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Chapter 6 Social Structure Theory

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1 Chapter 6 Social Structure Theory
Criminology 9TH Edition Larry J. Siegel © 2003 Wadsworth Publishing Co.

2 Questions What is a stratified society?
What is the culture of poverty? How do these two issues affect class, race, and culture?

3 Social Structure Theories
Criminal Behavior Patterns Are Affected By: Places - Places not people cause crime, i.e., deteriorated lower-class areas. Socioeconomic placement in society can influence the potential for criminal behavior, i.e., unable to attain social or economic success.

4 Social Structure Theories: The Underlying Premise
The real crime problem is a lower class phenomenon. Those that live in equivalent social environments tend to behave in a predictable fashion. If the environment did not affect human behavior, then crime rates would be dispersed equally across the social structure.

5 The Three Branches of Social Structure Theory

6 Social Disorganization Theory

7 Social Disorganization Theory: Concentric Zone Theory
MAJOR PREMISE Crime is a product of transitional neighborhoods that manifest social disorganization and value conflict. STRENGTHS Identifies why crime rates are highest in slum areas. Points out the factors that produce crime. Suggests programs to help reduce crime.

8 Shaw and McKay’s Concentric Zones Map of Chicago

9 Factors That Affect Crime The Social Ecology School
Transitional neighborhoods Community deterioration Poverty concentration Employment opportunities Community fear, i.e., race, gangs, mistrust. Community change Collective efficacy, i.e., informal, institutional, and public social control

10 Social Disorganization Theories

11 Question According to social disorganization theory, how does fear
affect a ‘disorganized’ neighborhood?

12 Strain Theories Crime is a direct result of the
frustration and anger of the lower-class to achieve culturally defined goals, i.e., wealth, success, power; however, the means to acquire these goals are stymied by the stratification of class and status in society.

13 The Basic Components of Strain Theory

14 Anomie Durkheim: Norms have broken down because of rapid social change, i.e., traditions and values. Merton: Culturally defined goals and socially approved means for obtaining them have broken down, i.e., education and hard work. Messner and Rosenfeld: The American Dream as a goal and a process. Crime becomes the strategy for attaining wealth.

15 Why would Durkheim suggest that crime may be beneficial to society?
Question Why would Durkheim suggest that crime may be beneficial to society?

16 Strain Theory: Anomie Major Premise Strengths
People who adopt the goals of society but lack the means to attain them seek alternatives, such as crime. Major Premise Points out how competition for success creates conflict and crime. Suggests that social conditions and not personality can account for crime. Can explain middle- and upper-class crime. Strengths

17 Elements of General Strain Theory

18 Strain Theory: General Strain Theory
Strain has a variety of sources. Strain causes crime in the absence of adequate coping mechanisms. Major Premise Identifies the complexities of strain in modern society. Expands on anomie theory. Shows the influence of social events on behavior over the life course. Strengths

19 Sources of General Strain (Individual)
Social: peer or social group. Community factors: ecological, i.e., goals, economic deprivation, interaction of frustrated individuals. Negative affective states: failure to achieve goals or expectations, the loss of positive stimuli, i.e., friend or family member; and, presentation of negative stimuli, i.e., abuse. Causes: fear, anger, depression, frustration, and disappointment.

20 Relative Deprivation Theory
Perceptions of economic and social inequality lead to feelings of envy, mistrust, and aggression Lower-class people feel both deprived and embittered Minorities feel relative deprivation more acutely than non-minorities

21 Strain Theories

22 Questions How would trait theories interact with strain theories?
Could strain theories explain chronic offending? If so, in what way?


24 What are the elements of cultural deviance theory?
Question What are the elements of cultural deviance theory?

25 Elements of Cultural Deviance Theory

26 Cultural Deviance Theory: Sellin’s Culture Conflict Theory
STRENGTHS Identifies the aspects of lower-class life that produce street crime. Adds to Shaw and McKay’s analysis. Creates the concept of culture conflict MAJOR PREMISE Obedience to the norms of their lower-class culture puts people in conflict with the norms of the dominant culture.

27 Questions According to Walter Miller, what are the “focal concerns”
or values that affect lower-class culture. How do these “focal concerns” affect the lower-class and crime?

28 Cultural Deviance Theories

29 Are Social Structure Theories Valid or Invalid?
Those who believe they are valid point to: high crime and delinquency rates in inner-city slums each branch seems to support and amplify the others appearance that the concepts may be interdependent Those who believe they are invalid point to: lower-class crime rates may be artifacts of bias a significant number of people living in the slums are not criminal it’s questionable whether a distinct lower-class culture actually exists

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