American Dream and Criminology Cause and Effect Essay by writingsensation

American Dream and Criminology
This paper examines how the American dream may relate to crime.
# 91508 | 1,255 words | 2 sources | APA | 2006 | US

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In this article, the writer looks at the theory, proposed by Steven F. Messner and Richard Rosenfeld, that the American dream may in fact be a major causal factor in crime and criminal behavior. The writer explains that this theory, known as institutional anomie theory or more simply as the American dream theory, suggests that the relentless pursuit of material success creates anomie, a state of social lawlessness. Further, the writer notes that anomie in turn causes crime, which is in many cases the easiest and quickest way of fulfilling the American dream. The writer also discusses this theory as depicted in Martin Scorsese's 1990 film 'Goodfellas'. The writer concludes that policy changes need to be targeted at restructuring social norms, values and beliefs.

From the Paper:

"Moreover, Messner and Rosenfeld point out that the values and beliefs underlying the American Dream also erode cultural values and subsequently lead to anomie. The American Dream has led to enormous structural changes within American society, and nearly every political, economic, social, and even spiritual institution operates under its spell. Messner and Rosenfeld's theories can be illuminated through the depiction of organized crime in films such as Martin Scorcese's 1990 Goodfellas, starring Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, and Joe Pesci. Based on the true story of Henry Hill, Goodfellas illustrates how the American Dream is a major causal factor in criminal behavior, showing also how law enforcement institutions cannot adequately address crime without there first being a major upheaval of values, norms, and beliefs in the society."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • "Messner and Rosenfeld: Has the American Dream Succeeded in Creating Crime?" (nd). Retrieved Dec 11, 2005 from
  • Scorsese, M. (Director). (1990). Goodfellas [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.

Cite this Cause and Effect Essay:

APA Format

American Dream and Criminology (2007, January 28) Retrieved April 19, 2021, from

MLA Format

"American Dream and Criminology" 28 January 2007. Web. 19 April. 2021. <>