ASSESS THE ROLE OF ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITY STRUCTURES IN CAUSING CRIME AND DEVIANCE
In order to assess the role of access to opportunity structures in causing crime and deviance it is important to understand what is meant by the term role of access. Role of access refers to the way in which an individual can attain the access to opportunity in society. Functionalists highlight that there are two types of access that have an impact on opportunity structures, some may say that these types either or are the cause of crime and deviance. There are two different types of opportunity structures, the first being the legitimate opportunity structures. This type of structure consists of an individual gaining access to opportunity through legitimate means, for example through the education system, then to university and into the world of work
Merton argues that there are different ‘modes of adaptation’, or responses to situations, that range from conformity that most people to display, to one of four forms of deviance, which he calls Innovation, Ritualism, Retreatism and Rebellion. A non-deviant, non-criminal conformist citizen would take the conformity mode of adaptation where they accept the means and goals of society. However those who fail to do so often turn to crime as an alternative.
However, Merton’s strain theory can be criticised because it focuses on individual responses to limited access to opportunity structures or access to illegitimate opportunity structures and doesn’t recognise that there is a social pattern of crime and deviance affecting whole groups of people, linked to social class, age, gender, ethnicity and locality, and not all of these people are subjected to the same opportunity structures.
Cohen’s theory also supports the idea that denied access to legitimate opportunity structures can lead towards deviant and criminal behaviour and theDisadvantaged groups that are denied these opportunities to achieve legitimately are...
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