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Chapter 8

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SOCI 2450
Jim Davies

CriminologyChapter 8The Meaning of Crime Social Structure PerspectiveSociological TheoriesSociological approaches utilize a macro focus stressing behavioural tendencies of group members rather than attempting to predict the behaviour of specific individualsThere are three key sociological explanations for crimeCrime is a result of an individuals location within the structure of society This approach focuses on the social and economic conditions of life including relative deprivation differential opportunity discrimination social disorganization personal frustration alternative means to success and subcultural values that conflict with conventional valuesCrime is the end product of various social processes especially inappropriate socialization and social learning This approach stresses the role of interpersonal relationships the strength of the social bond and the personal and group consequences of societal reactions to deviance as they contribute to crimeCrime is the product of class struggle This perspective emphasizes the nature of the existing power relationships between social groups the ownership of the means of production and the economic and social structure of society as it relates to social class and social control Major Principles of the Social Structure PerspectiveSocial structure theoriesexplain crime by reference to various aspects of the social fabric They emphasize relationships among social institutions and describe the types of behaviour that tend to characterize groups of people as opposed to individualsAlthough different kinds of social structure theories have been advanced to explain crime they all have one thing in common they highlight those arrangements within society that contribute to the low socioeconomic status of identifiable groups as significant causes of crimeSocial structures theorists view members of socially and economic and social disenfranchisement as fundamental causes of crimeEnvironmental influences socialization and traditional and accepted patterns of behaviour are all used by social structuralists to portray the offender as a product of his or her social environmentand the immediate social environment is itself viewed as a consequence of the structure of the society to which the offender belongsCriminality is depicted as the end result of social injustice racism and feelings of disenfranchisement to which existing societal arrangements give rise The social structure theories of crime causation are quite diverse however most such perspectives build upon the following fundamental assumptions
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