[1] Through analysing the other theories, it is

1 (Crowther,

(Rai and Panna, 2010)

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(Stewart and Goldfarb, 2007)

(Crowther, 2007)

(Simon, 1979)

(Pratt, 2008)

7 (Leclerc
and Wortley, 2014)

8 (Cornish
and Clarke, 1986)

(Clarke and Felson, 2007; Opp 1997)

10 (Akers,

(Mail Online, 2013)

(Mail Online, 2013)

(Carrabine et al., 2004)

(Kendall, n.d.)

(Carrabine et al., 2004)

(Plummer, 1979)

(Thompson, 1998; and Critchely, 2003)

18 (Best,

(Best, 1990)

(Carrabine et al., 2004)

21 (Carrabine
et al., 2004)

22 (Carrabine
et al., 2004)

23 (Carrabine
et al., 2004)

(Merton, 1938)

(Merton, 1938)

(Study.com, 2018)

(Downes, Rock, McLaughlin, 2016)

(Freedman, 2013)

(Merton, 1938)

(Merton, 1938)

31 (Walsh and Hemmens, 2011)

(Merton, 1938)

(Downes, Rock, McLaughlin)


(sociologysaviour, 2018)

36 (smccormac7, 2018)

(Castells, 1998)

(sociologysaviour, 2018)

(Castells, 1998)

(sociologysaviour, 2018)

(sociologysaviour, 2018)

42 (smccormac7, 2018)

43 (smccormac7, 2018)

(sociologysaviour, 2018)

45 (Taylor,

(Taylor, 1997)

(Taylor, 1997)

48 (smccormac7, 2018)

49 (smccormac7, 2018)

50 (smccormac7, 2018)

51 (Department
for Communities and Local Government 2017)

(Pratt, 2008)



Cultural difference within families can have a
significantly important impact on the increase of crime. Through analysing the
other theories, it is clear to see that Social Strain Theory supports this
significantly more than the others. There is and always will be constant
pressure on individuals to commit crime, regardless of your culture, family
history and general identity. Pressure comes from families, friends, and
society in general because there is always a need to please those who surround
you. We are arguably a society that not only wants to please but one that feels
the need to live up to the reputation we uphold, thus creating a lasting impact
on individuals which could be stronger than the law itself. Regardless of this
however, there is a Troubled Families Agenda in place where 185,000 (so far) families
with multiple problems are receiving dedicated help; hoping to increase this to
400,000 by 2020.51 This
does not mean that crimes are not committed after “rationally deciding that the
reward outweighs the punishment”, or that people don’t “pursue deviant
lifestyles because they’re labelled as deviant”, however it does mean that the
Social Strain Theory has a stronger support system when considering the links
between cultural difference, families, and crime.5253

Socialist Ian Taylor (1997) argues
that by giving free reign to market forces globalisation has led to greater
inequality and rising crime.45
He argues the “deregulation and marketisation create insecurity and widening
inequality that encourage people, especially the poor to commit a crime”.46
Following that, he adds that “the lack of legitimate opportunity destroys
self-respect and drives the unemployed to look for illegitimate ones such as
the drugs trade”, however globalisation does become a positive environment for
more elite groups; “deregulation of financial markets creates opportunity for
movement of funds across the globe to avoid taxation”.47
This positive outcome of globalisation strongly links onto Hobbs and
Dunningham’s theory of a “‘Glocal’ Organisation” which argues the way crime is
organised is linked to globalisation.48
Individuals with contacts acting as a ‘hub’ around which a loose-knit network
forms, often linking legitimate and illegitimate activities.49
These new forms of organisation have global links, but crime is still rooted in
its local context.50

Globalisation arguably plays a part
in the Labelling theory around the media creating moral panics, highlighted by
Howard Becker. It provides a “negative coverage of immigrants thus leading to
hate crimes towards those individuals”; individuals that have no control in the
life they’re bought into and only want to lead a better one.40
Unfortunately, the consequences of the moral panics created have led to
intensification of social control at the national level, for example, the UK
tightening their border controls; the increasingly materialistic culture
promoted by the global media portrays success in terms of a lifestyle
These factors create insecurity and widening inequalities that encourage people
to turn to crime e.g. lucrative drug trade (deindustrialisation in LA led to
growth in drug gangs).43
Another result of globalised risk is the “increased attempts at international
cooperation and control in various ‘wars’ on terror, drugs and crime”.44

Globalisation refers to the
“increasing interconnectedness of societies: what happens in one locality is
shaped by distant events and vice versa”.35
It is argued that globalisation “creates new opportunities for crime, new means
of committing crime and new offences, for example, various cyber-crimes”.36
Manuel Castells (1998) argues there is a global criminal economy worth over £1
trillion per annum.37
The smuggling of illegal immigrants, i.e the Chinese Triads, make an estimated
£2.5 billion annually, alongside the drugs trade which is worth an estimate
£300-400 billion annually at street prices.38
Many argue that there is both a demand side (West) and a supply side (Third
World Countries), indicating the global criminal economy could not function
without a supply side that provides drugs, sex workers etc.39

Merton continues to argue that “certain
aspects of the social structure may generate countermores and antisocial
behaviour precisely because of differential emphases on goals and regulations”.29
He continues to state that “fraud, corruption, vice, crime, at the minimum, and
the entire catalogue of proscribed behaviour, becomes increasingly common when
the emphasis on the culturally induced success-goal become divorced from a
coordinated institutional emphasis”.30
“Antisocial behaviour most frequently derives from biological drives breaking
through the restraints imposed by society” stating that those who may live in a
poor/ “rough area” are more likely to become antisocial (vandalism, binge
drinking etc.) due to the label that communities place on that area or those
people that live within it.31
In contrast to this idea, Merton argues against the idea that poverty plays a
large part in antisocial behaviour and crime. He states that “poverty is not
sufficient to induce a conspicuously high rate of criminal behaviour… poverty
and associated disadvantages in competition for the culture values approved for
all member is linked and seen as a symbol of success in antisocial conduct.
Thus, poverty is less highly correlated with crime south-eastern Europe than
the Unite States”.32
In contrary, the collapse in LA provides a strong argument against this idea –
it allowed “the rich to buy private safety, meaning the poor were exposed only
to perfunctory policing which kept them under control but offered no security.
The poorest areas had now become free-fire zones where crack dealers and street
gangs settle their scores with shotguns and Uzis”.33
“Both cops and gang members already talk with chilling matter-of-factness about
the inevitability of some manner of urban guerrilla warfare”.34

Social Strain Theory also aids our
understanding of the links between cultural difference, families, and crime.
Robert K. Merton states that “social structures from within society put
pressure on individuals to commit crime”.24
He argues that “members of society are placed in different positions in the
social structure; don’t have the same opportunity of realising the collective
sentiments thus an anomie”.25
An anomie is “the lack of normal ethical or social standards” shown clearly in
the collapse of the mining dam in Buffalo Creek, West Virginia, 1972. 26
It is said that approximately “132 million gallons of mud rushed down the creek
carrying away houses, people, roads, and possessions. There was a loss of moral
regulation and a decline in cooperativeness soon leading to a large increase in
the rates of alcohol abuse and illegitimate births”.27
It can be argued that due to the intensity of the situation and the uproar it
would have caused, a majority of the illegitimate births were a consequence of
rape as the Marital Rape act of 1991, was not bought in at that point. Estelle
B. Freedman states that “Rape is a legal term that encompasses a malleable and
culturally determined perception of an act… the meaning of rape is thus fluid”.28

Aside from these problems, there
have been developments within the Labelling Theory which have come from key
themes within it. One of these is the Theory of Moral Panics, highlighted by
Howard Becker over the concern of drugs in America. Thompson and Critchely state
that the focus here “becomes the exaggerated responses of control agencies
(largely the media) in stirring up concern and anxiety”.17
The more anxiety and panic about a certain group, they higher the labelling and
concern around them will rise thus creating a hostile environment for those
involved. The theory of Social Constructionism is another theme argued by Joel Best,
of which he states that “conditions must be bought to people’s notice in order
to become social problems'”.18
It “looks at the way individuals, groups and societies come to label certain
phenomena as problems and how others then respond to such claims”, for example,
Joseph Gusfield (1981) traced the drink-driving problem.19
There seems to be “a ‘social problems marketplace’ in which people struggle to
own social problems”.20
This theory continues to “examine the rhetoric’s, the claims, and the power
struggles behind such definitional processes”.21
 Labelling theory became “particularly
prominent in the 1960s and 1970s”, and since then it has become something of an
“orthodoxy”.22 Currently,
“the theory of moral panics, social constructionist theories and theories of
social control have become its modern-day reincarnations”.23

The labelling theory, which was
closely allied to the development of the sociology of deviance, proves to also
aid us in the quest for links between cultural difference, families, and crime.13
It argues that “people come to acquire a deviant social identity and pursue a
deviant lifestyle because others have labelled them deviant and cut them off
from the social mainstream”.14
Problems have arisen with the theory (as they do with many of things), for example,
“the theory failed to provide any account of the initial motivations steering
individuals towards deviance; it ignored the origins of deviant action”.15
People aren’t born deviant, there will always be circumstances that drive an
individual to take part in that lifestyle. Deviance is arguably an escape from
what is going on around them. Sexual abuse can cause anger and aggression
within individuals, thus leading them to take on that sort of life whether it
be starting fights are joining gangs. It’s that lifestyle that then generates
the social identity that is surrounded by that way of life, arguably leading to
more crime due to the labelling of the individual. Plummer (1979) argues that “closely
linked to the above argument that labelling theorists had rescued the deviants
from the deterministic constraints of biological, psychological and social
forces only to enchain them again in a new determinism of societal reactions”.16

There are situations within
families that can lead to the thought of committing such a crime can outweigh
its consequence, for example, a teenager could be part of such a hostile, poor
or abusive environment that committing a crime and going to prison could
actually be a better life for them. Another strong example is kids who commit
murder on a parent to stop abuse that themselves or a family member are
suffering. In 2009, a “‘desperate’ boy, 14, ‘shot dead his father to stop the
beatings he and his sisters suffered'”.11
In that moment, it is arguable that the boy thought shooting his dad would be
the best option to stop the abuse that had been occurring for years, however it
wasn’t until after the shots were fired he “made a frantic 911 call asking for
emergency services to come and save his dying father”.12
It is clearly shown that the crime of shooting someone for the young boy was
worth taking, however the intent of murder was not.

The theories of crime help provide
us with a greater understanding of the links between cultural difference, families,
and crime. Defined by Herbert Simon (1978) as “purposive behaviour”, Rational
Choice Theory examines that “an individual commits a crime when they have
rationally decided the reward outweighs the punishment of crime”.56
Leclerc and Wortley state that: “the rational choice perspective has in equal
measure been one of the most influential and criticised criminological models
to emerge in the latter quarter of the twentieth century”.7
Through different mindsets and judgements of what committing a crime can entail
in regard to their consequences, there is a variety in arguments from different
criminologists. Conservative/ “administrative criminologists” (Young 1994)
arguably “ignore the root causes of crime (such as poverty and relative
deprivation) and thereby undermine the social reform agenda of sociological
criminology… thus contributing to an unfair and divided society”.8
By ignoring the root causes of crime, we are arguably becoming naïve to the
idea that something other than random acts or deep-seated drives are the causes
of crime. Clarke and Felson (2011; Opp 1997) argue that “offender’s choices can
hardly be rational when they are so often self-defeating (e.g. resulting in
arrest and imprisonment)” alongside “some crimes such as sexual abuse are not
the product of rational calculation but of deep-seated drives”.9
With the likes of Akers (1990) who assume the policy is to “strengthen
punishments”, they ignore the clear contradiction that is “clearly stated in The Reasoning Criminal, that RPC was
intended to provide a more secure theoretical underpinning for situational
crime prevention”.10

Cultural difference arguably plays
a significant part in the shaping of families (“a married, civil partnered or
cohabiting couple with or without children, or a lone parent with at least one
child”), and individuals in the confines of crime itself.1
“Culture includes all aspects of human activity from the fine arts to popular
entertainment, from everyday behaviour to the development of sophisticated
technology” for example, mixed-ethnicity, immigrant, step-families, disability,
fostering, children in care.2
 The purpose of this paper is to look at
the cultural differences within families and how that impacts individuals’
choices. Steward and Goldfard argue that “whilst culture has been historically
defined in terms of race and ethnicity, individuals joining by factors such as
sexual orientation, religion and disability status may also be said to possess
distinct cultures”.3 Crowther
(2007:31) “defines and understands crime in terms of: legislation, in
particular the criminal law; personal experience, as well as the experiences of
family, partners and friends; media led accounts; political debate; theoretical


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