developed his theories will be conducive to retelling his concept.

The aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789 and the rapid industrialization of French society caused great instability in nineteenth-century French society. In response to the effects of these two revolutions, sociology was developed by Auguste Comte in the first half of the century.

He was vocal about constructing a rational society on the residues of traditional society.

Sociologists analyzed the titanic social change that took place in French society and ushered in the establishment of social solidarity. Disintegrated French society required some way out to step into a stable social order.

Emile Durkheim was born in 1858 in a small French town and completed his studies in Paris. In different provinces of France, he taught Philosophy at various secondary schools.

He then studied social science and its relation to ethics in Germany. These studies led him to write two good articles, and those publications made a special position for him at the University of Bordeaux.

There, he started teaching sociology in 1887. The University of Paris awarded a doctorate in sociology to Durkheim in 1892, where he continued teaching sociology until his death in 1917.

Durkheim’s Vision of Society: From Mechanical to Organic

In his doctoral thesis, Durkheim visualized the processes of social change during industrialization. This was published in 1893 under the title “The Division of Labor.”

Durkheim described how the more primitive “mechanical” form of society transformed into the more advanced “organic” form. In the mechanical form, each social group is characterized as a self-sufficient unit relatively isolated from other social groups.

The lives of the people of these social groups are homogeneous, and they do identical work and contain identical values. There is little division of labor, and the solidarity of the society emanates from their uniformity.

Organic society is the reverse of a mechanical society. A huge division of labor characterizes the organic society. As this society is stratified into different segments, diversity becomes normal due to the heterogeneous character of this society.

“Durkheim saw all societies as being in some stage of progression between the mechanical and the organic structures, with no society being totally one or the other.” Even the most primitive societies possessed some sort of division of labor, and even the most advanced societies needed some degree of uniformity for their smooth functioning.

Law becomes an integral part of both societies and maintains social solidarity in very different ways. Law operates in a way to ensure the uniformity of the members in a mechanical society.

The legal mechanism represses any deviation from social norms. The responsibility of law in the organic society is to regulate the interaction of different segments of society.

The Normalcy of Crime and the Concept of Anomie

Two types of societies encounter crimes differently; crime is normal in a mechanical society, without which society would be over-controlled.

Society transforms from a mechanical to an organic state, generating a variety of social maladies, including crime. In 1895, Durkheim published his second major work, ‘The Rules of the Sociological Method,’ and described ‘crime as normal.’ In 1897, he published his most famous work, “Suicide,” and in this book, he elaborated on his unique thought, “anomie.”

In Mechanical Societies, Crime Is Normal

Uniformity of lives, works, and beliefs of the members is the main characteristic of mechanical societies. All these uniformities are called the “totality of social likeness.”

In the language of Durkheim, this is designated as the ‘collective conscience.’ Every society requires some degree of uniformity for its continuance and also encounters some sort of diversity because some people differ from the collective conscience.

The pressure for uniformity exerted against this diversity is the main stimulus for keeping solidarity in a mechanical society. Such pressure is exercised in different forms. Its extreme form is criminal sanctions, and weaker forms consist of reproach for morally reprehensible activities.

If I do not submit to the conventions of society, if in my dress I do not conform to the customs observed in my country and my class, the ridicule I provoke, the social isolation in which I am kept, produce, although in an attenuated form, the same effects as punishment in the strict sense of the word. The constraint is nonetheless efficacious for being indirect.

The formation and continuance of society cannot be made, as argued by Durkheim, without costly sacrifices by the societal people. These sacrifices are the price of membership in a society and constitute the collective conscience. These sacrifices cause the development of a sense of collective identity, placing social solidarity on a firm footing.

But in every society, there are some people who deviate from the collective conscience. The people conforming to the collective conscience develop a sense of superiority and identify themselves as righteous.

The people who violate the collective conscience are considered morally reprehensible. Durkheim pointed out this sense of superiority, goodness, and righteousness as the major source of superiority.

Durkheim argued how the existence of criminals is conducive to the maintenance of social solidarity, as the majority of people consider them superior and righteous because of the delinquent activities of criminals. In this way, criminals, and also the fear of punishment, play a very important role in the maintenance of social solidarity.

In the case of transgression of the collective conscience, the violators are severely punished not for retribution or deterrence, but otherwise, the people sacrificing and conforming to the collective conscience will be demoralized.

Durkheim maintained that crime is normal in a mechanical society as there is no clearly marked difference between criminal activities and those which are morally reprehensible.

If traditional criminal activities decrease, morally reprehensible activities will be designated as crimes. If morally blameworthy activities decrease, less morally reprehensible activities will be elevated into the crime category. This is so because criminal sanctions, Durkheim argued, are the strongest machinery to maintain social solidarity.

As Durkheim put it: “Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will there be unknown; but faults which appear venial to the layman will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousness. If, then, this society has the power to judge and punish, it will define these acts as criminal and will treat them as such. For the same reason, the perfect and upright man judges his smallest failings with a severity that the majority reserve for acts more truly in the nature of an offense.”

Durkheim viewed, therefore, a society without crime as impossible. New behavior will be designated as a crime if the crimes defined by the Penal Code no longer occur

So, crime exists forever and is inevitable because, in every society, some people behave differently from the collective pattern.

If no crime happens, that is the abnormal or pathological state of society where the collective conscience is so rigid that none can oppose it.

In this situation, crime will be eliminated, but the possibility of progressive social change will be foreclosed. In all societies, progressive change takes place when the collective conscience is challenged and defeated.

The people who challenge the collective conscience are declared criminals by the people having the responsibility to preserve the collective conscience.

Thus, Socrates, Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, and George Washington were declared criminals by the then-social authority, holding the reins of control. This crime is the price, Durkheim argued, that society pays for the possibility of advancement, as a mistake is the price paid for the possibility of personal development.

To Durkheim, there is no human society that is free from the problem of crime. Every society has some rules and provides sanctions, which are violated by people deviating from the collective conscience.

Crime, therefore, is a normal feature of every society, and provided it does not exceed certain levels, the society is healthy. According to Durkheim, a healthy level of crime is found in simple and mechanical societies.

Anomie in Organic Societies

Title: The Shift from Mechanical to Organic Solidarity and its Impact on Crime

In a mechanical society, solidarity emanates from the pressure of its members to conform to the collective conscience against the diversity of its members. Placing some behavior in the crime category is normal and inevitable for keeping social solidarity intact.

But in an organic society, the function of law is to regulate the interactions of various people in society belonging to different professions. Inadequate regulation of the law can cause social mischief, including crime. Durkheim called the state of inadequate regulation anomie.

Durkheim, in his “The Division of Labor,” argued that the industrialization of French society resulted in a high division of labor, which destroyed the uniformity and solidarity of traditional French society. However, industrialization had been so rapid that society failed to develop sufficient tools to regulate interactions among its members.

Overproduction was followed by economic slowdown, and strikes and labor violence became frequent. This reality indicated that the relations between producers and consumers and between workers and employers were ineffectively regulated. The high division of labor caused significant alienation among the people of society.

An organic society is more likely to experience unhealthy levels of criminality if the law cannot regulate the interactions of the different parts of society. Anomie arises out of incomplete integration, which gives rise to excessive crimes. Durkheim mentioned a large number of examples, which could be classified into three categories.

The first was a combination of financial crisis and industrial conflict. The second was a rigid division of labor, in which the oppressed might rebel. The third was an abnormal division of labor, where workers were alienated and disinterested in their jobs.

Change of norms, confusion, and weakened social control are the basic features of modern urban-industrial societies, where individualism is increasing, thus increasing the possibility of deviant behavior.

In a traditional mechanical society, the social bond is strong, and individual aspirations are effectively controlled by the society, leading to a more balanced state of crime.

In an organic society, on the other hand, individual desires are not sufficiently regulated, which gives rise to social maladies, including an increased number of crimes. In the language of Sue Titus Reid: “As societies become larger and more complex, the emphasis in law shifts from the collective conscience to the individual wronged, and law becomes restitutive.”

This shift from mechanical to organic solidarity is characterized by an increased need for the division of labor, a division that may be forced and therefore abnormal, leading to the creation of unnatural differences in class and status.

People are less homogenous, and the traditional forms of social control, appropriate to a simple homogenous society, are not effective in controlling behavior.

Greater loneliness, more social isolation, and a loss of identity result, with a consequent state of anomie, or normlessness, replacing the former state of solidarity and providing an atmosphere in which crimes and other antisocial acts may develop and flourish.”

Anomie and Suicide

Durkheim published his most famous work, ‘Le Suicide,’ in 1892, where he elaborated and generalized his notion of anomie. Durkheim maintained that human desire is unlimited, and only social rules and values can limit human appetites.

Anomie During Rapid Social Change

During rapid social change, social rules weaken and sometimes break down when some people cannot understand how to adapt to the changed situation. Durkheim depicted how the industrial revolution destroyed the structure of tradition-bound French society, creating a chronic state of anomie.

Types of Suicide

Durkheim explained his idea of anomie in a discussion of suicide, not of crime. He mentioned several types of suicide, such as altruistic suicide (selfless suicide), egoistic suicide (self-centered suicide), and anomic suicide. It is the concept of anomic suicide that contributed to the development of criminological study.

Economic Factors and Anomie

Referring to statistical data, he found that suicide rates increased during economic prosperity and economic slumps. Rapid social change creates unfamiliar situations for individuals where rules no longer guide them, leading to confusion about how to behave.

Anomie during Economic Prosperity and Depression

In October 1929, the New York stock market crashed, leading to a severe economic depression that spread throughout the USA and the world, creating immeasurable hardships for many.

Banks failed, mortgages were foreclosed, businesses went bankrupt, and people lost their jobs. Lifestyles changed overnight, and many people were driven to sell apples on street corners to survive, standing in mile-long breadlines to feed their families.

The Role of Sudden Social Change

Suddenly, the norms by which people lived were no longer relevant, causing them to become disoriented and confused, resulting in a rise in suicide rates. It is not difficult to understand the rise of suicide during an economic depression.

But why does it increase during economic prosperity?

In both situations, according to Durkheim, the same factor, sudden social change, is in action. Durkheim believed that human desires are unlimited, and nature does not put any restrictions on these desires. Society, therefore, developed social rules to control human aspirations.

However, with sudden changes, whether in prosperity or depression, social regulation breaks down, leading to anomie and an increase in suicide rates.

Evaluating Durkheim’s Theory

In the context of social transformation from a mechanical to an organic form, Durkheim formulated his theory.

He argued that, firstly, in mechanical societies, the punishment of crime remains consistent irrespective of changes in the crime rate.

Secondly, during the process of transition from mechanical to organic societies:

Changes in Behavior and Punishment

  • A greater variety of behaviors is tolerated.
  • The severity of punishments is lessened as it turns from repression to restitution.
  • ‘Functional’ law is expanded to regulate the interactions of the emerging organic society.

Crime and Social Change in Organic Societies

Thirdly, in organic societies, the frequency of crime increases during times of rapid social change. Later on, Durkheim’s theory has been invoked to expound a variety of deviant behaviors.

Challenging Durkheim’s Theory

After reviewing seventeen cross-national crime studies, Neuman and Berger concluded that urbanization and industrialization cause an increase in property crime but a decrease in violent crime.

They did not find any support for the proposition that property crime increased during the transition when a mechanical society transforms into an organic society. Their findings contradict the basic argument of Durkheim.

Economic Inequality vs. Breakdown of Social Norms

They suggest that much more attention should be given to the role of economic inequality than Durkheim’s emphasis on the breakdown of social norms. They draw attention to the relationship between economic inequality and homicide.

Modernization and International Crime Patterns

In developing countries, true economic development is slowed down due to foreign investment by multinational corporations and dependency on exports of raw materials.

This is accompanied by titanic economic inequality causing increased criminal behavior and the criminalization of that behavior by criminal justice agencies.

The authors conclude that “future studies should examine the relationship that exists between multinational penetration, inequality, and the type of regime.”

Durkheim’s Enduring Influence

Durkheim’s theory is very influential; in particular, its impact is extremely broad in Criminology and Sociology. When he developed his theory, classical and positivist thinkers dominated the world of thinking.

The Significance of Durkheim’s Social Forces Perspective

Modern theorists use social forces to explain crimes, but when Durkheim shed light on the social elements, that was quite radical. It is evident that basic crime patterns in the modern world can only be explained in terms of modernization.

Evolution of Crime Patterns

After reviewing the studies linking crime and modernization, Shelley concluded that the same changes in crime patterns that occurred first in western Europe have reoccurred in Eastern European socialist nations and in the emerging nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America as modernization has taken place there.

Durkheim’s Theory and Crime Predictions

Durkheim’s theory fails to predict many changes accompanied by modernization. With the process of modernization over the last several hundred years, the wave of violent crime has declined, which Durkheim’s theory fails to predict.

Some increase in violent crime occurred in the early stages of urbanization and industrialization, but that was associated with the retention, not the breakdown, of rural culture.

The Role of Social Control in Modernization

Gurr argues that an increase in violent crime rates includes wars and juvenile delinquency.

Modernization emerges with a higher rate of property crime, but this is not due to the breakdown of moral values caused by rapid social change. Rather, the increase happens because of the social change which creates more opportunities to commit property crime.

Durkheim’s Emphasis on Social Forces

Durkheim argued that modernization destroys traditional social norms and rules, causing higher rates of crime in modern societies.

Durkheim was correct in his proposition that crime increased tremendously when social control was absent, but he wrongly assumed that pre-modern societies had strong social control with little crime.

The Role of Collective Conscience

Now it has been revealed that pre-modern societies had a higher rate of violent crime and little social control. The extent of social control increases with the process of modernization, which ultimately causes violent crime to decline.

Durkheim’s Enduring Impact

Durkheim’s theory was very radical during his time, and it has been so influential for a long time that many theorists have utilized his frame of reference to explain various types of deviant behavior in different countries and societies.

Crime as a Product of Norms

When Durkheim developed his theory, that time was dominated by positivist thinkers. To Durkheim, crime could not be solely explained by biological and psychological theories. He considered laws and institutions as ‘social facts,’ to which all members of society have to submit.

Durkheim’s Unique Contribution

At the end of the nineteenth century, when positivists were looking for abnormalities in criminals, Durkheim wrote that crime was normal in a society. To Durkheim, the explanation of individual behavior required an analysis of social organization.

Crime as a Product of Social Forces

Durkheim described crime as normal in a mechanical society. He is correct in his theory in that no human society is devoid of criminal activities, as there is no clearly marked dividing line between criminal and morally reprehensible activities.

The Role of Crime in Society

All human societies exert some kind of collective conscience, giving rise to social solidarity. Without collective conscience and social solidarity, it is very difficult for any human society to remain functional.

Crime as a Catalyst for Change

In an organic society, if law cannot regulate the interactions of different professional groups, anomie will take over the whole society. Social transition is a hotbed of anomie and anarchy, which Durkheim focused on. His theoretical proposition is so powerful that it has been invoked to explain delinquent behavior in different countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

Durkheim’s Legacy

In the final analysis, Emile Durkheim made significant contributions to the study of human behavior. To him, crime has functional or positive consequences, such as fostering flexibility.

In the words of Sue Titus Reid: According to Durkheim, it is impossible for all people to be alike and to hold the same moral consciousness so that dissent is prevented.

Some individuals differ from the collective type; inevitably some of these divergences include criminal behavior—not because the act is intrinsically criminal but because the collectivity defines it as criminal.

Durkheim saw crime as the product of norms. The concept of wrong is necessary to give meaning to the right and is inherent in that concept. Even a community of saints will create sinners.

For a society to be flexible enough to permit positive deviation, it must permit negative deviation as well. If no deviation is permitted, societies become stagnant. Crime helps prepare society for such change. Crime is one of the prices we pay for freedom.

Strain Theories

Robert K. Merton has invoked Durkheim’s theory to explain higher crime rate in American society. Durkheim argues anomie to be taken place during rapid social change, whereas Merton considers anomie a permanent feature of American society. Merton tries to explain the high crime rate of American society in terms of the contradiction between ‘culture goal’ and ‘approved means’.

Durkheim and Merton: Theories of Anomie and Deviance and Anomie in American Society

Society has a major responsibility to regulate the natural appetites of individuals. If society fails to control this, Durkheim maintains that its members’ unlimited desires and tastes will lead to anomie.

Merton’s Perspective on American Culture

Robert K. Merton argues, on the other hand, that many appetites of American citizens are not natural; rather, they are created by American culture.

At the same time, American society’s social structure restricts certain groups, preventing them from satisfying these appetites. This situation creates strain on individuals within those groups, and they become deviant.

The Cultural Goals and Means in American Society

The culture of any society defines certain goals for its members, which may vary from culture to culture. The most prominent cultural goal American society sets for its members is to acquire wealth.

In Durkheim’s view, this might be a ‘natural aspiration,’ but in American culture, accumulated wealth is associated with high prestige and social status. Those without money have little prestige and social status.

Cultural Goals and Means in American Culture

While Durkheim argues that culture controls the aspirations of individuals, Merton suggests that American culture encourages every citizen to seek substantial wealth.

American culture is based on an egalitarian ideology (at least theoretically), which asserts that every person has an equal opportunity to achieve wealth. In reality, not everyone can reach this goal, and unfortunately, those who fail are labeled as ‘lazy’ or ‘unambitious.’

Institutionalized Means and Social Recognition

American culture has established institutionalized means to achieve these cultural goals. These means are generally referred to as “middle-class values” or “the Protestant work ethic.”

They include hard work, honesty, education, and deferred gratification. While force and fraud can be used for quick wealth gains, they are prohibited by these institutionalized means.

Strain on Institutionalized Means

American culture places great emphasis on the achievement of cultural goals. Individuals who conform to these institutionalized means receive little social recognition unless they achieve moderate wealth.

Additionally, society acknowledges those who acquire wealth through means not society approves. People who accumulate wealth through illegal means enjoy high prestige and social status.

This situation significantly strains the institutionalized means, especially for those who cannot achieve wealth through approved means, leaving them feeling seriously obstructed.

Strain in Lower-Class Individuals

Many people encounter this strain, but it falls most severely on lower-class individuals. Their talents and efforts limit their ability to acquire wealth, and the social structure also obstructs them.

In this lower class, only those with extraordinary talent and a strong work ethic can achieve wealth through institutionalized means. Most lower-class individuals cannot even contemplate acquiring wealth through these means, intensifying their strain.

Anomie as a Permanent Feature

The strain is not as severe among upper-class individuals because even those with moderate talents within this group can achieve a degree of wealth through institutionalized means.

American culture overemphasizes the accumulation of vast wealth, applying this goal to all members of American society. However, the social structure limits the ability of many individuals to acquire wealth through institutionalized means.

Merton views this contradiction between culture and the social structure of American society as the cause of anomie. He describes anomie as a permanent feature of American society.

Explanations for High Crime Rates

Merton uses a cultural argument to explain the high rate of crime in American society as a whole and a structural argument to explain the concentration of crime in the lower class.

Cultural imbalance is seen as the cause of the high rate of crime in American society, with strong cultural forces exalting monetary success while weaker cultural forces encourage adherence to institutionalized means of hard work, honesty, and education.

Structural Factors in Crime Rates

However, the explanation for higher crime rates among lower-class individuals cannot be explained solely by cultural imbalance.

Merton then invokes the social structure to account for the higher crime rates among the lower class. Legitimate opportunities to accumulate wealth have been relatively concentrated among the higher classes and relatively scarce among the lower classes.

The limited opportunities for lower-class individuals to achieve wealth create pressure, leading to a high rate of crime.

Merton’s Five Adaptations to Anomie

There are various ways in which an individual can respond to cultural goals and institutionalized means. Merton describes these options as conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. In a stable society, most people adhere to both the cultural goals and the institutionalized means.

Adaptations to Anomie

  • Conformist individuals strive to achieve wealth through approved means.
  • Innovators retain their commitment to cultural goals but believe they cannot acquire wealth through approved means.
  • Ritualists adhere to approved means but resign themselves to not pursuing further wealth.
  • Retreatists drop out of the entire game.
  • Rebels reject the existing social structure and attempt to change society through violent revolution.

Delinquent Behavior and Anomie

Merton presents the five adaptations mentioned above as various options individuals may choose in response to the strain of anomie. Some individuals may consistently choose one adaptation, while others may accept two or more adaptations simultaneously.

Finally, Merton developed this theory to account for some delinquent behavior, but not all diverse behavior prohibited by criminal law.

The theory intends to focus attention on one specific problem: “the acute pressure created by the discrepancy between culturally induced goals and socially structured opportunities.”

Gang Delinquency and Strain Theory

Merton reformulated Durkheim’s theory of anomie and pinpointed the severe strain encountered by certain groups in society. Later on, some theorists used Merton’s theoretical proposition to explain urban, lower-class, and male gang delinquency.

Cohen’s Perspective on Gang Delinquency

After studying juveniles, Albert K. Cohen concluded that most delinquent behavior occurred in gangs, and most of them were “non-utilitarian, malicious, and negativistic.”

Juvenile gangs stole things without any need, destroyed property maliciously, and took part in gang wars and unprovoked assaults. Merton’s theory cannot explain purposeless crimes.

Cohen’s Focus on Status and Cultural Goals

Cohen believes that gang delinquency is an attempt on the part of juveniles to acquire status among delinquent peers. He concludes that gangs have a separate culture with values entirely different from the dominant culture.

Merton saw people as seeking the cultural goal of monetary success, while Cohen saw youth as looking for status among their peers.

Schools, Status, and Strain

He saw schools as middle-class institutions with middle-class teachers and middle-class administrators and made a distinction between achieved status and ascribed status.

Students having their fathers (or parents) holding important status in society have ascribed status by virtue of their family status and are valued by teachers and administrators of the schools. Students having no ascribed status are placed under severe strain.

Cloward and Ohlin’s Utilitarian Perspective

Cohen’s non-utilitarian view of gang delinquency is contrasted by Cloward and Ohlin, who show the utilitarian nature of gang delinquency. They argue that more serious delinquents commit crimes for money. They do crime for “fast cars, fancy clothes, swell dames,” and so on.

Root Issues in Social Structure

All these situations indicate something wrong with the whole social structure. Strain theories dominated criminology and federal policy in America during the 1960s.

Government Response and Its Limitations

After reading Ohlin’s book, Robert Kennedy, then-Attorney General of the U.S.A., requested Lloyd Ohlin to assist in developing a new federal policy to fight juvenile delinquency. As a result, the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control Act of 1961 was passed.

The Act entailed a number of programs, including improving education, creating work opportunities, organizing lower-class communities, and providing services to individuals, gangs, and families.

Later on, all lower-class people were brought within the ambit of the programs, and they became the basis for Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty.

Shortcomings of Policy Implementation

Unfortunately, all the programs were directed at changing poor people, not addressing the change needed in the existing social structure, which is the root of the problem.

Moreover, the bureaucracies of poverty-serving agencies acted to preserve their interests, not to reach the fruits of the programs to the poor people. The programs were retracted by Richard Nixon.

Challenges and Criticisms of Strain Theories

After this failure, strain theories encountered increased scrutiny; some criticisms were theoretical, and some were empirical. Strain theory can be used, in Cullen’s view, in two completely different ways.

First, it can explain a social reality where the social structure fails to provide legitimate means to achieve cultural goals. Secondly, it can be used to indicate an individual’s frustration, anxiety, depression, and anger caused by the conflict between the social structure and approved means.

Struggles in Addressing Social Structural Strain

The failure of the war on poverty proves that the policy taken to redress strained situations is very difficult to achieve. The people benefiting from the existing social structure erect extreme resistance against any social change.

Proposed Solutions: Strengthening Non-Economic Institutions

Messner and Rosenfeld suggest some policies that seem to have been sound in that they maintain that non-economic institutions, families, and schools should be strengthened. They recommend reducing the mammoth influence of the economy in American society.

They also advocate for ‘social safety net’ policies, such as welfare, health care, parental leave, etc. Their argument sounds good in that if citizens are better protected by social security programs, crime rates can be kept lower.