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Chapter 4

Scott Clark- CRM102 Chapter 4.docx Crime and Criminology and Introduction 1ST EDITION

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Ryerson University
CRM 102
Scott Clark

CRM102 Chapter 4 Strain Theory Introduction: • Shares many of the philosophical and political features of biological and psychological positivism • Strain theory views crime as a manifestation of social pathology rather than individual pathology Social Context: 3 Key Periods 1) Middle of the 19 century to the beginning of the 20 th • Saw the rise of sociology as an academic discipline • Felt that society could be studied as if it were external to the observer • Sociology presumed there existed a consensus of values and norms across society • Broad categorizations of societies (pre-industrial, industrial) • Attempted to show how structure of society moulds and shapes individual 2) Early 1920s through to WWII • Industrial revolution was linked to the idea of technical solutions to problems like poverty • Conceptual tools of sociology were being turned to examine problems with a specifically modern character • Developments in Europe led to a crucial question among those who were studying crime – how did the successive waves of immigration impact upon crime rates? • Economic position of an individual was now seen as an important factor in the crime 3) Post War period of late 1940s to 1950s • Countries had entered a long period of economic growth • Problem was to explain persistent crime rates even in good economic times • Answer was to examine the distribution of opportunities in society + the way people interacted with each other Basic Concepts: • Crime = social phenomenon • Based upon sociological understanding of individual + group behaviour • Acriminal or deviant is a product of a specific kind of social order • Wider societal factors determine the activities of the offender • Rather than viewing crime as the behaviour that violates the legal code  strain theory views it as a wider term • Crime is due to social disjuncture or social processes that represent a social strain w/in a society • Cause of crime is often seen to lie in inappropriate means or opportunities to achieve certain goals relative to other people in society  restricted opportunities can lead people to pursue criminal behaviour • People associate w/others who share their cultural understandings regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviour • Social learning theory or subcultural theory is to learn how norms and values are transmitted from one person to another • Crime theory leans towards measures that expand education, employment and social opportunities • Institutional reform is the main focus rather than changing the individual Historical Development: • French sociologist Emile Durkheim  showed the close relationship between social structure and norms and values of a society • “Social facts” that can be studied and used to describe social phenomena  external to the individual but has a marked impact upon their behaviour • Different societies give rise to different structures, beliefs etc. • 2 basic tools in the analysis of society o Society is structured around a division of labour (specific work tasks) o Mechanical and organic solidarity o Mechanical describes pre-industrial types of society where individuals share the same skills, work tasks etc. o Society was said to be characterized by a collective conscience – what we collectively think is greater than any individual o Organic solidarity - people are linked through law • Durkheim argued that the nature of society will determine the manner in which deviants will be dealt with • Organization of society (division of labour + collective conscience) determines nature of crimes • By defining a person or behaviour as criminal, people are reassuring themselves about their own society • Individual desires are unlimited; society gives direction and limit to a desire • Egoism refers to desires of the pre-social self  society must shape and limit • Anomie refers to a lack of social regulation  society at its breaking point Crime and Opportunity: • Chicago underwent a massive social and physical change in the latter part of 19 century • Chicago School – school of thought that favored free market economics  focused on exploring and recording the diverse actions of social life in the city • Created the ecological model – study the impact of urban growth, lifestyles of residents and effects of social change • Specific social areas which shared common characteristics like poverty exhibited greater rates of deviance • Social disorganization theory – popularized by Clifford R. Shaw and Henry McKay • Linked life in slum areas to inclination of crime rates • Shaw and McKay (1942; 1972) – placed crime within context of the changing urban environment and ecological development of the city • Chicago had developed into a number of ‘natural areas’ • Series of five concentric circles or zones – significant differences in c
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