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Street Youths and the Proximate and Contingent Causes of Instrumental Crime: Untangling Anomie Theory

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 28 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2011 Pages: 413-436
Stephen W. Baron
Date Published
June 2011
24 pages
This paper explores the individual-level sub-model of the contingent causes of instrumental crime.
Utilizing a sample of 300 homeless street youths, the research examines the individual-level sub-model of Baumer's interpretation of Merton's anomie theory. The paper explores the role the interaction between monetary goals and weak commitment to legitimate means plays in the generation of instrumental crime and the manner in which this interaction is itself moderated by blocked opportunities, monetary dissatisfaction, social modeling, cultural support, and the perceived risk of punishment. The findings reveal that a weak commitment to legitimate means, but not monetary goals, has a lower order impact on the willingness to commit instrumental crime. These two variables, however, do not interact to predict intentions to offend. Instead the findings reveal that blocked opportunities and higher levels of monetary dissatisfaction moderate the relationship between the monetary goals and weak commitment to legitimate means interaction and the willingness to offend. Findings are discussed and suggestions for further research are offered. (Published Abstract)