Theories of Criminal Behavior
When evaluating the dynamics of both the strain and control theories one must factor into their analysis the sub-categories of each theory and how they contribute to the overall spectrum of crime, punishment, and social control. The following evaluation consists of those evaluations that consist of the varying forms of both the strain and control theories of crime; including the strengths and weaknesses of each standpoint, the empirical validity of each, and the overall ramifications for crime prevention. Strain Theories Frustration. This is the foundation for the plethora of strain theories that encompass the criminological and theoretical world (Tibbetts, 2012, p. 110). The basic premise of the theory traces its roots back to Robert K. Merton. Frustration to meet societies expectations in terms of success, (Specifically, monetary wealth), is a primary contributor to criminal behavior. Furthermore, the unequal balance between the goals of acquiring this “wealth,” and the means by which one seeks to achieve this end is described by Merton as an “anomie. Simply put, it is not so much how one gain’s wealth; it is merely of primary importance that one does in fact achieve it, by whatever means possible (Tibbetts, 2012, p. 112). Merton believed that America’s fascination with acquiring wealth at any cost is a direct link to the strain theory. However, Merton also believed that each individual experienced strain differently. He reasoned that each person experiencing the strain, dealt with it within the concept of five variations. The five variations or adaptions to strain consist of conformity, ritualism, innovators, retreatism, and rebellion (Tibbetts, 2012, p. 112-113). Adaptations to strain- Five variations Conformity, in relation to the strain theory, refers to people who utilize traditional means by which to accomplish their goals of material acquisition (Tibbetts, 2012, p. 112). Ritualists, the second adaption to the strain theory, refers to those do not wish to gain monetary abundance or riches. However, like conformists, they do structure their lives in a manner that is conventional. They enjoy their occupations, and their normal everyday lives, but they do not aggressively seek to enter into a higher echelon of economic status (Tibbetts, 2012, p. 113). Innovators are thought to be the most likely to seek out and live a life of crime (Tibbetts, 2012, p. 113). Innovators wish to achieve money and riches, but want no part of the conventional or traditional methods of achieving this end.

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