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Chapter 7

SOC*1500 Chapter 7

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SOC 1500
Mavis Morton

Chapter 7 Social Structure Theories  Sociology has been the primary focus used in criminology since the early 20 th century  Some areas form natural areas for crime and some for wealth and affluence NATURAL AREAS are social forces operating in urban areas result in populations in some zones or neighbourhoods sharing similar characteristics; some become natural areas fro crime Sociological Criminology  Sociologists look at how patterns of behaviour exist within the social structure  Criminologists look at how criminal patterns exist within a society, how they can be predicted, and how they can be controlled  The reason we look at social structure is the explanations of crime as an individual level phenomenon fail to account for consistent patterns in crime rates  Criminologists believe that understanding the dynamics of interactions between individuals and their families, peers, schools and work is important for understanding the cause of crime  Crime should not be studied without considering the interactions of all participants in a criminal act: the law violator, the victim, the law enforcers, the lawmakers, the social institutions Economic Structure and Crime  All societies are characterized by stratification into social classes: upper, middle and lower class individuals  Lower class individuals are pledged by scenes of inadequate housing and healthcare, disrupted family lives, underemployment, depression and despair THE CULTURE OF POVERTY is the lower class forms a separate culture with its own values and norms that are in conflict with conventional society; the culture is self maintaining and ongoing  The view that impoverished people bring this fate upon themselves is a baseless conclusion  The social structure approach links crime to economic deprivation  Joblessness increases the motivation to commit crime Branches of Social Structure Theory SOCIAL STRUCTURE THEORY is an approach that looks at the effects of the class stratification in society  These theories suggest that forces operating in deteriorated lower-class areas, push many of their residents into criminal behaviour patterns  Social structure theorists believe that crime is influenced solely on the environment where the individual is living  They believe that people living in equivalent social environments behave in similar ways, and if the environment did not influence social behaviour, crime rates would be distributed evenly across social structure  There are three branches within the social structure perspective: - Social disorganization theory - Strain theory - Cultural deviance theory SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION THEORY is a approach that looks at how neighbourhoods or areas are marked by culture conflict, lack of cohesiveness, transient insufficient social organizations and anomie  Social disorganization focuses on conditions in the environment that affect crime rates  Institutions of social control no longer carry out their functions STRAIN THEORY is an approach that 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  It is a conflict between goals and means, and suggests that there is an unequal distribution between wealth and power  As members of the lower class cannot their desire to achieve wealth, material possessions, power and prestige, they either accept their position as socially responsible citizens, or they choose an alternative means to success (crime) CULTURAL DEVIANCE THEORY states that criminal behaviour is in conformity to lower- class subcultural values that develop in disorganized neighbourhoods due to strain, values in conflict with conventional social norms  Combines both elements of social disorganization and strain theory  A unique set of values develop in disorganized neighbourhoods, creating a unique set of values in conflict with conventional social norms  Criminal behaviour is an expression of conformity to lower-calls subvalues and not a rebellion against conventional society Social Disorganization Theory  Crime is a result of destructive ecological conditions in urban slums  Localities unable to provide essential services, such as education, health care and proper housing  With poverty and social disorganization, there is a breakdown of social control – there is a development of gangs and criminal areas  In turn, older youths pass on norms to younger culture, creating stable slum culture  Popularized by sociologist Shaw and McKay  They made a concentric map of Chicago that suggested that the slums were located in the middle of the city, and were ridden with high crime rates, whereas residential areas were on the outskirts of the city and had a lot less crime VALUE CONFLICT are the deviant values of teenage law-violating groups, an element of misbehaviour, conflict with middle-class norms which demand obedience to the law  Crime rates were found to always be higher in central city and transitional areas  Neighbourhood disintegration and slum conditions are the primary conditions of criminal behaviour, not because criminals are biologically inferior  This theory depicted criminality as a normal response to adverse social conditions SOCIAL ECOLOGISTS is a modern variant of disorganization that looks at community-level indicators of social disorganization, including disorder, poverty, alienation, disassociation and fear of crime  Neighbourhoods with few employment opportunities are the most vulnerable to predatory crime SIEGE MENTALITY is a consequence and symptom of community disorganization, where fear causes the belief that the outside world is an enemy out to destroy the neighbourhood  Communities go through cycles of community change, where neighbourhood deterioration precedes increases CONCENTRATION EFFECT is when middle class families flee inner-city poverty areas, taking with them institutional resources and support, the most disadvantaged are consolidated in urban ghettos  Communities with low collective efficacy suffer high rates of violence and significant physical and social disorder  There are 3 forms of collective efficacy: - Informal social control - Institutional social control - Public social control  Informal social control involves peers, families and relatives exerting informal social control through positive and negative reinforcement  Institutional social control involves churches and schools, businesses, volunteer organizations  Communities that have collective efficacy attempt to use institutional social control to control crime  Public social control includes policing and political power SOCIAL ALTRUISM is the idea that some
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