Glossary for Crime and Deviance
The consensus or functionalist perspective is one that views society as a system consisting of mutually sustaining parts and characterized by broad normative consensus. All the various social institutions have their own particular specialized social functions to keep society running smoothly II. Sociological Positivism a. Causes of crime favored by sociologists in this tradition are compounds of a variety of social phenomena which are summarized by terms such as “social disorganization,” “anomie,” or “group conflict. The appreciation of the social context of criminal behavior is sociology’s greatest contribution to our understanding of crime III. Durkheim, Modernization, and Anomie a. Emile Durkheim: Anomie—Meaning “lacking in rules” or “normlessness” which Durkheim used to describe the condition of normative deregulation in society. b. Mechanical solidarity: Exists in small, isolated, and self-sufficient prestate society in which individuals, because they share common experiences and circumstances, share common values and develop strong emotional ties to the collectivity c.
Organic solidarity: Characteristic of modern societies in which there is a high degree of occupational specialization d. Durkheim argued that because crime is found at all times and in all societies, it is a normal and inevitable phenomenon e. Criminals and other deviants are useful in that they serve to identify the limits of acceptable behavior f. All people are said to aspire to maximize their pleasures, but deficiencies in “natural talent” will thwart some from attaining their goals legitimately IV. The Chicago School of Ecology . The first criminological theory to be developed in the United States was the Chicago school of human ecology b. Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay: Social ecology—describes the interrelations of human beings and the communities in which they live. Early social ecologists viewed the city as a super organism with “natural areas” differentially adaptive for different ethnic groups c. Shaw and McKay noted that the majority of delinquents always came from the same neighborhoods regardless of the ethnic composition of those neighborhoods V.
Social Disorganization a. Social disorganization: The breakdown, or serious dilution, of the power of informal community rules to regulate conduct b. The mix of peoples with limited resources, bringing with them a wide variety of cultural traditions sometimes at odds with traditional American middle-class norms of behavior, is not conducive to developing and/or maintaining a sense of community c. A neighborhood in the process of losing its sense of community was called a transition zone d.
Social disorganization is really the loss of neighborhood collective efficacy e. Collective efficacy: The shared power of a group of connected and engaged individuals to influence an outcome that the collective deems desirable f. The same things that predict the loss of collective efficacy are the same things that predict social disorganization g. Ways in which social disorganization contributes to crime and delinquency i. The lack of social controls in disorganized neighborhoods facilitates crime by failing to inhibit it ii.
The provision of positive incentives to engage in crime and delinquency h. Ecological fallacy: We cannot make inferences about individuals and groups on the basis of information derived from a larger population of which they are a part i. How do we know that differences in delinquency rates result from the aggregated characteristics of communities rather than the characteristics of individuals selectively aggregated into communities? VI. Strain Theory: Robert Merton’s Extension of Anomie Theory a.
Robert Merton: Strain theory views crime as a normal response to the conditions that limit the opportunities for some individuals to obtain the economic success for which we are all supposed to strive b. Anomie is the structural-cultural disjunction and strain they is the way people adapt to life in the context of anomie VII. Modes of Adaptation a. Five modes of adaptation that various people adopt in response to social pressure i. Conformity: Accept the success goals of American society, and the prescribed means of attaining them ii.
Ritualism: Rejects the cultural goals, but does not adapt in a criminal manner iii. Innovation: Accepts the validity of cultural goals, but rejects the legitimate means of attaining them iv. Retreatism: Rejects both the cultural goals, and the institutionalized means of attaining them; they are in society but not of it v. Rebellion: Reject both the goals and the means of capitalist American society, but unlike retreatists, rebels wish to substitute alternative legitimate goals and alternative legitimate means VIII. Institutional Anomie Theory . Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld: Institutional Anomie Theory (IAT) places the blame for the high crime rate in the United States unequivocally on the doorstep of the much-vaunted American Dream and its capitalist underpinnings b. High crime rates are intrinsic to the basic cultural commitments and institutional arrangements of American society c. Institutional Balance of Power: Subjugation of other institutions d. American culture tends to devalue the non-economic function and roles of other social institutions e.
The answer to the high crime rate in the United States is decommodification, which refers to social policies intended to free social relationships from economic considerations by freeing the operation of the other social institutions from the domination of the economy, or to at least gain a certain degree of balance IX. Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory a. Robert Agnew laid the foundation for a general strain theory b. Strain results from the removal of a positively valued stimuli or the presentation of negative stimuli c.
We all experience multiple strain throughout our lives, but the impact of strain differs according to its magnitude, recency, duration, and clustering d. The most important fact is not strain per se, but how one copes with it X. Subcultural Theories: Albert Cohen and Status Frustration a. Distinct criminal subcultures might develop, particularly among lower-class individuals because these are the people expected to feel the bite of blocked opportunity more sharply b.
Albert Cohen’s book Delinquent Boys proposed a mechanism by which lower-class youths adapt to the limited avenues of success open to them c. Short-run hedonism: The actor is seeking immediate gratification of his or her desires without regard for any long term consequences d. Much lower-class crime and delinquency is expressive rather than instrumental e. Though no fault of their own, young people lack access to middle-class avenues of approval and self-worth. Because they cannot adjust to what Cohen calls middle-class measuring rods, they experience status frustration f.
The real problem for Cohen is status frustration, not blocked opportunity. Lower-class youth desire approval and status, but because they cannot meet middle-class criteria, they become frustrated XI. Cloward and Ohlin’s Opportunity Structure Theory a. One of the most influential extensions of strain theory has been Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin’s opportunity structure theory, outlined in their book, Delinquency and Opportunity b. To obtain and take advantage of the most rewarding illegitimate opportunities, aspiring delinquents often need an “in” c.
Gang types that develop from the frustration generated by blocked opportunities: i. Criminal gangs ii. Conflict gangs iii. Retreatist gangs XII. Walter Miller’s Theory of Focal Concerns a. Gangs are not a reaction to status deprivation b. Miller asserted that lower-class behavior and values must be viewed on their own terms c. Six focal concerns that are part of a value system and a lifestyle that has emerged from the realities of life on the bottom rung of society i. Trouble confers status if it is the right type of trouble ii.
Toughness is very important to the status of lower-class males iii. Smartness refers to street smarts and is the ability to survive on the streets using one’s wits iv. Excitement is the search for fun v. Fate is a belief that the locus of control is external to oneself and a belief in “lady luck” vi. Autonomy means personal freedom d. The hard-core lower class lifestyle typified by these focal concerns catch those engaged in it in a web of situations that virtually guarantee delinquent and criminal activities XIII. Youth Gangs a.
Malcolm Klein defines a youth gang as: “any denotable adolescent group who (a) are generally perceived as a distinct aggregation by others in the neighborhood, (b) recognize themselves as a denotable group, and (c) have been involved in a sufficient number of delinquent incidents to call forth a consistent negative response from neighborhood residents and/or law enforcement agencies” XIV. The Increasing Prevalence of Gangs a. Gangs are more prevalent in the United States today than ever before b. It is the neighborhood of the marginalized and underclass that the most fertile soil for the growth of gangs exist XV.
Why do Young People Join Gangs? a. Joining a gang has almost become a survival imperative in some areas where unaffiliated youths are likely to be victimized b. Gang membership provides means of satisfying belongingness needs c. Gangs functions for many of its members as (1) family, (2) friendship group, (3) play group, (4) protective agency, (5) educational institution, and (6) employer XVI. Girls in Gangs a. Females are a minor part of the modern gang scene b. Girls join gangs for many of the same reasons that boys do c. Three basic types of female gang involvement i.
All-female gangs ii. Mixed gender gangs iii. Female auxiliaries of male gangs d. The vast majority of females gang delinquency consists of non-violent property and status offenses XVII. Evaluation of Social Structural Theories a. Ecological theory brought home one of the most universal demographic characteristics of crime, namely, its concentration in socially disorganized areas inhabited by economically deprived people b. Strain theories claim to explain particular types of crimes in terms of their prevalence in society, and not why one individual becomes criminal and another does not c.
General strain theory has been criticized as reductionist because of its emphasis of attempting to explain how people subjectively perceive and react to strain d. Subculture theories augment both ecological and anomie/strain theories by introducing the idea of subculture e. Focal concerns has attracted charges of racial insensitivity XVIII. Policy and Prevention: Implications of Social Structural Theories a. Social disorganization( Chicago Area Project: Treating communities from which offenders came. Shaw and McKay organized a number of programs aimed at generating or strengthening a sense of community within neighborhoods b.
Strain theory( If the cause of crime is a disjunction between cultural values emphasizing success for all and a social structure denying access to legitimate means of achieving it to some, then the cure for crime is to increase opportunities or to dampen aspirations c. Cloward and Ohlin developed a delinquency-prevention project known as Mobilization for Youth which concentrated on expanding legitimate opportunities for disadvantaged youths d. The policy recommendation flowing from institutional anomie theory would be those that tame the power of the market via decommodification e.
Any policy recommendation derived from subcultural theory would not differ in any significant ways from those derived from ecological or anomie/strain theories Key Terms Anomie Chicago area press Collective efficacy Consensus or Functionalist perspective Conformity Decommodification Ecological fallacy Focal concerns General strain theory Institutional anomie theory Institutional balance of power Mechanical solidarity Middle-class measuring rods Mobilization for youth Modes of adaptation Opportunity structure theory Organic solidarity Short-run hedonism Social ecology Social disorganization Social structure Status frustration Transition zone