Chapter 6 SUMMARY
Social and Cultural Explanations for Homicide
Different groups within society have different rates of criminal offending and
Men are more likely than women to be both offenders and victims of homicide
throughout the world.
In the US, southerners have higher rates of homicide than northerners
Investigate crime with social histories of individual offenders and the context of
This chapter focuses on cultural and social explanations
Classical School Perspective: RATIONAL BEINGS
Italian court system during the enlightenment.
He argued that people are rational and hedonistic and that they possess free will.
Individuals weigh the costs and benefits of potential actions including criminal
Rational choice theory also assumes that people are rational and they consider the risks
involved in their actions before acting.
Social Disorganization: TRANSITIONAL ZONE
Crime is more prevalent in urban areas
Social disorganization theories look to the structural causes for explaining crime
Shaw & McKay found that regardless of who lived in what they called the “transitional
zone” of the city; this zone had higher delinquent and crime rates.
High crime rate had worse housing conditions than other areas
Higher rates of poverty and fewer intact families and less of a sense of
community in the transitional zone
Zone is disorganized
Social disorganization theory fails to explain the fact that not everyone who lives in
disorganized areas commits crimes
Greater economic disadvantage and low home ownership rates are correlated with
higher rates of homicide
Differential Association Theory: WE LEARN HOW TO
Association with biological and psychological theories of crime
Influenced by social disorganized theory
This theory CAN explain why not all people who live in the inner city committed
crimes and why others in outer cities did.
Argued that crime is like everything else that humans do: we learn to do it.
Through family and peers we are exposed to ideas about laws and we learn that laws
should be followed Gang killings are likely learned
Youth learn to commit crime through other youths
Social Control Theories: SOCIAL BONDS
Why people violate norms
Assumes that people will commit crimes if left to their own devices
Something must exist to prevent people from doing crime
Our connection to conventional others is what stops us from committing crime
According to Durkheim’s theory of anomie, with industrialization on the increasing
complexity and size of society, more deviance would be likely because family and
community ties would be weaker and thus individuals would have less to lose if they did
We see more crime when people are less connected
If we aren’t afraid of losing our jobs or our standing in society, we might just commit
Homicide rates are highest in urban areas
Because people are less connected in cities
Homicide rates lower in rural areas because of conventional ties
Travis Hirschi social bond theory
The more we are connected to conventional others in society, the less likely we
will commit delinquent acts
Four major bonds
1) Attachment: How close you are to conventional others
2) Involvement: How time you spend doing legitimate activities
3) Commitment: Measure of how dedicated you are to accomplishing your
4) Belief: You think the laws and norms of society make sense and should
Bonds through socialization
Take a look at their past
Was the person abused as a child? Was he a loner?
We look for something to explain the behaviour
A General Theory of Crime: PARENTING
Travis Hirschi & Michael Gottfredson
Two components lead to crime: Poor or absent parenting
With poor parenting, children do not l