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For many years, the concept of adaptation with regard to crime and deviance was mostly neglected. Scholars and professionals in different fields of sociology did not see it necessary to expand the boundaries of our current understanding of adaptation. Moreover, for many years adaptation seemed as inappropriate and irrelevant for the studies of crime and deviance in broader social contexts. However, with the growing number of social complexities, and with the emergence of the new social structures, individuals are more likely to use crime and deviance as the means to adapt to social changes. As a result, the concept of adaptation is becoming increasingly important for understanding the social origins of crime and deviance, as well as the means of reducing the incidence of crime among the most socially problematic population layers.

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            True, the concept of adaptation has an interesting history in criminology studies; and it would be fair to say that Merton might probably have been the first to offer a relevant and comprehensible explanation of crime as adaptation to the contexts, where desires did not always couple with imposed social limitations (Arrigo & Williams 2006). In 1967, Halleck became the author of another adaptation theory that worked to establish the link between social oppression and individuals’ desire to overcome it. In this context, not oppression in its pure form but social helplessness which individuals experienced due to oppression became the source of crime and deviance as the instruments of adapting to that helplessness (Arrigo & Williams 2006). It should be noted, that the concept of oppression as a part of adaptation studies is particularly relevant for the research of deviance and crime. Here, scholars imply objective oppression, which is usually expressed in the form of racism, or poverty, or ethnic discrimination, etc. Very often, however, crime and deviance grow not out of poverty or discrimination, but simply of the absence of sufficient opportunities for self-realisation. To adapt to these social conditions individuals use crime and deviance. To a large extent, the concept of adaptation explains crime and deviance as the “easy” forms of reacting and responding to objective social conditions. Moreover, crime and deviance are the tools of adaptation used whenever individuals’ access to other social tools is limited or blocked (Arrigo & Williams 2006). Finally, in our age of technological advancement, where society undergoes serious social shifts that lead to the emergence of new multiple social structures and increase inequality, it is adaptation that shapes the basis for criminal behaviours as the means to adapt to these new social structures. That is why it is very probable that the nearest decade will be marked with the growing role of adaptation concept in studying crime and deviance from the sociological perspective.


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            With the growing number of social institutions, the concept of adaptation is becoming more and more relevant for the study of crime and deviance. Given that individuals use crime as the instrument for overcoming social oppression, adaptation may shed the light onto the major sociological controversies in the field of crime and deviance.

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