Chapter 7 Notes

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Woodsworth College Courses
Jim Davies

Criminology in Canada: Chapter 7: Social Structure Theories Natural areas: zones or neighborhoods with shared characteristics that develop as a result of social forces operating in urban areas; some become natural areas for crime Chicago School: Pioneering research on the social ecology of the city and study of urban crime development in the early 20 century by colleagues in sociology at the University of Chicago Sociological Criminology - Criminologist look at how criminal patterns exist with society, how they can be predicted and how they can be controlled - Sociologist looks at social change and the dynamic aspects of human behavior - Most children grow up to occupy the same social class position as their parents - Understanding the links between families, peers, schools and work is important to understanding of crime - Concerned with the benefits of positive human interactions and the costs of negative interactions - Concerns about the ecological distribution of crime, the effect of social change, and the interactive nature of crime itself has made sociology the foundation of crime Economic Structure and Crime - All societies are characterized by stratification into social classes o Upper, middle, lower-class citizens - 20% of Canadian children live in low-income households - According to World Vision, those living in poverty are made up of new immigrants, Aboriginal people and families headed by single mothers o 40% live in urban centers, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancity - Occupational strain is more likely to be solved through crime Inequality - Culture 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 on-going - Underclass: a world described by Gunnar Myrdal as being cut off from society, its members lacking the education and skills needs to survive the culture becomes a breeding ground for criminality Are the Poor Undeserving? - Those living in poverty face lack of financial resources, suffer from cognitive development, sexual and family formation practices … etc o Most of those are children, will probably spend the rest of their lives living in poverty Unemployment and Crime - Unemployed individuals are more likely to commit crime - Crime rates peaked in the 1930s; The Great Depression - Early behavior patterns become stable, lifelong habits and tendencies – Hagan Branches of Social Structure Theory - Social structure theory: an approach that looks at the effects of class stratification in society - Social factors affect children at a young age and continue throughout their life - Social structure theories do not agree that crime is caused by psychological imbalance, biological traits, insensitivity to social controls, personal choice or any other individual-level- factor - The three branches of social structure theory: Social disorganization Strain theory Cultural deviance theory theory Conditions in the Goals and means Combination of the two environment - Deteriorated - Unequal - Development of neighborhoods distribution of subculture as a - Inadequate social wealth and power result of control - Frustration disorganization and - Law-violating - Alternative stress gangs and groups methods of - Subcultural values - Conflicting social achievement in opposition to values conventional values Social Disorganization Theory Poverty - Development of isolated slums - Lack of conventional social opportunities - Racial and ethnic discrimination Social disorganization - Breakdown of social institutions and organizations such as schools and family - Lack of informal social control Breakdown of social control - Development of gangs, groups - Peer groups replaces family and social institutions Criminal areas - Neighborhood becomes crime-prone - Stable pockets of delinquency develop - Lack of external support and investment Cultural transmission - Older youths pass norms to younger generation, creating stable sum culture Criminal careers - Most youths “age out” of delinquency, marry and raise families, but some remain in a life of crime - Blocks attempts at solving neighborhood problems or establishing common goals Concentric Zone Theory Transitional Neighborhoods - Shaw and McKay: crime and delinquency within the context of the changing urban environment and ecological development of the city - Chicago had developed into distinct “natural areas”, some affluent and others wracked by extreme poverty - Transitional neighborhoods: an area undergoing a shift in population and structure, usually from middle-class residential to lower-class mixed use - 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 Concentric Zones - Heaviest concentration of crime appeared in the transitional inner-city zones, where large numbers of foreign-born citizens had recently settled - Value conflict: the clash of deviant values of teenage low-violating groups, an element of youthful misbehavior, with middle-class norms, which demand obedience to the law The Legacy of Shaw and McKay - Crime is a result of the destructive ecological conditions in urban slums - Criminal activity is a normal response to adverse conditions - Focus on the social influence on criminal and delinquent behavior The Social Ecology School - Social disorganization tradition was kept alive by area studies showing that ecological conditions, predicted a high incidence of delinquency - Social ecologist: those whose approach looks to community-level indictors of social disorganization, including disorder, poverty, alienation, disassociation and fear of crime Community Deterioration - Crime rates are associated with community-level indicators of social disorganization - Messner found that, the percentage of people living in poverty and the percentage of single-parent homes are strongly related to neighborhood crime rates - Pratt and Godsey found that social support, institutional anomie, and general strain perspectives are important explanation of aggregate levels of crime o Level of available social support = homicide rates o Economic inequality = homicide rates o Low social support and high economic inequality = homicide rates - Crime rates in countries with similar socio-economic conditions Employment opportunities - Crime rates sometimes rise during periods of economic prosperity and fall during periods of economic decline Community Fear - Fear helps produce more crimes, as people decrease their level of ownership and stay off the streets, increasing the chances of victimization, producing fear ..etc. Siege Mentality - 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 neighborhood Population Turnover - A culture may develop new standards of dress, language, and behavior that are in opposition to those of conventional society Community Change - Cycles of change, where deterioration precedes increasing rates of crime and delinquency - The link between poverty, family disorganization, and crime shows that importance of providing community supports to the family, especially through programs targeting families in poverty Poverty Concentration - Concentration effect: the outcome when middle-class families flee inner-city 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 Weak Social Controls - Stable neighborhoods are able to arrange for external sources of social control Collective Efficacy 1. Informal
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