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Social Theories of Crime

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  • 1. Social Theories of Crime
    Social Structure, Social Process, and Conflict
  • 2. (Also use these first two slides with your notes on crime)
    Consensus Approach Diagram
    ·(Note: Deviant groups are the different colored circles on the fringes of the main circle.)
    Mainstream Society
  • 3. Conflict Approach Metaphor
    ·(Don’t copy—just draw a diagram of the following description) This theory can be represented as a ladder metaphor.  The people on top of the ladder are the upper classes, and people at the bottom are the lower classes. People at the bottom want to climb the ladder and achieve what those at the top have. People at the top want to maintain their position and distance themselves from people underneath them. This theory can be used to explain motivation for crime in either class. 
  • 4. I. Social Structure Theories
    A. Assumptions:
    1. Disadvantaged social class is a
    primary cause of crime.
    2. Criminal behavior begins in
    youth
    B. Major Social Structure theories
    1. Social Disorganization Theory
    a. Crime is a largely the result of
    unfavorable conditions in a
    community.
    i. high dropout rate, unemploy-
    ment, crumbling infrastructure,
    single parent families.
  • 5. 2. Strain Theory
    a. Crime occurs when people are frustrated
    by lack of access to financial success.
    b. Few under strain turn to crime, but
    negative emotionality may increase
    tendency.
    3. Cultural Deviance Theory
    a. People outside the mainstream may
    adapt to subcultures, which have their
    own norms and values.
    b. Some subcultures celebrate criminal or
    deviant behavior.
    i. Form in disorganized neighborhoods
    isolated from dominant society.
  • 6. II. Social Process Theories
    A. Assumption: Everyone has the potential to be a criminal, depending on one's interactions with various groups and institutions.
    B. Major Theories
    1. Learning Theory
    a. Family and peers have a large
    influence
    b. Influence through differential
    association
    i. Criminal behavior is learned the
    same way as other behaviors
    c. Influence through differential
    reinforcement
    i. when negative behavior is
    rewarded, it is reinforced.
  • 7. Differential Association
    Ideas that Justify Crime
    Ideas that inhibit Crime
    Don't get mad, get even.
    Sort these ideas into the right category above:
    Play fair.
    Turn the other cheek.
    Don't be a bully.
    Don't let anyone push you around.
    Evil is always
    punished.
    You're not responsible for what you do when you're drunk.
    People should use drugs
    if they want to.
    Forgive and forget.
  • 8. 2. Control Theory
    a. Social bond between people in a
    social setting controls deviance
    and promotes conformity to
    norms.
    b. Bonds are formed based on
    involvement, commitment,
    attachment and common beliefs.
    c. As the social bond weakens,
    deviance increases.
  • 9. 3. Reaction Theory
    a. Not as concerned with what a person
    does but how other people react to what
    they did
    b. Labeling a person can lead to a
    "self-fulfilling prophecy"
    i. A prediction that, in being made,
    actually causes itself to become true
    ii. Living down to expectations. Can
    become a downward spiral.
  • 10. III. Social Conflict Theory
    A. Assumptions:
    1. Conflict between social classes causes
    crime
    2. Conflict is created by capitalism and
    competition over scarce resources
    a. Scarce human resources are wealth
    and power
    3. The law is defined by people who control
    wealth and it is biased against the poor
    4. The criminal justice system is a
    mechanism for controlling the poor.
    5. Crime can be revolutionary and bring
    about social change.
  • 11. IV. Developmental Theories
    A. Assumption: Social, personal, and economic factors influence criminality, and these factors change over time.
    B. Life Course and Latent Trait Theories
    a. Conduct problems in childhood and
    early adolescence--lying, stealing, cheating, bullying--are highly predictive of
    future criminal behavior.
    b. Once established, negative behavior
    patterns are difficult to change
    c. Linked to personality trait of poor self
    control, often related to poor
    parenting.
    i. impulsive, thrill-seeking, likely to "solve" problems with violence
    d. Opportunities for crime diminish as one
    ages and has more responsibilities