CJA 384 wk 3

Topics: Sociology, Organized crime, Rational choice theory Pages: 5 (696 words) Published: November 24, 2014


Social Organized Crime Perspective Paper
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CJA/384
November 10, 2014
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Social Organized Crime Perspective Paper
In this paper, the writer will discuss and explain the term social institution, as it applies to organized crime. The writer will also discuss which empirical and speculative theories are most applicable when applied to organized crime and criminal behavior. Social Institution

The "Sociology Guide " (2014) website defines the term social institution as “a complex of positions, roles, norms and values lodged in particular types of social structures and organising relatively stable patterns of human activity with respect to fundamental problems in producing life-sustaining resources, in reproducing individuals, and in sustaining viable societal structures within a given environment.” It is easy to relate social institutions with organized crime groups; organized crime group are forms of social institutions. Organized crime organizations follow a complex structure of positions, roles and norms. Criminal crime organizations have their own social rules, norms and values that they adhere to and live by. They do not “rat” each other out, they follow orders, they live by the rule of law within their structure and they have consequences for those who do not follow these norms. Empirical and Speculative Theories

One of the most popular theories with organized crime is the alien conspiracy theory. This theory blames outsiders and their influences for the prevalence of organized crime in U.S. society. Over the years, images of well dressed immigrants with machine guns who live by the code of silence have becoem associated with this theory (Lyman & Potter, 2007, Chapter 1). This theory states that the mafia was born and gained prominence during the 1860s in Sicily, and that those immigrants have since become responsible for the foundations of U.S. organized crime. There are about twenty-five Italian crime families known as the La Cosa Nostra; this group has about 1,700 members (Lyman & Potter, 2007, Chapter 1).

Although this theory is widely supported, there is controversy surrounding the theory. An apparent contradiction of the alien conspiracy theory is the simple fact that virtually every U.S. city had well-developed organized crime syndicates long before the large-scale Italian immigration of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Skeptics believe that this theory is only an excuse for the authorities inability to eliminate organized crime. This theory also poses as a cover for corrupt officials (Lyman & Potter, 2007, Chapter 1).

The rational choice theory states that regardless of the reason for committing a crime, the decision to do so is a rational decision. Criminals first outweigh the benefits and consequences of their actions. This theory was first referred to as a classical theory; It perceived people as free agents who are able to make rational choices in virtually all aspects of their lives (Lyman & Potter, 2007, Chapter 1). An example of this theory is a person who makes the rational decision to make his or her money by dealing drugs. This criminal knows this is against the law, they understand the consequences, but still makes the decision to do so. Or the spouse who catches their significant other cheating and kills them and their lover. This person also knew what they were doing was wrong, but decided to kill anyways.

This theory emphasizes quick and harsh punishments in order to deter criminals from making the same criminal choices. This theory also does not take the criminals background or surrounding circumstances into consideration. This theory believes in the pleasure- pain principle that suggests that the punishment should be equal to the crime. Conclusion

In conclusion, organized crime groups are social institutions. There are many theories that cover organized crime. Still, every organized crime group has...
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