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Crimes: Crime and Robert K. Merton Essay

Many researchers agree that, in the United States, most arrests for street crime involve people of lower class position. Why, according to Robert K. Merton, Albert Cohen, Walter Miller, and Elijah Anderson, would this be the case? How would a broader definition of crime (to include more white collar and corporate offenses) change the profile of the typical criminal?

Robert Merton, Albert Colman, Walter Miller, and Elijah Anderson all agree that people of lower class commit most street crimes, because they are limited in their means to achieve their cultural goal of financial success.

They lack proper schooling parental guidance and job opportunities that are available in upper class societies. Therefore, they cannot conform to the conventional means by which to achieve the Cultural goal of getting rich so they use unconventional means, Selling drugs and thievery, which means jail time.

Albert Cohen who was a student of Merton believes that in many urban cities youths create sub-cultures. Groups of youths that is determined by who is feared more on the streets. They are delinquents who act out on impulse and do not think of what consequences there actions will bring and who are only loyal to themselves. Walter Miller lends into the theory of delinquency by defining it as having a need for excitement and a search for thrills.

These ties in to Elijah Anderson who believes that jail is very likely for youths that adopt a Street Code which means to stand up and be able to take care of ones self by any means necessary.

A broader definition of crime to include more white-collar and corporate offences will not change the profile of the typical criminal because society has a wide range of definitions for the behavior and actions of criminals. The definitions of crimes however should include the Social Status of a person and or group with legitimate reasons or circumstances for committing that crime.

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