SOC 1500 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Corporate Crime, Governmentality, Larceny

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10 Aug 2016
October 7th 9th, 2014
Textbook: Chapter 5 – Recent Sociological Approaches to Crime – page #
A General Theory of Crime:
The contention behind A General Theory of crime is that crime and other analogous
behaviours such as smoking. Drinking, gambling, irresponsible sex, and careless driving are
all the result of low self-control
These sorts of behaviours provide short-term gratification and are caused by the inability of
some people to exercise self-control
Individuals who lack self-control are believed to be self-centered, impulsive, lacking in
perseverance, and likely to exhibit involvement in risk-taking behaviour, including criminal
Because the path toward or away from crime begins early in life, the level of self-control in a
person depends on the quality of parenting received in the child’s formative years
The theory purports that parenting is the most important factor determining the level of self-
control that children learn
Children whose parents care about them and supervise and discipline their misconduct will
develop the self-control needed to resist the simple temptations that are offered by crime
Developing self-control will help people in the future with school, work, and relationships
Drunk driving and juvenile delinquency are associated with low levels of self- control
A General Theory of Crime is considered to be tautological because it does not define self-
control independent from the tendency to commit crimes and related behaviors which is
equivalent to saying low self-control causes low-self control or criminality causes criminality
Adult social bonds, like stable employment and a cohesive marriage can redirect offenders
into a lifestyle of conformity even though they are far beyond the childhood years of
The theory carries certain paternalistic and conservative undertones ex: the traditional roles
of men and women are crucial to the development of children
Theory makes it appear that society can do nothing about crime except rise to the challenges
of early identification and selective incapacitation
A main assumption of this self-control explanation of crime is that criminality is an attribute
that is constant throughout life
The Life Course Perspective:
The basic premise of the life course theory is that problem behaviours as well as their
termination are age-related, caused by certain events that take place in the developmental
The premise of the life course perspective is that individuals will refrain from crime and
deviance as they enter stages of life where adult roles such as marriage and employment can
act as “turning points” that consequently put a stop to criminal careers
Research on criminal careers draws attention to the observation that criminal behaviours
tends to follow predictable patterns over the life course
During childhood, serious criminal behaviour is not very common, but crime does tend to
increase during adolescence and early adulthood, and then declines thereafter
Individual traits such a poor verbal skills, limited self-control, and difficult temperament do not
actually account for long-term trajectories of offending
By connecting variability in behaviour to social context, they find that men who desisted from
crime were rooted to strong social ties with family and community
They infer from their study that these turning points cannot be predicted in advance because
meeting the right woman, finding the right job, or fitting into a rewarding military role may
depend on luck and personal agency or simply being in the right place at the right time
One element missing is the impact that gender plays on offending over the life course
Research found that although risk factors for criminal involvement were similar for brothers
and sisters, low family income, a low standard of housing, and poor parental supervision
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