What parts of the Cloward and Ohlin Opportunity Structure Theory were responsible for the programs that they advocated?  If you were doing an evaluation of such programs, what would your report say?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In order to answer this question, we must first look at what Cloward and Ohlin’s Opportunity Structure Theory says.  We must then look at the sorts of programs that they proposed.  We will then be able to see how the theory informed the programs.

At its heart, Cloward and Ohlin’s theory is a type of strain theory.  They argue that youths in poor neighborhoods will have aspirations that are similar to those that youths from better-off neighborhoods have.  All of these youths will want the things that our culture tells us to want.  These are things like wealth and prestige.  The problem with poorer youths is that they do not have very many (if any) ways to achieve these goals that society sees as legitimate.  In other words, they do not have access to things like good education or the “old boys networks” that other youths do.  Because of this, poorer youths tend to turn to delinquent activities.

Now, let us look at what sorts of programs Cloward and Ohlin proposed.  In general, they proposed programs that would give poorer youths better opportunities.  They proposed, for example, that such youths should be given job training and psychological counseling.  They also proposed things like drug treatment.

Having seen this, we can clearly see the connection between their opportunity structure theory and the programs they proposed.  Their theory says that poorer youths become delinquent because they lack legitimate opportunities to achieve their goals.  Therefore, the two men proposed programs that would provide such opportunities and would make poorer youths more able to exploit whatever legitimate opportunities they were given through these programs.

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