Social Structure Theory Research Paper
Crime Theory and Causes 2041
May 8, 2013
The easiest way that I can explain social structure theory is by using examples from my own life. I grew up in the projects with my single drug addict mother and my little sister. From birth I was raised surrounded by drugs, violence, prostitution and many other crimes. My mom has never worked and we grew up on nothing but government aid. All these things were the perfect environments to create criminals. I was a direct product of my environment growing up. Since from when I can remember, I grew up getting into fights, robbing house, breaking into cars, and using and selling drugs. This was all a normal life to me. It is what I grew up knowing. Only knowing this life and was able to justify it full heartedly. I was kicked out of high school for fighting and was just headed down the worse path possible. I was following everyone that I grew up around. Finally I took some advice from someone elder that told me back in middle school that thankfully stuck with me. “If you want to be like someone and have the things they have, surround yourself with those people and do what they do”. From then on I have been able to take control of my life and become a functioning and successful member of society. I went and got my diploma. Then went to college in Kansas for criminal justice. After that I joined the military. Now I am out and seeking to further my education. I drive the car I dreamt of driving as a kid and about to have my first kid with my beautiful and also successive girlfriend. All of this made possible simply by changing my surrounding environment.
Social structure theory is defined Siegel (2011), “The view that disadvantaged economic class position is a primary cause of crime” (pg. 470). I believe this to be true. Growing up in the projects a lot of things were not viewed as crimes in our subculture. Something as simple as fighting was a daily thing to be in or to watch in a struggle for power and respect, but in societies outside of our realm that is unbelievable. Growing up in the projects you have to become tough fast. According to Anderson (1999), “These children of the street, growing up with little supervision, are said to “come up hard.” They often learn to fight at an early age, using short-tempered adults around them as role models” (pg. 49). We grew up doing what we saw and were taught. Growing up I had no clue that these things were even slightly that wrong because it was of our social norms. Norms are defined as Henslin (2012), “expectations of “right” behavior” (pg. 45). If someone disrespected my family, my neighborhood, or me I was expected to fight and that is how we resolved things. By doing this I received positive sanctions from my family and the block. Positive sanctions are defined as Henslin (2012), “a reward or positive reaction for following norms, ranging from a smile to a material reward” (pg. 45). Other social norms that I grew up learning and doing was selling drugs. Growing up this wasn’t frowned upon by any adult on the block and was encouraged by my mother so I could bring some money into the house. Part of the study of the social structure theory and the study of the information gathered is positivism. In the book The Structure of Social Theory it describes positivism as Johnson (1984) “Positivism is most frequently used to refer to the extension of empiricist models of natural science to the field of human action, by arguing for either a methodological or substantive unity of the two. The claim for methodological unity leads to behaviorism, while the latter implies reductionist explanations, i.e. the explanation of human action in terms of either ‘heredity’ or ‘environment’.” (pg. 32). According to Henslin (2012) “It was first proposed by Auguste Comte (1798-1857)” (pg. 10). Since we can study people’s actions and be able to understand them as...
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