SOC 2700 Final: Criminological Theory Exam Review

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9 Aug 2016
Criminological Theory Exam Review
Social Disorganization and Strain Theories of Crime:
Lecture Notes:
The Chicago School Social Disorganization:
Chicago school created the idea of the sociology of crime concepts of deviant subcultures
and social disorganization; the nature of society was rapidly changing and evolving
o Located at Chicago University formed a school of thought
o Concerned with social issues such as immigration, crime, racism, segregation,
poverty, culture, etc
o Social development causes change in culture norms
o Looked at norms and not individual defects of criminals
o Beginning of gang studies and research looked into the criminal subculture
o Looked at culture rather than biology, psychology, religion, etc
o Cultural norms dictate human behaviour crime is caused by criminal norms and
Crime producing areas / zones delinquency; slum; interstitial; disadvantaged
o Gangs exist in delinquent and disadvantaged areas because there is less supervision
o Crime is produced in certain areas and zones
o Run down, broken social institutions break down and lead residents to crime
o Certain areas are home to social disorganization
Social disorganization refers to normative disorganization of a certain area people in
certain areas (poor areas) have certain norms and are more likely to commit crime these
norms (deviance) conflict with broader norms of society norms fall apart, human behaviour
falls apart, leads to crime and violence
o Differences in norms
o Crime = belief in certain norms (deviant norms)
o Norms guidelines of social behaviour; what we should and should not do; regulate
human behaviour
o Laws legalized norms; serious norms
Normative disorganization conflict between norms; believing in two different norms that are
o Honour killings Muslim norms clash with Canadian norms
! Pre-marital sex vs. abstinence until marriage
o Chicago school found that the immigrant way of life was baffling and very different
explains by normative change and conflict; conflict between norms
! Individualistic vs. communal cultures (culture shock)
! Immigrants don’t know which culture to follow and what actions to take
whether they adapt to Canadian culture or keep that of their immigrant
! Confusion creates strain
o Coexistence of non-contradictory norms norms from individualistic cultures and
communal cultures may be able to co-exist; can divide our loyalty and cause strain
! People are exposed to different norms and cultures
! Crime more likely in areas where different norms and cultures clash
! Criminal Code certain norms are law and must be followed
o Ambiguities of norms some people don’t understand certain norms; don’t
understand what they mean
o Loss of belief in intrinsic validity of norms norms are not valid to some people; they
have nothing to follow; leads to crime
Youth delinquency young people engrossed in a deviant subculture
o Contradictory codes criminals hold deviant norms that are contradictory to the
broader norms of society
! Gangsters believe that cheating and stealing is fine, even though society
Partially conflicting with social norms
o Totally conflicting with social norms (gangs)
o Blend of conflicted codes
Qualitative method go out, talk to people and observe them
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Criminological Theory Exam Review
“The Definition of the Situation” follow certain norms in certain places and situations
o Leaving the situation undefined causes strain and discomfort
! People (immigrants) don’t know how to act
Robert Merton’s Anomie Theory (Structural Strain Theory):
Developed from the Chicago School
Key idea is that the cause of crime is culture
o Discrepancy between cultural goals and the means to achieve them
o Not everyone can achieve certain goals by legitimate means they turn to crime to
achieve them (strain)
Psychological strain is caused by structural strain
o Society tells people that certain goals are important, but prevents them from reaching
these goals
o Psychological problems caused by social problems
Class system
American dream materialistic success
o Become a global culture
o Not everyone can achieve this through legitimate means, which discourages people
and makes them turn to acquiring the American dream by illegitimate means
Modes of adaption:
o Conformist committed / have access
! Believe in cultural goals
! Not much strain
! Have access to legitimate means of achieving goals
! Not likely to deviate from norms / break the law
! Following legitimate route (job)
! Accept goals, have the means of doing so
o Innovation committed / no access
! Believe in cultural goals but don’t have legitimate means to achieve them
! Find illegitimate means to achieve goals “innovate”
o Ritualism no commitment / accepted means
! Do not have access to legitimate means
! Rejects the goals altogether because they know they can never attain them
o Retreatism rejecting goals and means
! Societal dropouts no hope
Quit school, quit job, does drugs; opts out of society
o Rebellion goals and means rejected / substituted by new goals and means
! Reject goals
! Create their own goals and means
Strain Theory:
Gang deviant subculture
o Many theories developed out of Chicago School and anomie
o Ideas have to do with status frustration
o Psychology humans are obsessed with a search for status (respect, etc); search for
o Biology we want to survive and reproduce
o Society is the foundation for psychology and biology
o Society provides us with legitimate means for satisfaction
! University education; status; life skills; mating; etc
o What happens to people without legitimate means?
! Form deviant subculture; rejects society
Poor kids in bad areas
Don’t get opportunities in society that others have
Commit deviant subculture they become a somebody in a criminal
world commit crimes: raping; robbing banks
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Criminological Theory Exam Review
Cultural Transmission Theory (Shaw):
How are deviant gangs and cultures transmitted from generation to generation:
o They work they give people what they are looking for (status, money, etc) without
the need of using legitimate means to achieve these things
o Successful deviants are role models to youth grow up and imitate these individuals
! Older deviants socialize the youth into deviant values
Differential Association Theory (Sutherland):
Concerned with cultural transmission / how criminals are made
People associate with certain people discriminate against people who are different (us vs.
o Gang members associate with gang members discriminate against university
Gang subculture is satisfying
o Purpose of gangs is to create criminals justify criminal activities and have criminal
o Favourable definition of crime and techniques
Criminality is a learned process through association with criminals
o Can make anyone a criminal by changing who they associate with take away
friends and introduce them to gang members; works the other way around too
o Frequency, duration, priority, intensity
Gang substitute for people who cant achieve goals through legitimate means
Opportunity Structure (Cloward and Ohlin):
Claims that the job market is the problem
Lower classes lose out on jobs to the middle / working class leads to frustration, which
leads to a deviant subculture
Status Frustration Theory (Cohen):
Working class successful; have specific values; have more access to education
Poorly educated cannot compete with the working class
o Turn to crime because of frustration
o Form their own deviant subculture
o Reject working class values
o Status frustration " deviant subcultures
Subculture solution for problems related to success
More obvious signs are money and education
Combination of Chicago School and Strain Theory
Social Learning Theory (Bandura):
No subculture is necessary for criminal behaviour to emerge
Aggressive behaviour is created from learning people learn criminal behaviour by observing
other criminals and imitating them / modeling their actions after them
o Kids watch violent TV shows goes out and imitates what he sees; commits crime
o Bobo doll experiment
Social Learning Theory of Crime (Akers):
Expanded on Social Learning Theory
Social learning requires punishment and reinforcement
Existence of subculture is necessary for criminal activity
People need to learn favourable definitions of crime before they commit criminal behaviour
learn from other criminals
o When bad behaviour is reinforced, they are more likely to repeat that behaviour
Combines behavioural psychology and Differential Association Theory
Marxism Theory of Subculture:
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