13 May Discuss the Anomie (Emile Durkheim and Robert Merton) , Labeling (i.e. Howard Becker) and Social Control (i.e. Travis Hirschi), Broken Windows (i.e. Wilson and Kelling; Pp.
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Part A (16 Points)
Based on the information in the textbook, in your own words, discuss the Anomie (Emile Durkheim and Robert Merton) , Labeling (i.e. Howard Becker) and Social Control (i.e. Travis Hirschi), Broken Windows (i.e. Wilson and Kelling; Pp. 183-184) approaches on crime and delinquency [Length: At least 120 words per perspective; Max points = 4 per perspective]
Part B (8 Points)
Select a recent (within the past three months) national or local news story on crime and/or delinquency. Apply one of the sociological perspectives on deviance you consider as the best to understand or explain that story. (Instructions: Provide web links or reference for that story. Apply the core ideas, principles or teachings of the selected perspective when you delineate your points. Length: At least 250 words)
ESSENTIALS OF SOCIOLOGY
CHAPTER 6: DEVIANCE, CRIME, AND PUNISHMENT
Please review the entire chapter to gain a more comprehensive view and understanding of the subject matter. This chapter summary is not intended to be a major or sole information source for students to provide a full response to any assignment or test.
What is Deviance?
• Deviance is a behavior, trait, belief, or other characteristic that violates a norm and causes a negative reaction in a group. The definition of deviance varies widely across cultures, time, and situations. A deviant subculture is one whose members hold values that differ substantially from those of the majority.
• It is important to remember that when sociologists use the term "deviant," they are making a social judgment, never a moral one. If a behavior is considered deviant, it means that it violates the values and norms of a group, not that it is inherently wrong.
• Much of the literature on deviance focuses on crime and how different cultures define very different behaviors as criminal or not and the vast differences seen in how crimes are punished.
Why Do People Commit Deviant Acts?
• Apart from sociological explanations of deviance, there are biological and psychological views of deviance. These views presume that deviance is a sign of something “wrong” with the individual rather than with society. These views have come to attract great criticism from researchers.
• Functionalists argue that deviance serves a social function by clarifying moral boundaries and promoting social cohesion.
• Symbolic interactionist theories of deviance focus on how interactions shape definitions and meaning of deviance and influence those who engage in deviant behavior.
• Differential association theory states that we learn to be deviant through our associations with deviant peers. Labeling theory claims that deviance is a consequence of external judgments, or labels, which both modify the individual's self-concept and change the way others respond to the labeled person. Labeling theory is also related to the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which is an assumption, usually defined by a label, that causes itself to come true. Control theory posits that crime occurs as a result of an imbalance between impulses toward criminal activity and the social or physical controls that deter it.
• Conflict theorists believe that a society's inequalities are reproduced in its definitions of deviance, so that less powerful groups are more likely to be deemed deviant and criminalized. Merton's structural strain theory argues that the tension or strain between socially approved goals and an individual's inability to meet those goals through socially approved means leads to deviance as individuals reject either the goals (achieving success), the means (hard work, education), or both.
ESSENTIALS OF SOCIOLOGY
CHAPTER 6: DEVIANCE, CRIME, AND PUNISHMENT
How Do We Document Crime?
• Crime reports and statistics are based on two sources: Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and victimization studies. However, each has its own limitations and covers only a partial portrait of crime in American life.
• Beginning in the 1990s, crime rates began to decline nationwide, in a phenomenon termed the Great Crime Decline. Many explanations have been offered, from improving economic conditions, improved security systems and better policing, to lower levels of lead and less consumption of illegal drugs among Americans.
Who Are the Perpetrators?
• Since the 1970s a feminist re-examination of crime has revealed that violence is not exclusively a characteristic of male criminality, although female perpetrators are significantly fewer than male ones.
• While a large proportion of offenders do appear to be young people, the reactions to this information might be rasher than the extent of the problem. Emotional reactions to school shootings and drug habits reveal biases and a surfeit of moral outrage.
• The term white-collar crime refers to crime – e.g. tax fraud, antitrust violations, illegal sales practices – carried out by people in professional jobs. White-collar crime is harder to measure than other types of crime; most do not appear in the official statistics at all.
• Organized crime refers to forms of activities that have some of the characteristics of orthodox business but that are illegal. These include drug and people trafficking, large- scale theft, etc.
What Were the Causes and Costs of the Great Crime Decline?
• The decline in crime may partly be attributed to the rise of mass incarceration, in which the U.S. leads the world by quite some margin. This is a problematic solution because both the price and social cost of imprisoning an individual are enormous.
• The biggest contributor to the lowering of crime rates is policing. However, that comes with its own host of problems – from over-policing to institutionalized racial bias. Over- policing might in part be a result of the broken windows theory.
• The fall in crime rates has also signaled a fall in violence, which creates a paradoxical situation where the communities who have suffered great costs are the ones which have benefitted from these changes.
How Do Crime and Deviance Affect Your Life?
• Corrections facilities and prisons cost the tax-payer a lot of money, as maintaining systems of justice is costly and increasingly so.
• Acts of deviance and the punishments involved also act as a cautionary mechanism for society at large.
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