24 Hour Customer Service:

Call for a quote line:

Poverty and Crime Research Papers

Paper Masters believe in helping students be the best they can be. Our topic suggestions, like the one you see here on Poverty and Crime, help point you in the right direction with your research paper. We suggest starting out your paper discussing the association between poverty and crime in term papers has long been assumed. 

Poverty and Crime

An association between poverty and crime in term papers has long been assumed.  Karl Marx implied this relationship when he suggested that crime was the inevitable result of economic class struggle.  In 1862, Victor-Marie Hugo published his famous Les Misèrables, the story of Jean Valjean, who was sent to prison for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister and her family.  The basic assumption that Hugo and others have made is that when an individual lacks the funds to secure those items necessary to sustain life, he or she will become involved in crime in order to obtain them.

However, research papers demonstrate that the relationship between crime and poverty is not that simple.  There are several factors that affect this complex relationship in various ways, and so the predictions that follow from an overly simplistic theory are often inaccurate.  For example, the idea that poverty causes crime would imply that all poor people will commit crimes, given the necessity and the opportunity.  This suggestion is obviously false; there are many poor people who never commit crimes.  Conversely, many economically advantaged individuals do commit crimes.  The intuitive assumption that poverty causes crime might also suggest that the only criminal acts correlated with poverty would be those resulting in increased money or goods.  Yet this is not the case.

A logical off-shoot of the theory that people subjected to impoverished living conditions are more likely to commit crimes might be that criminal behavior is the result of living in these conditions for long periods of time.  So, the question becomes, for what length of time must an individual live in impoverished conditions before he or she becomes more likely to commit a crime?  Possibly, individuals subjected to relatively short periods of unemployment may be more likely to commit crimes than those for whom financial difficulties are ongoing and seem hopeless.  And again, participation in criminal activity for these individuals may not be limited to cases in which money or goods are acquired, but may also include aggressive acts such as murder.

Basically, there are three specific social structure theories.  These include the following theories that incorporate poverty and crime:

  1. Social disorganization
  2. Strain theory
  3. Cultural deviance theory 

Social disorganization theory was first described by Henry McKay and Clifford R. Shaw.  They suggested that residents of impoverished neighborhoods or decaying urban areas are eager to relocate and take the first opportunity to do so.  Since the population is transient, no one has permanent roots, a situation which is manifested in a lack of desire to improve the neighborhood.  “Since social institutions can no longer function, their ability to regulate behavior is shattered, and residents experience conflict and despair.  Antisocial behavior flourishes in this environment”.  One indicator of community deterioration is a high level of unemployment.  Lack of work destabilizes households, which in turn increases the likelihood that these households will include children who place a high premium on violence and aggression.

Strain theory is somewhat similar to social disorganization theory in that the root of crime is seen as the environment or social class in which individuals reside.  In American society, people strive for wealth, education, power, personal possessions, and other comforts of life.  Realistically, lower class individuals are unable to obtain these resources through conventional, licit means.  The feeling of frustration associated with this lack of efficacy is referred to as strain.  As a result of their frustration, lower class residents may choose to commit crimes to achieve gain. 

Perhaps the best know strain theory is the theory of anomie.  When there is a condition of relative normlessness within a society, the result is anomie.  With regard to American society, the goals of wealth, power, and prestige are stressed; every one is encouraged to strive to achieve these goals.  The poor typically do not have the education or resources necessary to obtain wealth.  As a result, individuals in the lower class may develop criminal behavior in order to achieve the goals that the more advantaged among us can reach through socially acceptable avenues.

The third social structure theory is the cultural deviance theory.  Combining social disorganization and strain theories, this approach suggests that the lower class culture has its own set of goals and values, and that these differ from those of other groups.  This is supposedly evidenced by the existence of subcultures within lower class groups.  Conformity to the specific goals and values of the underclass may even result in a transmission of criminal behavior from one generation to the next.

Related Research Paper Topics

How Poverty Affects School Aged Children - How Poverty Affects School Aged Students Research Papers look at a sample of how to place an order that needs two separate papers.

Themes in Crime and Punishment - Themes in Crime and Punishment research papers examine Dostoevsky's themes.

Always Running - Always Running Research Papers is an autobiography on the life of Luis Rodriguez.

Criminal Psychology - Society needs answers on how to best deal with the issue of crime.

Social Structure and Crime - Theories regarding social structure and crime in research papers seem especially applicable to the relationship between poverty and crime.

Problems with Kids Who Kill - Problems with Kids Who Kill research papers examine reasons why they say children kill others, which is due to any type of violence they may have watched or participated in during their lives.

Homicide in Puerto Rico - A research paper on Homicide in Puerto Rico examines and discusses about 600 murders that occurred in Puerto Rico in the year 2003.

Women and Capital Punishment - Women and Capital Punishment Research Papers question the reasons why there are few women that receive death penalty.

Kids Who Kill - Kids Who Kill Research Papers look at a study by Charles Patrick Ewing about different cases of juvenile homicide.

Hate Crimes US - Hate crimes are generally defined as violent acts against an individual or group that are motivated by prejudice.

Conduct Disorder - Conduct Disorder research papers examine the psychological disorder characterized by a persistent pattern of antisocial behaviors.

Social Learning Theory - Social Learning Theory research papers on child development studies and theories in psychology.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder - Oppositional Defiant Disorder research papers discuss the childhood disorder that is characterized by ongoing anger-fueled disobedience.

Poverty and Education research papers discuss how poverty can impact an individuals education.