CHAPTER FOUR: SOCIAL STRUCTURAL THEORIES
I. The Social Structural Tradition
a. The task of sociological criminology is to discover why social animals commit antisocial acts b. Social structure: How society is organized by social institutions—the family, and educational, religious, economic, and political institutions—and stratified on the basis of various roles and statuses c. Structural theorists are more interested in seeking causes of group crime rates rather than why particular individuals commit crimes d. 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
a. 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...
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