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University of Guelph
SOC 1500
Anneke Olthof

Branches of Social Structure Theory *each of these theories supports the view that socially isolated people, living in disorganized neighborhoods, are the ones most likely to commit crimes Social Disorganization Theory (1 branch of social structure theory) - looks at how neighborhoods or areas are marked by CULTURE CONFLICT, lack of a union or togetherness, temporary populations, insufficient social organizations, and anomie (absence of social norms) Focuses on conditions in environment: -deteriorated neighborhoods -inadequate social control -law-violating gangs and groups -conflicting social values *poverty develops isolated slums = lack of conventional social opportunities and racial and ethnic discrimination Social Ecology School -1970’s theories with a more social psychological orientation developed critiques of social disorganization theory -however, the s.d.t was kept alive because conflicts within the ecological conditions of an area showed incidence of delinquency -1980’s social ecologists developed an approach that stressed the relation of community deterioration and economic decline to criminality while placing less emphasis on value conflict Strain Theory (2 ndbranch of social structure theory) -looks at the conflict caused when people cannot achieve their desires and goals through legitimate means, and are denied access to adequate educational opportunities and social support -crime is produce of conflict between goals and means; classes play a huge role, lower class is less able to achieve symbols of success through conventional means and may feel anger, frustration and resentment, i.e. strain. Focuses on goals and means: -unequal distribution of wealth and power -frustration -alternative methods of achievement Anomie Theory -roots of strain theory can be traced to Emile Durkheim’s notion of anomie -occurs when norms of behavior are broken down during periods of rapid social change -macro approach: institutional anomie: anomic conditions occur because the desire to succeed at any cost drives people apart, weakens the collective sense of community General Strain Theory -Robert Agnew -focuses on the mirco-level, or individual effects of strain and not the macro-level (social) effects -individuals who feel stress or strain are more likely to commit crimes Cultural Deviance Theory (3 variation of structural
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