Free Essay On Social Disorganization Theory And Strain Theory

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Sociology, Theory, Crime, Social Issues, Choice, Goals, People, Society

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/10/17

Compare and Contrast Rational Choice Theory,

Rational Choice Theory
According to Professor Robert Keel, one can understand personal choice based on the notion of rational choice theory. Keel based his arguments on rational choice from earlier analysis of human behavior, and came up with the central points of his theory: a) the human being is a rational actor, b) rationality involves an end/means calculations, c) people freely choose all behavior, d) the central element of calculation involves a cost benefit analysis, e) choice, with all other conditions equal, will be directed towards the maximization of individual pleasure, f) choice can be controlled through the perception and understanding of the potential pain or punishment that will follow an act judged to be in violation of the social good, the social contract, h) The state is responsible for maintaining order and preserving the common good trough a system of laws, i) the swiftness, severity, and certainty of punishment are the key elements in understanding a law’s ability to control human behavior (Keel).
In my opinion, by rational choice theory, each normal individual is given the freedom of choice, and it is by his option to commit a crime or not. Disruptive behavior, however, can be prevented by societal standards and laws that are designed to prevent people from committing crimes. For example, mandatory arrests due to illegal drug use or sale may inhibit a person from using or selling prohibited drugs.

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have your precepts”. Psalm 119:45

Social Disorganization Theory
Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay demonstrated in their research the strong link between crime, economic conditions, ethnicity, and population turnover. They validated the claim that crimes happen, not because of the specific circumstances of a person, but due to the abnormal environments to which he needed to interact. There are two arguments on the concept of social disorganization: a) it is focused on the community or neighborhood as a whole, not on its individual members, b) the characteristics of the community are not directly linked to crime (Kubrin). The second concept argues that it is the reduced social controls that call for the commitment of crime, explaining the indirect relationship of crime and the characteristics of the community. Social disorganization occurs resulting from the decline of the influence of social standards and institutions upon its members (Wong).
There are assumptions on social disorganization theory that explains how it enhances delinquency. One is that people respond to the failure of community social controls, and their actions are but a response to the confusing environment. Another is the disorganization of traditional institutions as a result of rapid development and urbanization within the area. The loss of social control lessens the ability to act in unity, and an individuals’ unrestricted freedom may result to committing a delinquent act.
In my opinion, the social disorganization theory explains why there are more crimes committed in highly urbanized areas. However, this theory does not cover all the types of delinquencies in urban areas, as other factors may trigger delinquent acts. For example, the increased number of juvenile delinquents in the city may or may not be associated with social disorganization theory.

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

Strain Theory
This theory by Robert Merton states that in every society are the inherent beliefs and objectives, coupled with the acceptable ways by which an individual can successfully achieve those goals. The social strain happens as not all people can achieve the desired goals. The people may react to the strain in different ways:
a) by rebellion- As an individual or group rejects the goals and standards set by the society, he will challenge the situation by creating a new society that is based on different goals and objectives.
b) by retreatism- A negative means of reacting to social strain. An individual rejects the goals and standards set by the society, and retreat into a removed lifestyle dipping him-self into drug abuse, alcoholism and other destructive ways to rebel against society.
c) by innovation- An individual accepts the goals set by the society, but innovating other means of achieving them. The person may revert to crime as one means of achieving the goal (Social).
How does strain theory explain delinquency? The indicators of measurable achievement and the accepted means of achieving them may be unrealistic to some individuals. Some may realized that after working hard, their effort is just not enough. The ambition to achieve material success may trigger the thought of committing illegal acts.
In my opinion, the strain theory is a valid theoretical basis that explains why some people may commit crime. The inability to achieve the desired goal may result to the innovation of ways to have better chances. For example, a corporate manager who seeks to promote his personal goals rather than that of the company is an example of someone who innovates.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” Hebrew 11:1


Keel, R., Rational Choice and Deterrence Theory. Retrieved on January 28, 2015, from
Kubrin, C., Social Disorganization Theory. Retrieved on January 28, 2015, from
Social Strain Theory. Retrieved on January 28, 2015, from http//
Wong, C., Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay: The Social Disorganization Theory. Retrieved from http;//

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