Sociological theories of crime and deviance



  • Durkheim - crime is inevitable/crime can benefit society.
  • Merton - strain theory/modes of adaptation.

Subculture theories

  • Cohen - status frustration.
  • Cloward and Ohlin - three types of subculture/illegitimate opportunity.
  • Miller - focal concerns.
  • Matza - techniques of neutralisation/no commitment to delinquent values.

Control theory

  • Hirschi - social bonds.
  • Gottfredson and Hirschi - inadequate self-control arising from weakened bonds is not enough to explain crime.


  • Gordon - surprising that the working-class do not commit more crime due to their circumstances.
  • Box - serious crimes are ideologically constructed.
  • Snider - capitalist states will only pass laws which benefit lower classes when they are forced to do so by public crises or union agitation.
  • Chambliss - there is one law for the rich and one law for the poor/higher classes are less likely to be prosecuted and if they are, are treated more leniently.
  • Pearce - 'the crimes of the powerful'.


  • Taylor et al - 'fully social theory of deviance'.
  • Hall et al - mugging/hegemony/media exaggeration/moral panic.

Interactionist theories

  • Becker - act


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