The Effects of Society on Criminality

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By MICHAEL SMITH
04/13/2013

The structure of society and its degree of organization are important factors in how they contribute to criminality. Within society there are negative influences of the social environment that contribute to and predispose some people to commit crimes. There are three types of social structure theories that focus on crime and they are social disorganization, strain theory, and culture conflict. These theories examine social structure, social process, social life and how they influence criminal behavior of groups of people. In America the government, television, institutions, families, and communities to name a few play a huge role in the world years ago and today in why people commit crimes.

Society is defined in one dictionary as an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes. Also in another dictionary defined as a part of a community that is a unit distinguishable by particular aims or standards of living or conduct. These definitions alone alienate some people apart and characterize or place them into particular groups. This labeling by society generally has a place for all individuals but is their labeling right or wrong overall? This labeling not only places individuals into a group setting but also tends to eliminate certain individuals or groups of people from particular groups, activities or communities etc., based on age, sex, religious preference, economic status and other cultural differences. When this is done it can cause people to act out against the individual or group in a negative way through violent or other criminal behavior.

In reference to criminology we can identify three key sociological explanations for crime they are: crime is the result of an individual’s location within the structure of society, crime is the end product of various social processes, and crime is the end product of class struggle. These three key explanations basically cover aspects of life that can influence criminal behavior. In some situations the area that you live in can tremendously affect the behavior of people to make them act out and commit criminal acts because of the presence of criminal behavior in their community. These areas are usually crime ridden because of the poverty level or people being displaced from other regions. W.I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki- “The Polish Peasant in Europe and America” (1920) believed that crime rose amongst people who had been so displaced. This crime rise resulted from immigrant’s inability to successfully transplant guiding norms and values from their home culture into their new one. This crime rise became known as the social disorganization theory that depicts social change, social conflict, and lack of social consensus as the root cause of crime and deviance. This is not only prevalent for people coming from other countries and regions but also for those born and raised in America. In most homes values and positive morals are taught to children but when they are also faced with peer rejection and rejection from other social classes it is hard to hold to the positive things that are taught in the home. This is true for adults in society also if at times faced with adversities and rejection and alienation from other economic classes, social and cultural groups will cause individuals and groups of people to react in a negative and criminal manner as pay back for the treatment.

Crime and deviance arise out of an attempt to obtain the legitimate goals as set by society, but through illegitimate means. The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues that criminals steal status items in order to appear ‘normal’ within a materialistic society. Television provides a false normal to its viewers about what life should be like and what type of things people should possess to fit in the world...
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