Criminology 1:00 T/R
Crime Zones and Reasoning (Poverty, Race, Social Class)
Sociology is a branch of the social sciences that attempts to help us understand society and how people interact. As with many other social sciences, sociology employs theories to help understand why people make certain decisions. Theories that help us explain societal trends are usually segmented in order to accurately examine the specific dynamics of different sections of society. Communities, institutions, gender, race and population are a few popular examples of common segmentations utilized in social theories. Social structure theories, also called social change theories attempt to analyze the driving forces that change society.
Sociologists who study social change use the study of both criminology and sociology to draw conclusions about criminal behavior. The overarching belief of criminology theory is that certain social structures support deviant behavior. The three main branches of social structure theories are the social disorganization theory, the social strain theory and the cultural deviance theory. How well have social structure theories explained delinquent behavior in society? In this paper, the major social structural theories will be defined and analyzed.
Social Disorganization Theory: Concentric Zone Theory
The Centric Zone Theory was proposed by Shaw, and examined arrest rates in Chicago. It was during these years immigrants living in the inner city begin to relocate to the outskirts of the city.
The purpose of their study was to conclude if delinquency was caused by particular immigrant groups or by the environment in which immigrants lived. Park and Burgess adopted the original concentric zone theory, and which separated Chicago into 5 distinct zones.
1. Central Business District
2. Transitional Zone
3. Working Class Zone
5. Commuter Zone
The experiment reveled that arrest rates consistently remained high for Zone 2, the transitional zone. They ultimately concluded that delinquency rates are related with ecological environment in which a person or group dwells.
Social Ecology Theory
This theory is based on the contention that change is natural. Further, this theory suggests that when an area is invaded, competition erupts and competition leads to disorganization, which can spark deviance. This theory disagrees with the social disorganization theory, since the theory presented by Shaw and McKay generalizes data to make conclusions on an individual basis.
However, the social ecological theory seeks to explain the high crime rates in urban areas based on individual circumstances.
The strain theory postulates that when regulation is inadequate social problems arise. Anomie Theory states individuals who lack the vehicles to help them realize their objectives eventually become disillusioned and may ultimately turn towards a life of crime. There are two main types of strain. Structural strain is the method that improper law enforcement causes a person to view his or her needs. Individual strain is the pressure that people feel while seeking to meet their personal desires.
General Strain Theory
The main focus is on defining the types of strain. Agnew identifies the measurements of strain, the major types of strain, the links between strain and crime, coping strategies for strain as well as the determinants of delinquent behavior.
The General Strain theory deals with the emotional aspect of criminal behavior.
Cultural Deviance Theory
Where social organizational theory focuses on conditions in the environment
and strain theory concentrates on the conflict between goals and means,
cultural deviance theory combines the two schools of thought.
Millers Focal Concern Theory
Identifies the core values of lower-class culture and their association to
crime. Core values are defined as: trouble, toughness, excitement, fate,
smartness and autonomy.
These values may lead to a life of crime since they are
at odds with the values of the superior culture. Both the social disorganization and social ecology theories attempt to explain why certain groups have a higher delinquency rate than others. Though these conclusions do strongly resemble trends in delinquency rates among inner city residents today. The primary problem is the existence of multicollinearity (where a linear relationship exists among the explanatory variables) since some of the data such as overcrowding and substandard housing are highly correlated with one another. Such data flaws may adversely affect the accuracy of the theory. The strain theories express the discontent of Americans who fail to achieve
the American dream.
Crimes committed by white collar, middle class .