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NCJ Number: 220314 Find in a Library
Title: Social Organization and Instrumental Crime: Assessing the Empirical Validity of Classic and Contemporary Anomie Theories
Journal: Criminology  Volume:45  Issue:3  Dated:August 2007  Pages:617-664
Author(s): Eric P. Baumer; Regan Gustafson
Date Published: August 2007
Page Count: 48
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study used empirical data to test the validity of the classic anomie theory of Robert Merton--which links offending to being blocked from obtaining monetary success through legitimate means in a culture that measures worth by wealth (the ability to buy things)--as well as the contemporary extension of Merton's work in Messner and Rosenfeld's institutional anomie theory, which focuses on transmitted institutional value systems pertinent to how money is obtained (whether through legitimate or illegitimate means).
Abstract: Consistent with the expectations of anomie theory as developed by Merton and expanded by Messner and Rosenfeld, this study found that instrumental crime rates were significantly higher in areas having both a strong commitment to monetary success and a weak commitment to legitimate means for obtaining money. The value system based in obtaining money through crime was reduced in the presence of higher levels of welfare assistance and more frequent socializing among families. Also, low levels of educational and economic achievement coupled with high levels of inequality in opportunity enhanced the degree to which commitment to monetary success translated into instrumental crime. Although these findings support some claims of classic and contemporary anomie theories, these perspectives must be further refined through additional research. Data on instrumental crime rates were obtained from the Uniform Crime Reports. Data from the General Social Survey were used to measure level of commitment to pursuing monetary success goals, the level of commitment to using legitimate means to pursue monetary success goals, and other relevant conditions. Measures of socioeconomic and demographic conditions were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau; and other relevant variables were drawn from a variety of additional sources for 77 geographic areas in the United States for the mid-to-late 1970s. 5 tables, 3 figures, and 87 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Alienation; Crime causes theory; Cultural influences; Economic influences; Social conditions
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