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By Peter Joyce

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Emile Durkheim and anomie Durkheim was a leading figure in sociological positivism in which crime was depicted as the consequence of social upheaval. Durkheim developed the concept of anomie to describe a state of social indiscipline affecting the way in which individuals seek to achieve their personal goals. , 1998: 132) whereby societies progressed from feudalism to capitalism (which Durkheim referred to as a transition from a mechanical to an organic society). , 1998: 125). Durkheim’s concept of anomie was initially put forward in 1893 and was subsequently developed in 1897.

The study of rural crime was neglected. Instead certain assumptions were (and continue to be) made regarding this problem which include the assertion that stronger social bonds exist in rural areas and that the opportunities to commit crime in these places are relatively limited (Williams, 2001: 304–5). Later applications Explanations of crime that focus on cultural tensions have been adapted to explain the crime rates of minority ethnic communities. Children of firstgeneration immigrants were likely to experience tensions between the values of their parents (derived from their previous country of abode) and those of the host community.

Direct coercion referred both to the ideological control exerted by institutions such as the media which regulated behaviour, and the sanctions which might be applied by the agencies of the criminal justice system to compel obedience. These were especially directed against those who threatened to subvert the principles on which capitalist society operated. Thus the criminal whose actions challenged private property ownership and threatened to undermine the work ethic, the striker whose actions eroded profit margins or the rebellious underclass which jeopardised social harmony were examples of groups whose actions were likely to become criminalised by the law, subjected to special attention by the police and treated harshly by the sentencing policy of the courts.

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