By examining these theories throughout history we can see how the understanding of organized crime developed. The theorists initially believed differences in aggression and criminal activity were due to biological factors, but Robert Merton countered that theory with the assertion that deviance is the result of a strain between the goals of society and the acceptable means for attaining those goals. After Merton’s theory the Social Control Theory, or the Social Bond Theory was developed by Hirschi. This theory suggested that an individual engages in deviant behavior due to weakened bonds with society. In 1977 Bandura’s popular Social Learning theory surfaced, which suggested that crime and deviant behavior is a result of modeling. A recent theory, The interactionist theory developed in 1987 is a bridge between The Social Control Theory and the Social Learning theory which states that both an individuals bond to society and learning influences criminal behavior.

Because of the contributions of the past, we can look at organized crime today through many different perspectives. Motivation to participate in organized crime activities such as drug dealing, prostitution, gambling and money laundering can be a result of an individuals inability to reach common societal goals such as wealth through acceptable means. Participation in organized crime can also be a result of weakened social bonds which causes them to make counter their personal beliefs with justifications for breaking laws. Furthermore individuals could join gangs or the mafia because the behavior has been modeled for them in the past. Mafia members are frequently men coming from the same families, thus the illegal activities become socialized as normal, acceptable behavior. Or it could be, as Thornberry suggested, that it is both a result of weakened social bonds, and learning throughout childhood that an individual finds crime and deviance an acceptable means of survival.

Research into organized crime is important for society. A better understanding of crime and organized crime can lead to better prevention methods or outreach programs that may prevent a child from giving their life to a gang.

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