Sociological theories of crime focus on the criminal’s relationship to others. The basic assumption underlying these theories is that criminals acquire their interests, skills, and the support for their actions through their interactions with others. Criminals are not responding to biological or psychological impulses. This entry examines a number of major sociological theories: anomie, strain, the Chicago School, and conflict theories.

Anomie Theory

Preceded by the social structure theories of Auguste Comte, Andre-Michel Guerry, and Adolphe Quetelet, anomie theory was developed by Emile Durkheim. For Durkheim, the word anomie was used to describe a state of normlessness. Anomie is caused by social change. Changes caused by the American and French Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution, and other significant societal events led to a disruption in the social ...

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