Routine Activities & General Strain: A Theoret
This essay Routine Activities & General Strain: A Theoret has a total of 2554 words and 21 pages.
Routine Activities & General Strain: A Theoretical Examination Of Dr. Patrick
CRIM 300W C100
November 8, 2015
Central to criminology is the examining of why individuals commit crime. Gender, age,
as well as economic status, social position, and geographical elements are just a few of the
various components social scientists have observed in attempting to better explain criminality.
Throughout their investigations, criminologists may formulate theories based off their
observations of particular phenomena. In some cases, their findings will build off of previously
established theories to contribute new ways of looking at crime. Cohen and Felson's routine
activities theory, a sub-field of Clarke and Cornish's rational choice theory, and Robert Agnew's
general strain theory, which built off of Merton's anomie theory, are but two examples of this
For my second essay, I will continue with a theoretical examination of Scenario A.
However, I will now use routine activity theory as well as general strain theory in systematically
investigating the case of Dr. Lonnie Patrick. For the purpose of this essay, hypothetical
information will be introduced into the original scenario. Primarily, this paper aims to provide a
detailed, four-step analysis of Dr. Patrick's situation. Firstly, a comprehensive exploration of the
scenario utilizing both theories will be included. This will be followed by a compare and contrast
section, in which the strengths and weaknesses of each theory will be evaluated. A portion will
also be devoted to addressing theoretical integration. Finally, a segment on policy and practice
implications will outline suggestions and possible solutions to crime posited by each theory.
Routine Activities Theory
Established by Cohen and Felson (1979), routine activities theory (RAT) demands that
three components be present for a criminal act to occur. These three elements consist of a
motivated offender with criminal intents and the competence to perform on these feelings, a
suitable target, and the lack of a capable guardian who can avert the crime from occurring
(Felson, 2001). These three elements must unite in space and time for a crime to occur (Felson,
RAT provides a macro standpoint on crime that conveys the association between the
patterns of offending to the everyday patterns of social interaction (Miller, 2013). Crime is thus
normal and is conditional on openings to offend (Felson, 2001). If there is an unguarded, suitable
target and there are satisfactory rewards, a motivated offender will commit a crime (Felson,
2001). Due to the nature of the violent offence committed by Dr. Patrick, RAT would shift
attention away from Lonnie and focus it onto the target and the lack of a capable guardian. Dr.
Patrick became a likely offender when a young, vulnerable female patient came unaccompanied
into his office and presented Dr. Patrick with the opportunity to reward himself with immediate
In regards to the second requirement of a suitable target, the decision to offend is
influenced by the criminal's observation of the target's defenselessness (Miller, 2013). Indeed,
the more vulnerable the target appears, the more likely it is that an offence will follow (Felson,
2001). Dr. Patrick is a medical professional. Therefore, he holds an elevated position within the
social hierarchy due to his gender, income, wealth, knowledge and occupation. The target in this
case, a young, lower class, uneducated women, is at an immediate disadvantage given Dr.
Patrick's influence and expertise. She is an awkward and vulnerable target, and similar to
rational choice theory, Dr. Patrick thinks not of the retribution of the criminal justice system but
rather of the immediate rewards of the crime situation (Felson, 2001).
Lastly, the existence of capable guardians is believed to deter individuals from
committing offences (Cohen & Felson, 1979). "Guardianship" can be in the form of mechanical
devices, such as video surveillance or security systems, as well as the physical presence of a
person who is able to act in a protective manner (Felson, 2001). These material support and
surveillance methods bound a delinquent's access to suitable targets, in theory deterring the
potential motivation of an offender (Felson, 2001). Dr. Patrick's target, as with most routine
check-ups, entered the medical examination room unaccompanied. In a secluded, unmonitored
examination room, the target was without a capable guardian, thereby enhancing Dr. Patrick's
motivation to offend.
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