Presentation on theme: "Sociological Approaches"— Presentation transcript:
1 Sociological Approaches “Criminals” are not different ( bio, psych)---their circumstances are differentFocus on underlying social problemsand crime rates (not individuals)Major focus on preventing crime by changingthe underlying conditions/causes“social stress”
2 Sociological Approaches The Pluralist Model “Liberal”Govt/Law as “Referee”vs.The Conflict Model "Critical/Radical"Govt/Law shaped/controlled by elites intheir own interests A “Ruling Class” ??
3 Sociological Approaches The Key Criminology Question: What socialand cultural factors generate patterns of crimehigh crime rateslow crime rateschanging crime ratesalso patterns within the larger patternsage, gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
4 Sociological Approaches Note: Both also look critically at theprocesses of criminalization- how do some people (and not others) come to be treated as “criminals”(male/female, rich/poor, street/corp, etc.)
5 Sociological Approaches Several broad approaches:Social Disorganization TheoriesSocial Control TheoriesLabeling Theory- Integrative Theories
6 Sociological Approaches Social Disorganization TheoriesUrbanization and “Anomie” (European)The Chicago School (American)“Ecology” and material instability
7 Sociological Approaches Robert Merton and Strain theoriesGoals/Means “disorganization”Subculture theories (structuralist)Culture conflictLower class subcultureSubculture of violence
8 Sociological Approaches Social Control TheoriesWalter Reckless - Containment theoryInner and outer "pushes and pulls"Travis Hirschi - Social Bond theoryAttachment
9 Sociological Approaches Labeling theoryPrimary and Secondary devianceThe Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
10 Sociological Approaches Problems with Soc approachesPluralist and Conflict issuesSample selection bias (still!)“Criminology as science” dilemmaInfluencing social policy
11 Sociological Approaches Comment -Criminology is too complicated and confusingfor much of the public - “sound-bite culture”Individual approaches are simple, reinforcecommon biases and stereotypes, are reinforcedby politicians and the media, and generally fitwith our fascination with exceptional cases andthe maze-like legal process.
12 Sociological Approaches Integrative Theoriesare a response to problems with sociologicalapproaches. They seek to combine the bestelements of other theories, and work theminto a single larger framework --Robert Merton (early attempt)- Crime and the American Dream
13 Sociological Approaches Robert Merton - Key Concepts:Culture of individualism and competitionBlocked opportunityStrain and AnomieDeviant adaptationsMerton’s “Logic Table” of adaptations
14 Sociological Approaches GOALS MEANS Conformist "poor but honest"Innovatorinventor, entrepreneur, criminalRitualist"bureaucratic mentality"
16 Sociological Approaches Blocked Opportunity = “Want but can’t have”But what shapes particular responses to strain and anomie?(what influences people to innovate, retreat, etc.?)Note: These are specific crim theories
17 Sociological Approaches Differential AssociationOne factor is important associations –friends, family, neighbors, etc. What "reference groups" do is a powerful influence on what people do. Note: Peer Groups and Role Models
18 Sociological Approaches Differential ReinforcementAnother factor is reinforcement(rewards and punishments)If something "works" (rewards, status, etc.)people are more likely to continue doing it.Note: Based on behaviorist psychology
19 Sociological Approaches Differential OpportunityMost “deviant adaptations” require alternativeset of learned skills/attitudes/valuesand the opportunity to use them. Illegitimate opportunity structures and“Illegal economies”
20 Sociological Approaches Note:Merton's theory focused on explainingmodern urban "street crime." But thetheoretical framework can also be used toexplain a variety of other social situationssimilar to those producing street crime.
21 Sociological Approaches Why is corporate crime so widespread inAmerica?Businesses are locked into a highlycompetitive quest for “market shares” (goal)and it is hard to “win” using legitimate means -
22 Sociological Approaches this leads to a corporate culture of “cheating”(deviant adaptation – corporate crime).Note: Greed = never enoughGoal is always out of reach -never "enough" wealth/power/etc.
23 Sociological Approaches Why do some police depts (like LAPD)have chronically high levels of corruption?Police culture emphasizes punishing “badguys” (goal) but the legal evidence isoften lacking (legitimate means) and thisleads some police depts (local policeculture) to plant evidence, engage inpolice brutality, etc.
24 Sociological Approaches How do idealistic young lawyers become“convict by any means" prosecutors?Prosecutors compete for high conviction rates(goal) which is hard to accomplish by followinglegal “due process” - this leads prosecutors toabandon goals of fairness and justice, and“cheat” to win convictions.
25 Sociological Approaches Crime and the American Dream (and lectures)will discuss all of the sociological theories andfoundations in more detail.
26 Sociological Approaches Summary: Circumstances produce crime -they shape the context within which individualdecisions are made.Psych/Indiv - frustration leads to aggressionSoc - social stress leads to “deviance”
27 Sociological Approaches Unrealistic goals + limited means for reachingthese goals leads to “deviant adaptations” -“Shortcuts” to goals
28 Sociological Approaches Over time shortcuts become institutionalized -part of our culture and practices - so part oflower class culture, corporate culture, policeculture, court culture, etc.Note: we respond to problems as if they wereindiv probs, while culture reproduces them!this is a huge dilemma!!
29 Next Week Crime and the American Dream + Supplemental Homicide Reports (demo)