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Micro, Mezzo and Macro Factors


The criminal rates are increasing precipitously in the United States of America.   Although multiple initiatives have been launched by the both federal and state-level law enforcement agencies, no significant improvements of the situation are reported to take place nowadays. Various factors contribute to the spread of the criminality. Poverty, poor parental and educational influence, weakness of the law enforcement agencies, and other influential factors are among the key determinants of the criminal behavior of an individual, who is prone to commit criminal-related deeds.

The factors, which determine whether a person is capable of committing a crime, can be summarized into the three major groups. The micro factors include the basic information about the personality of the delinquent, elucidate his or her emotions, beliefs, behaviors, goals and personally determined objectives, his or her mental health, state of stress-resistance, weaknesses, psychological deviations and other contributive factors (Bursik, 1988).

Mezzo factors combine the small groups, with which a targeted criminal primarily interacts (Ashman, 2011). It involves his or her family, social groups like friends, colleagues or roommates.  Particular attention is also dedicated to the parents and close friends (for the adults), since these factors are reported to be among the most important ones, according to the scholars of criminal law.

The so-called macro factors are the large-scale determinants of criminal behavior, and they are considered to include business and job-related contacts of a targeted person, his/her religious affiliation and the church community he/she is adhered to, his/her education background and peers at school or at university (Garland, 2002). Another important aspect, which falls under this category, is the community, where the targeted person resides.

After a careful examination of all the factors that directly or indirectly make a person inclined to commit a crime, seemingly the combination of these micro, mezzo and macro factors ultimately urge a person to commit a crime, with the pecuniary-related factors being the most important ones. The aim of this research paper is to stress that the poverty-related motives are the most effective crime motivators, and the government law enforcement authorities shall express particular scrutiny to this component of a crime, while conducting an investigation. 

Model of the Paper

The following entirely fictional case study will be utilized in this research paper in order to accentuate the contributing micro, mezzo, and macro factors.

In the city of New York, in the suburb dormitory area, a McDonalds was robbed. The subsequently detained suspect happened to be a citizen of the United States, of Afro-American origin, in his 40s, divorced, without children or family affiliations.

Subsequent interrogation revealed that this man (hereinafter referred to as “the Criminal”) has no official permanent employment and is not registered on the local job market. While being questioned by the investigator, the alleged criminal has also revealed that he does not have a permanent place of residence and that he had lost his social security number.

He also reported that he has had no family. Neither he remembered the names of his parents, nor reported the name of his wife; although, the subsequent inquiry revealed that his marriage was dissolved just two years ago, upon the wife’s solicitation, and without his presence. Psychological inquiry and set of tests exposed that his parents abandoned him, when he was still an adolescent.

Socially, this person is not an active church attendant; although, the minister in the St. Paul’s Church told the investigators that he had seldom noticed the presence of the suspect during his sermons. However, neither active participation in the clerical service, nor regular confessions were done by the suspect.

The educational background of the person involves Spencer’s High School. Before being dismissed, this person occupied a position of a sales manager with the Bobby Auto Company, the enterprise that specializes in automotive spare details distribution and retail trade.

The person has no permanent and registered place of residence. According to his personal testimony, which was subsequently corroborated by the official inquiry, he had majorly resided in the Briton Park Area or in the flophouses for the poor established under the federal laws and private initiatives. He has been earning for living doing occasional jobs for café owners, monasteries, or begging for alms.

Micro Factors Motivating Him to Commit an Armed Robbery

Considering the fact that a Smith and Wesson sub-machine gun was utilized to intimidate and influence the sellers and other personnel of the targeted McDonalds, the District Attorney insists that the deed shall be qualified as a premeditated armed robbery, although the crime was prevented due to the hidden alarm system.

The micro factors proposed for the analysis in this section included: his personality traits, beliefs (both religious and not), social demeanor, his mental health and identified psychological deviations, his mental strengths and weaknesses, his mental processes and prejudices.

The method of examination involved a psychological investigation conducted by the practicing psychologist and cognitive behavioral specialist within the local police unit.

The study revealed the following information:

Personal Traits

The person is a psychologically sustained person. Although he spent several years living on the streets, his ability to think clearly was not obfuscated. The sentences he constructed were well-build, logical, grammatically and lexically correct, coherent and cohesive. Albeit his education background is confined to high school, he demonstrated deep knowledge of the encyclopedic information, showing expertise in geography and social sciences.

Emotionally the person is very restraint and does not indicate any inclination to reveal his emotions in public. Assumedly, his failed marriage and subsequent problems made his psychological type emotionally deprived. He is stress-resistant, and it can be assumed that he never discloses his feelings in public. Supposedly, only a serious psychological maneuver can cause his emotional surge.

Among other relevant features, chronic alcohol abuse should be mentioned.


The targeted suspect is reported to be very restraint in his emotions and does not express them openly. Among his main detected emotions were the fear that he would not be able to purchase the basic commodities and alcohol. The examination has also revealed that a person had not had either romantic or friendly emotions. The only human being he is emotionally attracted is himself, although he is reported to have slight friendship relations with the regular attendants of the church.

Goal Interests

The profound psychological study indicated that the only motives, which impel him to live, are the desire to get material benefits to purchase alcohol and to spend time in the entertainment establishments.

Mental Health, Strength and Weaknesses

Mentally, the suspected person is pronounced to be absolutely sound and sane, although insignificant deviation do take place; in particular, the social value of the money is excessively exaggerated. As stated before, the person is stress-resistant and capable of withstanding severe psychological pressure. Being interrogated by the police officers, no nervous agitation was reported to have taken place.

Conclusion on the Micro Factors

Bursik (1988) has encapsulated the opinion of the scholars, stating that micro factors play an important role in the formulation of the individual’s proclivity to commit crimes and crime-related actions. With regard to the present case, it shall be stressed that the key micro-factor, which urged this man to commit an armed robbery, is the personal enrichment motive. In other words, being preoccupied that the next day he would not be capable of satisfying his basic necessities, including food and potable water purchase, he resolved to commit this crime. The fact, that the man was prone to alcohol consumption, is collateral and shall not be considered in this case study.

Mezzo Factors and Their Significance

The group of mezzo factors includes family pressure, peer influence, social and professional groups the person is engaged in, and any other small issues.

As stated in the background of the case, the person does not have a family. Garland (2002) stated that the absence of the family and other close kinship is one of the major contributors to the formulation of resolution to commit a crime-related action. In the present instance this factor is especially important. Due to the fact that the person does not have a family, he has nobody to take care of. Therefore, nothing serves as a deterrent factor to his criminal inclinations, and nothing restrains him from committing violent actions in this context.

Peer Group

The conducted interrogation relayed that he does not have any close friends. On the contrary, the person maintained casual, impermanent connections with the people of similar social status and monetary category. He was acquainted with several regular attendants of his church. The interrogation of those people indicated that the targeted suspect was almost obsessed with the idea to become personally rich, or at least to possess sufficient financial resource not to be preoccupied with the needs to pay for his daily meals and other basic necessities. Besides, the person is reported to maintain distant, but stable relationships with other tramps rummaging in the neighborhood. Constant clashes with the similar socially depraved people without places of permanent residence resulted into his aptitude and resoluteness to recourse to violent behavior in the case of necessity.

Another important aspect to be highlighted is the influence on him exercised by the minister of the church the targeted criminal attends. Although the minister did not report anything relating to the targeted person, except for the information already discussed in the previous chapters of this report, the personal testimony of the alleged criminal clearly exposed that he was very susceptible to the sermons and moralities. This explains why this person did not resolve to commit a violent act earlier.

The person in not involved into sports or any other groups or group activities.

Conclusion on Mezzo Factors

Ashman (2011) and Bursic (1988) both expressed their opinion, highlighting that mezzo factors are among the most contributive ones to the violent behavior of the prospective delinquents. In the present situation, the two main issues shall be highly considered during the course of investigators of the case. First, the groups of peer influence of the delinquent do not conduct any actions to deter him from committing crime-related actions. Condoning the development of criminal inclinations can be construed by the future evildoer as an approbation of his actions (Morenoff, Sampson & Raudenbush, 2001).  However, as remarked in the present case, religious affiliation can effectively restrain the person from the violent behavior and decision to commit a crime.

Macro Factors and their Influence

This group of influencing factors examines the effect on the criminal proclivities of the delinquent, which is exercised by the large scale institutions.

From the business perspective, it shall be accentuated that the person is influenced by the ignominious character of the random part time jobs he was hired to do to earn for living.  No significant influence is done by this section, except for the fact that this person had outspokenly considered that his endeavors should have been remunerated more generously; although, they were estimated justly. 

With regard to the neighborhood influence, it is a convergent scholarly opinion that this factor is ubiquitously deemed as the most determinative one (Ashman, 2011). In the present instance, the person grew up in the neighborhood, where the criminal rates are high and the overwhelming majority of the street burglaries, robberies and scams are never disclosed by the law enforcement agencies, and the sense of impunity was also among the major determinants of his violent behavior.  

Another important factor in the context of the neighborhood issue is the fact that this area is economically undeveloped. The poverty rates of that area are excessively high and the prospects to find an official employment are not very high. This factor is among the most influential ones, which motivated the person to act criminally.

At school and high school the targeted person was reported to be routinely abused by his peers and teachers, and this might have indirectly cultivated in him sense of retaliation towards the society, which did not defend him from the humiliation of his peers. The common opinion of the researchers (Garland, 2002) is that the abuses in the period of adolescence are crucial to the determination whether a person is capable of committing a crime.


Having encapsulated the main points of the study, it can be inferred that the combination of the micro, mezzo and macro factors has affected the delinquent, when he was deliberating whether to commit a crime-related activity or not. The important fact is that one factor from each group was the determinative one. In the present instance, the suspected person was primarily incited by the personal high stress resistance, feeble social deterrent factors, personal financial hardships, and overall poor economic conditions of the neighborhood. The situation was aggravated by the fact that no feasible opportunities for legal decent employment matching the skills and capabilities of the suspected person existed.

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