Social Theories of Crime Social Structure, Social Process, and Conflict
(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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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