Chapter Seven: Social Structure Theories
natural areas: zones or neighbourhoods with shared characteristics that develop as a
result of social forces operating in urban areas, some become natural areas for crime.
Chicago school: pioneering resethch on the social ecology of the city and study of urban
crime developed in the early 20 century by colleagues in sociology at the University of
culture of poverty: the separate culture formed by the lower class, characterized by
values and norms that are in conflict with conventional society; the culture is self
maintaining and ongoing.
underclass: a world described by Gunnar Myrdal as being cut off from society, its
members lacking the education and skills needed to survive, the culture becomes a
breeding ground for criminality.
Unemployment and Crime
• If people do not hold jobs, they are more likely to turn to crime as a means of
social structure theory: an approach that looks at the effects of class stratification in
Social Disorganization Theory:
• Focused on conditions in the environment
• Deteriorated neighbourhoods
• Inadequate social control
• Lawviolating gangs and groups
• Conflicting social values
transitional neighbourhoods: an area undergoing a shift in population and structure,
usually from middleclass residential to lowerclass mixed use. (Chicago)
cultural transmission: the passing down of conduct norms from one generation to the
next, which become stable and predictable within the boundaries of a culture.
value conflict: the clash of deviant values of teenage lawviolating groups, an element of
youthful misbehaviour, with middleclass norms, which demand obedience to the law.
siege mentality: a consequence and symptom of community disorganization, where fear
causes the belief that the outside world is an enemy out to destroy the neighbourhood.
concentration effect: the outcome when middle class families flee innercity poverty
areas, taking with them institutional resources and support, which leads to the most
disadvantaged people being consolidated in urban ghettos. income inequality: the differences in personal income that create structural inequalities
in society, which may be at the root of crime.
collective efficacy: communities that are cohesive and maintain high levels of social
control. a mutual trust and willingness to intervene in the supervision of children and the
maintenance of public order. three forms of collective efficacy:
• informal social control: primary level, involves peers, families, and relatives
exerting both positive and negative reinforcement for behaviours.
• institutional social controls: child involvement with conventional social
institutions such as school, church, etc.
• public social control: stable neighbourhoods are able to secure external resources
and are better able to reduce the effects of disorganization and maintain lower
levels of crime and victimimization.
atrisk: the susceptibility of people to criminal activity, often as a result of a ‘culture of
poverty’ that is passed from one generation to the next; marked by apathy, cynicism, and
mistrust of social institutions.
• Focuses on conflict between goals and means
• Unequal distribution of wealth and power
• Alternative methods of achievement
• Unable to achieve societal social and economic goals through legitimate means
anomie theory: occurs when norms of behaviour are broken down during periods of
rapid social change. most likely to occur in societies that are moving from a preindustrial
model held together by traditions, shared values, and unquestio