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social structure theory of crime causation

Data in this area are somewhat mixed, but recent studies suggest that males, young people, and possibly lower-class people are more likely to hold beliefs favorable to violence. This integrated theory lists three major types of control: direct control, stake in conformity, and internal control. Data indicate that individuals who are reinforced for crime are more likely to engage in subsequent crime, especially when they are in situations similar to those where they were previously reinforced. Further, females are more closely supervised than males, partly because fathers and husbands desire to protect their "property" from other males. Differential reinforcement of crime. These theories, however, differ from one another in several ways: they focus on somewhat different features of the social environment, they offer different accounts of why the social environment causes crime, and some focus on explaining individual differences in crime while others attempt to explain group differences in crime (e.g., why some communities have higher crime rates than other communities). According to labeling theory, official efforts to control crime often have the effect of increasing crime. : Harvard University Press, 1993. Encyclopedia.com. Braithwaite's theory has not yet been well tested, but it helps make sense of the mixed results of past research on labeling theory. They are reinforced for crime, they learn beliefs that are favorable to crime, and they are exposed to criminal models. And they are most concerned with explaining why some individuals are more likely to engage in crime than others. And they may engage in the crime of illicit drug use to make themselves feel better. Finally, individuals are more disposed to delinquency if they hold beliefs that justify delinquency, if they have been exposed to delinquent models, and if they have been reinforced for delinquency in the past (see below). The words 'sociological' and 'society' are linked, so you can remember that sociological theories look at crime as a social problem, not an individual one. Further, sociologists are coming to recognize that they need to take account of the factors considered in biological, psychological, and other theories of crime. They eventually accept or "internalize" this belief, and they are less likely to engage in Surveys and interviews with criminals suggest that beliefs favoring crime fall into three categories. Some individuals are better able to cope with strain legally than others. This entry focuses on the three major sociological theories of crime and delinquency: strain, social learning, and control theories. Social and Environmental Theories of Crime Causation. Feminist theories argue that the causes of their crime differ somewhat from those of male crime, although female crime is largely explained in terms of strain theory. Low social control, in turn, increases the likelihood of association with delinquent peers, which promotes the social learning of crime. Elliott's theory states that strain and labeling reduce social control. For example, Sampson and Laub demonstrate that delinquent adolescents who enter satisfying marriages and obtain stable jobs (i.e., develop a strong stake in conformity) are less likely to engage in crime as adults. Some individuals, however, learn beliefs that are favorable to crime and they are more likely to engage in crime as a result. Therefore, given the limited utility of family studies to separate issues of nature versus nurture, this section will focus on two other epidemiological research designs that are better equipped to test for genetic effects. Individuals may teach others to engage in crime through the reinforcements and punishments they provide for behavior. Strain theorists attempt to describe those factors that increase the likelihood of a criminal response. In positive reinforcement, the behavior results in something good—some positive consequence. These rules may specify such things as who the person may associate with and the activities in which they can and cannot engage. as delinquents, noting that such labeling is not simply a function of official labeling (e.g., arrest). Finally, labeled individuals may eventually come to view themselves as criminals and act in accord with this self-concept. Those with a lot to lose will be more fearful of being caught and sanctioned and so will be less likely to engage in crime. A theory that argues for social and environmental causes of crime is Robert Merton’s… Social/environment theories of causation of crime attempts to look at the environment of a city and the groups that have formed a social structure in their city. Such theories usually argue that crime is most likely in those types of situations where the benefits of crime are seen as high and the costs as low, an argument very compatible with social learning theory. But labeling reduces subsequent crime when efforts are made to reintegrate punished offenders back into conventional society. Money is perhaps the central goal in the United States. Gottfredson and Hirschi claim that one's level of self-control is determined early in life and is then quite resistant to change. Messner, Steven F.; and Rosenfeld, Richard. Others believe that criminal behavior is generally the result of negative reactions to ordinary human characteristics. Reinforcements may be positive or negative. Crime is more likely to occur when it (a) is frequently reinforced and infrequently punished; (b) results in large amounts of reinforcement (e.g., a lot of money, social approval, or pleasure) and little punishment; and (c) is more likely to be reinforced than alternative behaviors. Control theory goes on to argue that people differ in their level of control or in the restraints they face to crime. Criminology 25 (1987): 863–891. : Rowman and Littlefield, 1993. Sampson, Robert J.; and Groves, W. Byron. Agnew, however, points to certain types of strain not considered in these previous versions and provides a fuller discussion of the conditions under which strain is most likely to lead to crime. For example, they may engage in violence to end harassment from others, they may steal to reduce financial problems, or they may run away from home to escape abusive parents. The individual eventually takes drugs with them, after which time they stop calling her a coward. Sociologists, however, are coming to recognize that it is not possible to explain crime solely in terms of the immediate social environment. For example, if someone provokes them, they are more likely to get into a fight. Crime is said to be more likely in communities that are economically deprived, large in size, high in multiunit housing like apartments, high in residential mobility (people frequently move into and out of the community), and high in family disruption (high rates of divorce, single-parent families). Crime and the American Dream. These traits also shape the individual's social environment. In particular, individuals often imitate or model the behavior of others—especially when they like or respect these others and have reason to believe that imitating their behavior will result in reinforcement. Crime causation theories can vary greatly. Contemporary Crises 1 (1977): 189–223. Finally, a major goal of most adolescents is autonomy from adults. Crime, Shame, and Reintegration. Start studying Theories of Crime Causation. There are other versions of critical theory, including "postmodernist" theories of crime. Level of direct control usually emerges as an important cause of crime in most studies. People's stake in conformity has two components: their emotional attachment to conventional others and their actual or anticipated investment in conventional society. Social learning theory has much support and is perhaps the dominant theory of crime today. Lantham, Md. Marxists explain crime in several ways. For example, school failure and negative labeling may threaten one's emotional bond to conventional others and investment in conventional society. As a consequence, many attempt to obtain money through illegitimate channels or crime. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. This reduces their bond with conventional others and fosters the social learning of crime. So while strain and social learning theory focus on those factors that push or lead the individual into crime, control theory focuses on the factors that restrain the individual from engaging in crime. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1960. Several theories argue that predisposed individuals are more likely to engage in crime in some types of situations than others. People obviously differ in the extent to which their behavior is monitored. Strain theories view crime as resulting from the anger people experience over their inability to achieve legitimate social and economic success. Another key factor is whether individuals blame their strain on the deliberate behavior of someone else. Encyclopedia.com. Mainstream or consensus-based social structure theories trace their roots to the work of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). "Crime Causation: Sociological Theories Most of social learning theory involves a description of the three mechanisms by which individuals learn to engage in crime from these others: differential reinforcement, beliefs, and modeling. At other times, the reinforcement for crime is less deliberate. Few people—including criminals—generally approve of serious crimes like burglary and robbery. Social learning theory has much support and is perhaps the dominant theory of crime today. Most theories of crime were developed with males in mind; feminists argue that the causes of female crime differ somewhat from the causes of male crime. Each of the three theories have come a long way since their inception and continue to be updated due to new findings through technological and medical advances. In negative reinforcement, the behavior results in the removal of something bad—a punisher is removed or avoided. Unlike most contemporary anomie theories, Durkheim’s theory, as elaborated in this article, integrates a theory of crime causation with an account of criminal law. As a result, institutions like the family, school, and political system are less able to effectively socialize individuals against crime and sanction deviant behavior. The leading sociological theories focus on the immediate social environment, like the family, peer group, and school. Some draw on control theory, arguing that crime results from the fact that many workers and the unemployed have little stake in society and are alienated from governmental and business institutions. The denial of autonomy may lead to delinquency for several reasons: delinquency may be a means of asserting autonomy (e.g., sexual intercourse or disorderly behavior), achieving autonomy (e.g., stealing money to gain financial independence from parents), or venting frustration against those who deny autonomy. Control theories describe the major types of social control or the major restraints to crime. These bad feelings, in turn, create pressure for corrective action. Recent theoretical work, however, has revised the theory to take account of past problems. Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld's institutional anomie theory draws on control and social learning theories to explain the high crime rate in the United States. The police may function as capable guardians, but it is more common for ordinary people to play this role—like family members, neighbors, and teachers. For example, individuals are more likely to imitate others' behavior if they observe them receive reinforcement for their acts. Crime: The study of social deviance is the study of the violation of cultural norms in either formal or informal contexts. Informal labeling is said to have a greater effect on subsequent crime than official labeling. Primary or intimate groups like the family and peer group have an especially large impact on what we learn. Institutional anomie theory. crime as a result. According to social learning theory, some individuals are in environments where crime is more likely to be reinforced (and less likely to be punished). According to social learning theory, some individuals are in environments where crime is more likely to be reinforced (and less likely to be punished). 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