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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 19
EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED
Sociological Explanations (continued)
Control theory by W. Reckless
Inside most of us, it seems, are strong desires to do a lot of things that would get us in trouble. Yet most of
the time we don't do these things. We mostly keep them to ourselves, and the temptation, urge, hostility, or
desire to do something passes. To explain this restraint, Walter Reckless (1973) developed control theory.
According to this theory two systems work against our motivations to deviate.
1. Inner control system: It includes our internalized morality --- call it conscience, ideas of right and wrong,
reluctance to violate religious principles. It also includes fears of punishment, feelings of integrity,
and the desire to be a `good' person.
2. Outer control system: It involves groups --- such as friends, family, sub-cultures, police that influence
us not to deviate.
How strong are the controls, inner as well as outer, determine deviancy of a person.
Control theory by T. Hirschi
Travis Hirschi (1969) developed a control theory, which states that social control depends on imagining the
consequences of one's behavior. He assumes that everyone finds at least some deviance tempting. But the
prospects of a ruined career could be sufficient to deter most people; for some simply imagining the
reactions of family and friends is enough. On the other hand individuals who feel they have little to lose by
deviance are likely to become rule-breakers.
Hirschi linked conformity to four different types of social control:
1. Attachment. Strong social attachments encourage conformity; weak relationships, especially in the
family and in school, leave people freer to engage in deviance. An individual can well understand
that the deviance is likely to bring bad name to his/her family; therefore due to the strong
attachment with the family he/she would not violate the norms of society.
2. Opportunity. The greater the person's access to legitimate opportunity, the greater the advantages of
conformity. By contrast, some one with little confidence in future success is more likely to drift
toward deviance.
3. Involvement. Extensive involvement in legitimate activities ­ such as holding a job, going to school,
and playing sports ­ inhibits deviance. People without these activities have time and energy for
deviant activity.
4. Belief. Strong belief in conventional morality and respect for authority figures restrain tendencies
toward deviance. People who have a weak conscience have more temptation to violate the norms.
Strain theory: How social values produce crime
Functionalists argue that crime is a natural part of society. Some crime represents values that lie at the very
core of society. To be employed is a social value and thereby it can be a culturally approved goal of every
youth. To achieve the goal a society also specifies the culturally approved means. The acceptance of goals
and the non-availability of culturally approved means to achieve the goals can create strain, and can lead to
the deviation from the norms. The ineffectiveness of the norms to control behavior is a situation of anomie
or norm-less-ness. As anomie increases, the amount of deviance rises to dysfunctional levels.
R. K. Merton (1968) pointed out that the people who experience strain are likely to feel anomie, a sense of
norm-less-ness. Because the dominant norms (for example work, education) don't seem to be getting them
anywhere, they have difficult time identifying with them. They may even feel wronged by the system, and
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
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its rules may seem illegitimate. Matching culturally approved goals to culturally approved means creates
strain and people deviate from the norms. So
When ever people perceive that they cannot attain their life goals through the use of legitimate (normative, culturally permissible)
means available they use illegitimate
(culturally not approved) means.
Look at the following scenario in Pakistani society:
Material success: It is culturally defined (approved) goal.
Education Jobs: Culturally approved means to pursue the goal.
Central belief:
Egalitarian ideology.
Access to the approved means to achieve the material success varies by the social class structure. It creates
stress especially for the lower class youth.
As part of the survival youth will look for success in getting work through legitimate or illegitimate means
because "success (goal) is more important than how (means) success is achieved." For this purpose they
could adopt different ways, and Merton called these as modes of adaptation.
Modes of Adaptation: How people match their goals to their means
Feel stress
That leads to anomie
mode of adaptation
Cultural Goals Cultural means
No
Conformist
Accept
Accept
Innovators
Accept
Reject
Ritualists
reject
Accept
Yes
Retreatists
Reject
Reject
Rebels
Reject/accept
Reject/accept
Innovation: Robbery, burglary, drugs.
Ritualism: Lack of interest in success but supports the means.
Retreatism: Escapism, narcotic addiction
Rebellion: Vandalism, senseless violent crimes (counter culture).
Access to higher education and eventually to good job or career is available to class members is known.
There are obstacles for certain class or an ethnic group. How to over come these obstacles? So they
disregard some norms because the lower class chap knows that it is simply impossible to follow the
normative means to reach the goal.
Labeling theory by Howard S. Becker
According to labeling theory it is assumed that deviance and conformity result not so much from what people do as
from how others respond to these actions. People may define the same behavior in number of ways, hence
deviance is a relative concept and is determined by the society.
Hence deviance is not a set of
characteristics of individuals or groups but it is a process of interaction between deviants and non-deviants.
These are the reactions of social audiences to alleged acts of deviance.
Why some people come to be tagged with a `deviant' label? Why some acts, ideas, feelings, attribute is considered as
deviant? Once a child is labeled as delinquent, he is stigmatized as a criminal. According to Becker, `deviant
behavior' is behavior that people so label. Deviant behavior itself is not the determining factor in becoming
deviant. It all depends on whether or not a person is labeled as deviant.
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
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The link between the behavior and the label is conditional, not automatic. A crucial condition is having the power
to resist being labeled for alleged/or actual deviant behavior. Deviant behavior is behavior that people so label. Labeling itself is
means to amplification.
Labeling not only affects how others see an individual, but also influences his sense of self-identity. Individual
accepts the label and acts as deviant and also learns to be a deviant.
Deviancy Amplification: Deviant identity may start the process of deviancy amplification i.e. Unintended
consequences that can result when, by labeling a behavior as deviant, an agency of control actually provokes
more of that same deviant behavior. The labeled person incorporates the label into his/her identity through
secondary deviance and resists change to conformity
Illegitimate Opportunity: Explaining Social Class and Crime
One of the interesting sociological findings in the field of deviance is that social classes have distinct styles
of crime. Most delinquent youth emerge from the lower working class. The boys most at risk are those
who have internalized middle class values and have been encouraged, on the basis of their ability, to aspire
toward middle class future. When such boys are unable to realize their goals, they are particularly prone to
delinquent activity. The delinquent gangs arise in sub-cultural communities where the chances of achieving
success legitimately are small. Lack of opportunity for success in the terms of wider society is the main
differentiating factor between those who engage in criminal behavior and those who do not.
Failure of the lower class boys makes them open alternative doors to meeting their needs, and these new
avenues have been referred to as illegitimate opportunity structures (Cloward and Ohlin, 1960). They go for
robbery, burglary, drug dealing, prostitution, and other remunerative crimes. They develop their own
subcultures.
White-Collar Crime
The other social classes are not crime-free, but they find a different type of opportunity structure. For them
other forms of crime are functional. The more privileged classes avail opportunities for income tax
cheating, bribery of public officials, embezzlement, and false advertising. Sutherland coined the term
white-collar crime  to refer to crimes that people of respectable and high social status commit in the
course of their occupations.
Although the general public seems to think that the lower classes are more prone to crime, studies show
that white-collar workers also commit many crimes. This difference in perception is largely based on
visibility. While the crimes committed by the poor are given much publicity, the crimes of the more
privileged classes seldom make the news and go largely unnoticed.
Conflict Theory
According to Marxist thinkers, deviance is deliberately chosen and is political in nature. They rejected the
idea that deviance is `determined' by factors such as biology, personality, anomie, or labels. They argued,
individuals actively choose to engage in deviant behavior in response to the inequalities of the capitalist
system. Thus, members of the `counter-cultural' groups regarded as `deviants' engage in distinctly political
acts, which challenge the social order. Such acts may take the form of kidnapping, mugging, and terrorism.
Conflict theorists considered crimes as a disguised form of protest against inequality, injustice, power, and
political system.
Conclusions
Despite the fact that crime is only one subcategory of deviant behavior as a whole, it covers such a variety
of forms of activity ­ from shoplifting a bar of chocolate to mass murder ­ which it is unlikely that we
could produce a single theory that would account for all forms of criminal conduct.
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
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The contributions of the sociological theorists of crime are two fold. First, these theories correctly
emphasize the continuities between criminal and `respectable' behavior. The contexts in which particular
types of activity are seen as criminal and punishable by law vary widely. This is almost certainly linked to
question of power and inequality within society. Second all agree that context is important in criminal
activities. Whether someone engages in criminal act or comes to be regarded as criminal is basically
influenced by social learning and by social surroundings.
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Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  5. STEPS IN SOCIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION:Exploration/Consultation
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  12. SOCIALIZATION: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATURE, Social Isolation
  13. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  15. SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE:CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  20. SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CRIME: EXPLANATIONS, Gender and Crime
  21. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: INTRODUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE
  22. THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION I:Critical evaluation
  23. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION II
  24. THEORIES OF CLASS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION III
  25. SOCIAL CLASS AS SUBCULTURE
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  35. POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:Crude Birth Rate
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity