Sociological Theories of Criminal Behavior I: The Social-Structural Approach
Lionel Tate was only 12 when he killed his playmate, only 14 when he was tried and convicted in 2001 as an adult and sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole. In 2003, a Florida court ordered a new trial, ruling that Tate was entitled to a hearing on the issue of whether he understood the charges against him and could participate in his defense. The prosecutor offered the same plea bargain that Tate’s mother had rejected on his behalf prior to trial. Tate was released to his mother’s custody in January 2004. Later that year, Tate violated the terms of his release but was not jailed until he was arrested in 2005 for allegedly committing several crimes, including armed robbery. He entered guilty pleas and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Subsequently, Tate asked to withdraw those pleas on the grounds that his attorney was incompetent, but in October 2007, Tate’s 30-year prison term was upheld.
Key Terms Introduction Ecological Theories The Chicago School and Its Impact Contemporary Research on Urban Crime and Delinquency Anomie/Strain Theories The Classic Anomie Approach Durkheim’s Contributions Merton’s Contributions Contemporary Approaches Messner and Rosenfeld: Institutional Anomie Theory (IAT) Agnew: General Strain Theory (GST) Subculture Theories and Their Forerunners The Study of Gangs The Earlier Works Current Research and Policies on Gangs Female Gangs The Prevention of Gangs The Lower-Class Boy and Middle-Class Measuring Rod Neutralization and Drift Differential Opportunity Education and Delinquency The Lower-Class Boy and Lower-Class Culture Evaluation of Subculture Theories Crime and the Family Family Social Structures Family Power Relationships: Power-Control Theory The Routine Activity Approach The Conflict Perspective Background of the Modern Conflict Approach Culture and Group Conflict Power and Conflict Critical Criminology Instrumental Marxism Structural Marxism Integrated Structural-Marxist Theory Peacemaking Left Realist Theories
Postmodernism Evaluation of Critical Criminology Social-Structural Theories and Female Criminality Opportunity Theory and Women’s Liberation Strain Theory Critical Theory Feminist Theory Summary Study Questions Brief Essay Assignments Internet Activities Notes
anomie concentric circle conflict consensus critical criminology culture conflict theory differential opportunity doing gender ecological school feminist theory general strain theory (GST) institutional anomie theory (IAT) instrumental Marxism left realist theorists modernism peacemaking postmodernism power-control theory radical criminology routine activity approach status offenses strain theory structural Marxism structured action theory subculture
PART 2 / Explanations of Criminal Behavior
This chapter analyzes sociological theories of criminal behavior, focusing on those that consider society’s social structure or organization. The two basic approaches are consensus and conflict. The consensus approach views folkways, mores, and laws as reflections of society’s values, which arise out of group sharing, especially through voting. The result is that some acts are defined as wrong, even criminal, although some crime is seen as inevitable, even functional. In the conflict approach, criminal behavior emerges as a conflict between groups within society. There is a struggle: Someone wins, someone loses. Making and enforcing laws is a struggle, and those in power dominate the processes.
Previous chapters looked at beliefs that crime is the result of rational choice or that there is something about the offender, such as a biological or psychological...