A Clockwork Orange (Criminology Theories)

In the year 1962, there was a boy by the name of Alex DeLarge, and he was the leader of a gang called the “droogs.” He has three best friends named Georgie, Dim, and Pete who also make up the entirety of the gang along with Alex. One night, the boys decide to get very drunk on milk laced with drugs, and go out on a streak of horrible violent acts. They beat an elderly lady, fight a rival gang, steal a car, almost kill a man named Mr. Alexander, and rape his wife.

After the next day, the droogs gang confronts Alex wanting more high-rewarding crimes. He beats his friends to a pulp just to show them he is the boss. Just after this they break into a rich lady’s home where Alex kills the woman but before he could escape, Dim smashes Alex’s facewith a bottle of milk. The police find Alex rather woozy and bleeding from the head and arrest him.

Alex is sentenced to 14 years of prison, but after the first two years he volunteers for an experiment called the Ludovico Technique. He is induced with a series of horrible images of crime, and drugged with things that make him feel horrid. He soon relates every bad thing he has ever done with feeling awful. The church where this is run wants to stop the procedure because it is robbing Alex of his God-given right to freewill.

He is released from prison after a demonstration that shows Alex will never commit crime again. He returns home to find his room being rented out to another person, so he is homeless. His friends are now policemen who find him just to drag him out to the countryside and beat him senseless. He happens upon the same house in the beginning of the movie that he almost beat Mr.

Alexander to death. Mr. Alexander tells him that his wife died soon after the raping, and locks him in a room while blasting some of the music that torments him into throwing up. He throws himself out the second story window, and winds up in a hospital where the doctors cure him of the Ludovico Technique. The movie  3comes to a close when Alex is presented with the same music that is supposed to make him feel horrible, but instead he sees himself having sex with women in a town square where the crowd is applauding him. Theories Used Social Disorganization Theories

In the theory by Shaw and Mckay (1942), there are five different living zones in large cities or towns where people live. Each zone differs by characteristics of the community, people themselves, and every crime rates. These zones are the Central Business District, Transitional Zone, Working Class Zone, Residential Zone, and Commuter Zone (Shaw and Mckay 1942). Now after Business Zone, each of the follow zones outwards has respectively less and less crime. When people of low-income, people of minorities, or immigrants want to live in a city, they usually fall into the Transitional Zone.

This is a zone where there is mass poverty, rapid population growth, disorganized crime, large scale disorder, distrust of neighbors, and vast ethnic diversity. People living in this area would find it hard to complete their goals, the inability to solve problems, and socialize with their neighbors. All of the characteristics described above can directly relate to broken windows theory which is where a neighborhood that is falling apart, small crimes being committed, the people living there have some of the qualities of Zone 2, then the crime rate will go up. Slowly but surely, if these crimes aren’t being stopped, people aren’t trusting each other, then crime rates will


increase because the citizens of that city will know they can get away with bigger and bigger crimes.Along with Social Disorganization, there is a term from Sampson and Raudenbush (1997) called Collective Efficacy. When a neighborhood has a lack of collective efficacy, people do not trust one and other.

Communities that lack Collective Efficacy almost always have higher crime rates because neighbors will not call police, not help with any problems of their community, and inevitably have a community where there is no trust, and high crime. Collective Efficacy may in fact be a bigger reason behind crime rates even over Race or Ethnicity. The willingness to act as a community and maintain social order can be a crucial step to improving the social support of your neighbors. For example, in communities or neighborhoods where collective efficacy is high, there are types of situations where your nearby residents can be counted on in times of need.

These types could be looking after children for a short period of time, preventing children from committing devious acts, and an overall improvement in the conditions of the neighborhood (Sampson and Raudenbush 1997). Differential Association/Social Learning Theory Differential Association theory was designed by Sutherland and Cressey (1960) which has a concept that mainly states criminal behavior is learned. The theory itself brings forward nine separate points that’s described what can lead to criminal behavior being learned. Some of those


include; criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons, the setting is within intimate personal groups, techniques of committing the crime are learned, a person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of the law. However the final point of this theory defines that while “criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values since non-criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values” (Sutherland and Cressey 1960).

Akers (1994) thought up the theory of Social Learning. This theory was used by criminologists to help them better understand the meaning behind Differential Association. Social Learning Theory includes four major social structures that can lead an individual’s learning of deviant behavior or conformity. These include Differential Association, Definitions, Differential Reinforcement, and Imitation (Akers 1994). The first structure exposes the definitions of favorable or unfavorable criminal acts. Following that, definitions can be described as attitudes of meanings attached to a given behavior.

Differential Reinforcement follows up by trying to balance the rewards and punishments that follow a behavior. Finally, the imitation stage includes the engagement in behaviors after the observation of another person’s similar behavior. Acts of criminality can occur in the absence of definitions, repetition of the act, or even being a part of a group who acts in a non-conformal way.


Anomie/Strain Theory

Robert K. Merton (1936) created the theory known as Social Structure and Anomie Theory. This theory tries to explain why some societies have higher crime than others. Merton explains that the reason behind the high crime in the United States is the “strong emphasis on the goal on monetary success, and the weak emphasis on the legitimate norms for achieving that goal” (Merton 1936).

He goes on to say that societies lacking the strong enough regulation of these achievement seeking citizens are then characterized by a term called normlessness. Normlessness is defined as “loss of shared values and standards of behavior” (Merton 1936). At the same time Merton also produces a concept of Strain which is on the micro level of the theory. It states that people normally have the same cultured goals, but the means of achieving these goals are not legitimate. There are adaptions to strain which are a mixture of accepting/denying culture goals, and accepting/denying institutionalized means.

Crime rates in the United States could be defined by strain from Merton because the society of America as a whole agrees that the American Dream is a goal that everyone strives for, however not everyone’s ways in which they reach that goal are normal or legal. Finally, General Strain Theory is a concept thought of by Agnew (1997) which distinguishes between the types of strain there are in the world. He notes that there are three different types of strain, “failure to achieve goals, removal of positive stimuli, and presence of negative stimuli” (Agnew 1997).


Agnew says that strain would occur followed by a criminal act when any of the three types of strain hit an individual. This is because strain leads to negative emotions, lowered self-control, and the upbringing of learning about crime. If strain were to hit an individual Agnew would argue that crime is likely to occur if negative emotions follow that general strain. A pplication of Each Theory Social Disorganization Theory

Alex grew up in a poor part of town, and his parents didn’t look after him. He was surrounded with poverty stricken friends, people who didn’t like the gang he was in, and large scale disorder. He definitely lived in a Zone 2 type of neighborhood because the police were always around, abandoned buildings and the inability to solve any problems. Shaw and McKay (1942) say that in Zone 2, there are poverty stricken family’s, distrust between neighbors, and a lot of social disorganization that leads to higher crime rates.

 Alex’s small town where he lives can also be said to not have any collective efficacy, which directly leads to high crime and deviance rates (Sampson & Raudenbush, 1997). Not having your neighbors intervene if there were kids such as Alex skipping class, criminal gangs roaming the streets, or disrespect in the community is exactly what was going on in Alex’s neighborhood. Differential Association/Social Learning Theory The “droogs” which is the gang Alex is a member of can be described as a nintimate group of friends where criminal behavior is learned. Throughout the


first half of the movie Alex partakes in acts with his friends in which he deems acceptable because society doesn’t teach him otherwise, and he uses crime as a general need of his goals and values. Also, Social Learning theory can be applied as well because in Alex’s world, there is no distinction between favorable and unfavorable criminal acts. Throughout the movie he commits rape, murder, assault, theft, and other crimes in which his attitude towards the acts do not bother him at all.

Anomie/Strain Theory Anomie and Strain theories go hand-in-hand with Alex’s neighborhood, and society because the ways in which people here reach their goals of monetary success and respect is plainly through crime. Everyone Alex interacts with is drug sellers, thugs, or thieves which make for the means in getting their goals only to be with crime. Also, the lowered self-control that Alex possesses is so low that all of the ways in which he plans on trying to make a living have to result in stealing money, raping women, or breaking and entering buildings to coup with his negative emotions.

Policy Changes Social Disorganization Theory -I think that a place for children to go after school when their time is unsupervised would be a great way to reduce crime rates because having them involved in something rather than wondering around with friends would be a better use of their time. Differential Association/Social Learning Theory -I think that an idea that would solve the learning of criminal acts would be to have a class


that would be required for every student that passes through grades 1-12. Just a small class maybe for a week that keeps teaching that criminal acts are bad. Anomie/Strain Theory -Again, having another class that is taught through grades 1-12 about how to make money.  I know there are economics classes, but just a simple class about having jobs and participating in society might help to get rid of some strain for making monetary success.