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Crime and Deviance Why are the rates of violent and property crime so high in the US? What policies might be more effective in lowering them? Contrast.

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Presentation on theme: "Crime and Deviance Why are the rates of violent and property crime so high in the US? What policies might be more effective in lowering them? Contrast."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crime and Deviance Why are the rates of violent and property crime so high in the US? What policies might be more effective in lowering them? Contrast functional and conflict analyses

2 Functional vs. Conflict Re crime and delinquency Most functional accounts see punishment as the authoritative statement of norms, reducing crime. But most conflict theories see punitive strategies as increasing the stigma and social disorganization on which crime and delinquency thrive.

3 Functional vs. Conflict Re terrorism today With respect to Saddam Hussein or Hamas, the functional account is like those who argue that a severe punitive response will reduce terrorism. While the conflict account is like those who argue that punitive raids merely contribute to the cycle of retaliation and immiseration.

4 In Israel today Strike directed against Hamas. Substantial civilian casualties. (14 dead, ranging in age from 14 to 52; 25 in critical condition; 100 wounded) A blow against terror? Or for it? Are we responsible? Opposed? Uninvolved?

5 Israeli Statements: The two missile strikes: “We were forced to make a strike, a direct hit into an armed people.” Civilians: “ If damage was caused to innocent civilians, we can be sorry, but what can you do – this is war.”

6 Palestinian statements: Palestinian authority: “The Israelis do not want quiet. Every time we come close, they come and make an attack.” “How can we calm our people? What can we tell them now?” Hamas: “Killing civilians should be pnished by killing civilians.

7 The United States’ role The U.S. State Department, while recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself, said it was “deeply troubled” by yesterdays raid and other raids in which civilians have been killed.

8 Chomsky’s position The US has given active support to many terrorist states (Hussein, Contras, Indonesia) The victims do not forget. Israel is one such client state. If an intellectual attacks “their” (i.e. Hamas’) terror, it will have no effect except to escalate the cycle of retaliation and violence. But that is what most will do, because it will be rewarded as patriotic and reasonable. If an intellectual attacks “our” terror, it will moderate and restrain the cycle But such a person will be attacked and dismissed as un-American.

9 Rates, Structures, Social Facts In many ways the analysis of crime and deviance takes us back to the origins of sociology in Chicago. Areas of high poverty have rates of crime that are 10 or 20 times as high as areas with low rates of poverty. Chicago sociologists explained these rates by social disorganization, which they related either to norms or to economic and social resources.

10 International variation The text stresses that “patterns of criminal behavior grow out of the structure of society rather than from the psyches of individuals” *289 For example the rates of homicide in the US are about 10 times higher than those in Europe or Canada. Rates of imprisonment in the US are also about 10 times higher than other advanced industrial societies E.g. world ratesworld rates

11 Temporal variation Even over fairly recent periods, there have been huge swings in the crime rate. Homicide is one of the best-measured crimes It showed: A 5-fold increase A sharp decrease A sharp increase A sharp decrease in the 1990’s Why?

12 Recent Homicide Trends in the United States

13 Why? What might explain the two main periods of sharp increase ( and )? What might explain the two main periods of sharp decrease during the New Deal ( ) and during the Clinton era ( )? There is an enormous amount that we do not know about each, but there is a certain amount that we do know. And we know that the simple, popular answers are almost certainly oversimplified.

14 Functional theory of Crime and delinquency Centers on the concepts of anomie and weakening of solidary groups. Higher rates of men, singles, cities, adolescents, children from broken families… Anomie is a weakening of norms. By almost any measure, the US shows weakening of both norms and families,etc., and the poor areas of the US show very, very high levels.

15 Social Patterns of Crime and Delinquency The age and sex pattern of crime and delinquency is very similar to suicide. Weakening of an adolescent’s tie to family, school, community or career (job-track) greatly increases their risk. Network ties and gang structures further increase it. Racial and ethnic fractionalization contributes to and accentuates all these processes.

16 Functional theory of Punishment Durkheim argued that sanctions against norm violation define the norms. e.g. the negative feedback loop: But what are the side effects of negative sanctions? Violation of norms + - Negative sanctions

17 Merton’s theory of Strain and Anomie Merton * (p. 93; 117; 135; 141; ) was a student of Parsons. He is still active in American sociology. Merton argued that anomie is produced by structural strain**, a discrepancy between cultural goals and the availability of legitimate means for attaining those goals.** “Structural strain” is a relative of Durkheim’s concept of the “forced division of labor**” resulting from inherited property.**

18 Goals and legitimate means In premodern societies with fixed social position, there was no assumption that anyone could be a material success if they tried hard enough, but in modern society there is such a goal (“organic solidarity,” “American Creed,” “American Dream”). Nevertheless, Merton suggested, if there is (a perception of) highly unequal opportunity, that leads to pressure either to shift goals or to adopt illegitimate means

19 Merton’s typology Goal Means Concept Example + + Conformist Executive - + Ritualist Librarian who guards books; bureaucratic personality + - Innovator Drug dealer; Enron executive - - Retreatist Alcoholic or addict ± ± Rebellion Someone who rejects both goals and means and works to substitute new ones.

20 Conflict Theories of Crime There is a very strong (negative) association between social class and most forms of crime. Part of that relation may result from differential enforcement (e.g. having a good lawyer). Part may result from the different constraints under which people make choices: E LA v There is virtually universal adolescent deviance, but not all adolescents are labeled as criminals and locked into lives of crime.

21 How could crime control promote further crime? For example, a recent Scientific American Article on US crime suggests that the high imprisonment rates in the US may actually increase crime ratesScientific American Article By further stigmatizing people disorganizing communities, And serving as schools of crime. Either of these processes might produce addictive, cancerous feedback.

22 Review of conflict themes We have seen that race and social class are associated with cumulating disadvantages in many ways. E.g. 187; networks, Code of the Street These phenomena can be accentuated by deviant solidary groups, and the criminal justice system may produce stigma and a “record” that further amplifies the process.

23 Labeling theory Labeling theory argues that many forms of labeling by schools, courts, and mental hospitals actually increase deviance. The label becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” “Primary deviance” *p.284 is then compounded by “secondary deviance”* Secondary deviance is that caused by the label or attempt at control Secondary deviance creates a positive feedback

24 Schools for Crime Prisons and reform schools usually do not improve inmates’ character or life chances. Antagonism with guards and officers creates a deviant reference group. Stigmatization and lowered life chances weakens any bond to the rest of the society. 99% will get out. What will they be like?

25 The Vicious cycle Conflict theories stress ways that crime may be part of a vicious cycle of powerlessness and lack of resources. Lack crime criminal of resources lack of defense record Secondary deviance

26 The Macro Vicious Cycle Some theorists suggest that the society can be caught in a vicious cycle in which the more we imprison, the more we need to imprison. Crime imprisonment social disorg. Many societies have gotten caught in a cycle of increased coercion and crime. ++ +

27 Disorganizing communities From 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 people are in the criminal justice system. In many poor communities it goes over 1/3 of the adolescent male population, Each person incarcerated then affects about 10 other people – e.g. young women who are not going to be able to find a husband.

28 Chambliss: The Saints and the Roughnecks Appearance: The upper status saints appeared to be model students who were not in trouble with the law The lower status roughnecks had miserable academic records and most of them ended up with police records as well. It appeared low social class delinquency

29 Chambliss’ account of the reality The saints committed more and more serious crimes and an equal number of academic infractions. Their demeanor, network and parents’ protection kept them from being labeled They had cars. And so, he suggests, the real difference was class. Reality: low social class labeling and stigma


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