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FSU CCJ 3011 - Chapter 6- Social Structure Theories

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Exam 3 Outline Chapters: 6,7,8,9 Chapter 6- Social Structure Theories Socioeconomic Structure and Crime -People in the US live in a stratified society. Social Strata are created by the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and prestige. -The poorest 20% of society earn annual about $10,000 per year, 3% of country aggregate income. -The richest 20% earn 150,000 per year, over 50% of country aggregate income - The Underclass -In 1966, sociologist Oscar Lewis argued that the crushing lifestyle of lower-class areas produced a culture of poverty, which is passed from one generation to the next. -- First study to describe the predicament of at-risk children -In 1970, Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal described a worldwide underclass that was cut off from society, its members lacking the education and skills needed to be effectively in demand in modern society. - Child Poverty -The timing of poverty is important! Findings show that poverty during childhood has a more severe impact on behavior then poverty during adolescence and adulthood. - Minority Group Poverty -25% of African Americans and 22% of Hispanics live in poverty compared to 8% Whites and 11% Asians. -About 25% of children in the US live in poverty. -truly disadvantaged: lowest level of underclass -underemployment in a community destroys social cohesion, increasing the presence of neighborhood social problems, ranging from drug use to educational failure. Social Structure Theories -crime data shows that crime rates are highest in neighborhoods characterized by poverty and social disorder -social structure theories: suggest that social and economic forces operating in deteriorating lower-class areas are the key determinant of criminal behavior patterns.-social structure theorists challenge those who suggest that crime is an expression of some personal trait or individual choice. SOCIAL STRUCTURE PERSPECTIVE -Social disorganization theory: focuses on the conditions within the urban environment that affect crime rates. -Ex.) Deteriorating neighborhoods, inadequate social control, law-violating gangs, and conflicting social values -Strain theory: holds that crime is a function of the conflict between the goals people have and the means they can use to obtain them legally. --strain: anger, frustration, resentment towards society -Ex.) Unequal distribution of wealth and power, frustration, and alternative methods of achievement -Cultural deviance theory: because of strain and socialization, a unique lower-class culture develops in disorganized neighborhoods. These independent subcultures maintain a unique set of values and beliefs that are in conflict with conventional social norms. Criminality is an expression of conformity to lower-class subcultural values and traditions and not a rebellion from conventional society. Subcultural values are handed down from one generation to the next in a process called cultural transmission. -Ex.) Development of subcultures as a result of disorganization and stress, and subcultural values in opposition to conventional values - Social Disorganization Theory -links crime rates to neighborhoods ecological characteristics. - Foundations of Social Disorganization Theory -Shaw and McKay, linked life in disorganized transitional urban areas to neighborhood crime rates. -Chicago, 1920’s - Transitional Neighborhoods -high rates of population turnover and were incapable of inducing residents to remain and defend the neighborhoods against criminal groups. The Social Ecological School- Community deterioration -focus on crime rates and community deterioration -neighborhoods with a high percentage of deserted houses and apartments experience high crime rates and poverty - Chronic Unemployment -No clear evidence between unemployment and crime -A possibility is that even though short-term national economic trends may have little effect on crime, long term local unemployment rates have a more significant impact on conditions at the community or neighborhood level. - Community Fear -People feel safe in neighborhoods with order; however people who live in neighborhoods with social and physical incivilities (graffiti, burned down buildings, prostitutes, loiterers, etc) are much more likely to be fearful. -siege mentality: residents become suspicious of authority, so they develop a mentality in which the outside world is considered the enemy out to destroy the neighborhood. - Collective Efficacy -cohesive communities, whether urban or rural, with high levels of social control and social integration, where people know one another and develop interpersonal ties, may also develop collective efficacy: mutual trust, a willingness to intervene in the supervision of children, and the maintenance of public order. COLLECTIVE EFFICACY 1) Informal Social Control: exert informal control by either awarding or withholding approval, respect, or admiration. Ex.) The family is most important; it can keep at-risk children in check 2) Institutional Social Control: Institutions such as schools and churches that function to provide programs that are alternatives to for children joining gangs. 3) Public Social Control: neighborhoods draw on outside help and secure external resources, to be better able to reduce the levels of disorganization and maintain lower levels of crime and victimization. -Street efficacy: in stable areas, kids are able to use their wits to avoid violent confrontations and to feel safe in their neighborhood. Strain Theory-most people share the same goals, however the ability to achieve these goals stratified by socioeconomic class - The Concept of Anomie -roots of strain theory can be traced to Emile Durkheim’s notion of anomie (“without norms”) -According to Durkheim an anomic society is one in which rules of behavior (values, customs, and norms) have broken down or become inoperative during periods of rapid social change or social crisis such as war or famine. -Mechanical solidarity: a characteristic of pre-industrial society, which is held together by traditions, shared values, and unquestioned beliefs. -Organic solidarity: postindustrial social systems, which are highly developed and dependent upon the division of labor; people are connected by their interdependent needs for one another’s services and production. - Merton’s Theory of Anomie -Durkheim’s ideas were applied to criminology by sociologist Robert Merton in his theory of anomie: developed to fit


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