Through out history, sociologists have conjured different perspectives on society and social behavior, and from these observations sociological theories have been established. This paper will be focusing on one of these theories, which is the symbolic interactionist perspective. According to symbolic interactionist perspectives, society is the sum of the interactions of individuals and groups (Murray, Linden, & Kendall, 2011, p.20). These theorists emphasize on the interaction between one another and the symbols that represent meaning in human communication. This paper will be exploring the cause and effect of youth crime and analyzing this issue through a symbolic interactionist perspective. The Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
According to McClelland (2009), interactionists focus on the subjective aspects of social life, rather than on objective, macro-structural aspects of social systems. Unlike functional theorists, Interactionists focus on the human being rather than the society as a whole. Functionalist and conflict theorists focus mainly on a macrolevel analysis, while symbolic interactionist approaches are based on a microlevel analysis. George Herbert Mead and Herbert Bloomer are accredited thinkers in contributing to this theory. They believed that society is the sum of interactions of individuals and groups and that symbols are created to represent something meaningful. Understanding these symbols that are created will help understand human behavior. This perspective focuses mainly on our actions as human beings and how those actions can be interpreted in society. This is explained further by, the process is further aided by our ability to think about and to react to our own actions and even our selves as symbolic objects. Thus, the interactionist theorist sees humans as active, creative participants who construct their social world, not as passive, conforming objects of socialization ( McClelland, 2009).
In society, not all members may choose to follow the rules and expectations and may contribute to the well being of the society in a negative way. All societies have some degree of defiance, which is described as – any behavior, belief, or condition that violates cultural norms in the society or group in which it occurs ( Murray et al., 2011, p. 169). This defiance is considered to be a threat to the social control of the society. Symbolic interactionists focus on how people learn what is appropriate in society through socializing with others. According to symbolic interactionists, deviance is learned in the same way as conformity- through interaction with others ( Murray et al., 2011, p. 173). Youth Crime
According to statistics, in 2009, police identified nearly 165,000 youth accused of committing a crime. These included youth who were either charged (or recommended for charging) by police (42%) or dealt with by means other than the formal laying of a charge (58%) (Bressan & Taylor- Butts, 2008). Age is an important factor when viewing youth crime and deviance. “ Arrests increase from early adolescence, peak in young adult hood, and steadily decline with age” (Murray et al., 2011, p. 186). Youth crime is a growing as speak because of the many situations that adolescences may find themselves in, such as peer pressure and pressure of becoming an adult. This specific generation may carry attitudes that because they are minors, that the punishment may not be as harsh as opposed to being charged as an adult. Research shows that, “ harsher sentences for youths (or adults) do not reduce reoffending. Nor would harsher sentences deter others” (Doob & McMurtry, 2011). Even if the government were to impose harsher punishments for youth, this would still not stop youth from reoffending. The most important tactic to help reduce youth crime would be to encourage positive attitudes upon these youth. To do this, theory shows that putting youth in an environment with people who are unlikely to commit a crime...
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Murray, J. L., Linden, R., & Kendall. D. (2011). Sociology in our times: The essentials.
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