Criminal Behavior: the Negative Attribution of Societal Nurturing

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Crime Pages: 9 (3006 words) Published: November 25, 2012

Criminal Behavior: The Negative Attribution of Societal Nurturing

Criminal Behavior: The Negative Attribution of Societal Nurturing
Imagine someone telling you that “you are the product of your environment”, what does that mean? Imagine a girl who has decided to pursue a career as a stripper. All of her friends are strippers and the new people she meets are those she has met while stripping. Would it be easy for her to quit that job? What would happen if she moved away and was surrounded by well-educated individuals? - Individuals who gave her strong social support and a good positive influence. What about the youth living in a deprived neighborhood, surrounded by small hopes and dreams for the future and low supervision? Is it possible that they become just like everyone else in their community? Let us compare an individual who lives in a disorganized community with an individual in a more organized and structured community, which one is more likely to develop criminal and delinquent behaviors? The purpose of this study is to investigate the measurable affirmation of criminal behavior contributing to a selective demographic based on three theories: social control theory, social learning theory, and strain theory. The idea in which the environment is the context within which all social relations occur has been brought to our attention by Lewin (1943) and can be used to make concept of a major factor in developing criminal and delinquent behaviors. Lewin proposed that the fundamental principle of social psychology research is that human behavior is a function of not only the person, but of the environment as well (Opotow & Gieseking, 2011). A large body of research has been done regarding the human behavior as a function of their “life space” and the person’s environment, such as neighborhoods, schools, work, and their friendships. Lewin states that particular places can serve as “contact zones” (Opotow & Gieseking, 2011) and support certain kinds of interaction. These “contact zones” are formed between people and the physical characteristics of the built and natural world they live in (Opotow & Gieseking, 2011). Social control theory, strain theory, and social learning theory were all proposed by a variety of researchers strongly supporting the link between environment and the development of criminal minds. The theories supported are thought of as individual-level processes (Hoffman, 2003).

The social control theory, for example, is the thought that community disorganization lessens bonding mechanisms by making parental supervision and interpersonal attachments more vague (Hoffman, 2003; Elliot et al., 1997; Shaw & McKay, 1931). With community disorganization comes little to no control. The community is usually distinguished by residential instability and a high ratio of broken families as well as single parents; reducing the likelihood of efficient socialization and supervision of the youth. A research study was conducted by Baskin & Sommers (2011) to determine whether placement instability played a role in developing delinquent/criminal behavior; results indicated that the children with more instability were more likely to be arrested and have a criminal record. Community disorganization reduces social support structure and weakens an important source of conformed bonding and success in socialization: effective parenting. Empirical research has sustained the idea that the influence of social bonds differs in each type of community and disorganized communities have a negative effect on the competence of social bonds to greatly reduce delinquent behavior. A lot of this is seen in our own communities and the communities surrounding us. It is all about where the person lives, where he goes to school, and whom he chooses to hang out with.
The initial development of the strain theory was developed by...

References: Hoffmann, John P. (2003). A contextual analysis of differential association, social control, and
strain theories of delinquency. Social Forces, 81, 753-785.
Baskin, Deborah R.; Sommers, Ira (2011). Child maltreatment, placement strategies, and
delinquency. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 36, 106-119.
Opotow, Susan; Gieseking, Jen (2011). Foreground and background: Environment as site and
social issue. Journal of Social Issues, 67, 179-196.
Stuart, Bryan (2004). Inside the criminal mind. Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 32, 547-549.
 No authorship indicated (1928). The problem of the mind. The Journal of Abnormal and Social
Psychology, 23, 1-3.
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