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Chapter 4: Sociological Explanations of Delinquency

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Jordan Austin

on 17 September 2013

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Transcript of Chapter 4: Sociological Explanations of Delinquency

Chapter 4: Sociological Explanations of Delinquency
Introduction into the Chapter
Social Structure Theories
-Social disorganization , status frustration, cultural deviance lead lower-class youth to become involved in delinquent behavior to become involved in delinquent behavior.

Focus on how society, social institutions and governmental officials react to crime/delinquency than on why offenders commit crime.

-Three categories of social structure explanations are social
disorganization theory
strain theory
, and
cultural deviance theory.

Example of Social Reaction Theories..
Case Study: Shooting of Trayvon Martin
unarmed black teenager shot by neighborhood watch George Zimmerman
Zimmerman stated it was self defense
George Zimmerman found not guilty
Social Structure Theories
Social Process Theories
Societal Reaction Theories

Analyze and Discuss predominant criminological theories
No single theory can explain all causes of criminal behavior
These theories cover causes of delinquency and criminal behavior as a social problem.
Sociological explanations of delinquency

Labeling Theory
Lemert(1951) & Becker(1963)
understanding that most youth engage in some deviant acts and use findings to support that contention
Focuses on why youths repeat delinquent acts and escalate.
Label people enough
in turn they change into that label.

Case Study : Sexton, T. (2011, May). Case study, from conflict to alliance. Psychotherapy Networker, 35 Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.svsu.edu/docview/968236485?accountid=960

Conflict Theory
..Conflict Theory
•Focuses on Social and political Institutions causes of crime instead of Individual
Difference in values and belief between gender, race and religious groups

•Conflict results when competing group fight for power, attempt to implement laws and policies that they support
•Groups try to convince others that their beliefs off the best answer to solve what they believe is the problem

Emphasis on drug enforcement in America. Certain drugs labels as dangerous and addicting drugs when used may result in severe sentences, including jail and prison time. Drugs like tobacco and alcohol do not receive the same criminal sanctions

..Race, Social Class, & Delinquency
•Critical theorists view juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice in terms of a capitalists, class-structured society
•Equal quality education is not available to all youth. The difference in school funding has resulted in savage inequalities in schools throughout the US.

Most youth and families look to education as primary means by which they can compete for good jobs and improve social standing.
•Significant factor in any study of juvenile delinquency and justice
•There is evidence that Black Americans suffer disproportionate both as victims and as offenders.
Crime and Violence is seen normal for Black people.
•Teachers tend to view the attitudes and behaviors of African American males as threatening and intimidating and their behavior is monitored very closely then they would for white males
•Media even focuses more on blacks as offenders. Whites are seen more as the victims.
•“Newsworthy” meaning those that are the most shocking, surprising or unexpected.

ex.)Dave Chapelle Video. Coverage everywhere over fifteen year old White girl lost for six months, whereas seven year old African American girl saved in same day. More news covered the white girls story.
Outside Source
The Lives of Juvenile Lifers:
Findings from a National Survey
..Feminism & Delinquency
Case study on Feminism and Delinquency.
Mann, R. M., Senn, C. Y., Girard, A., & Ackbar, S. (2007). Community-based interventions for at-risk youth in ontario under canada's youth criminal justice act: A case study of a "runaway" girl Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.svsu.edu/docview/9789472?accountid=960
Life Course Development and General Integrated Theories
•Strain, Social Control, and Social Learning theories between combined into an integrated theoretical explanation of delinquency and drug use.
•General theory of crime: What is Crime? Rather than what causes crime?
•The general theory of crime aptly describes juvenile delinquents who lack of self-control draws them to criminal acts that offer excitement, risk, deception and power

Explanation of Female Delinquency
•621,670 girls under 18 were arrested in the US in 2005
•29% of 2.1 million total juvenile arrests was girls
•The common offenses for girls:
Drug Abuse
Drinking under age
Curfew violations

• The analysts have suggested a number of factors that may explain the apparent increase in violence among teenage girls:
Changes in law enforcement polices such as responses to domestic violence, may explain the increased arrests, rather than actual increases in assaults by girls
Family dynamics may contribute to gender differences in juvenile arrests for assault
Research indicates that girls fight with family members or siblings more frequently than boys
Policies of mandatory arrest for domestic violence provide parent with a method for controlling their “unruly” daughters
Schools officials zero-tolerance policies toward youth violence may increase when girls are referred to police for fighting at school

Clifford Shaw& Henry Mckay (1942)

Changes in quality of life as industrialization changed city

Urban Growth produced of social disorganization

Directs attention not to individual responsible for crime, but need for equal employment, quality public schools, adequate housing and other social institutions.
Category #1 Social Disorganization Theory.
Social Structure Theory #2-Strain Theory
Example: "The Role of Identity in Interactionist, Labeling, and Control Theories"
What are some examples of kinds of delinquency/outcomes that could take place due to Social Disorganization?

Questions Over Social Disorganization
Robert Merton in 1957
Delinquency= frustration of not having equal opportunity or means to achieve commonly shared goals like social success
Everyone shares the same goals
Use deviant means to achieve these equalities
occurs most in lower socioeconomic class.
Example: Theft & Drug Dealing

Today, more of these opportunities.
Ex.) Youth and at Risk Youth Programs
involved in Strain Theory
Cloward and Ohlin, 1960
Prompted government-funded policies like "Head Start" and job programs for lower class youth.

..Opportunity-Structure theories

General Strain Theory.
Extends off Strain Theory
Developed by Robert Agnew-1992
Helps explain better varieties of delinquent behavior.
1)Caused by failure to achieve positive goals (same as Merton)
2)Removal of positively valued stimuli ex loss of girlfriend/ boyfriend, death of someone close, divorce, or moving
3)Presentation of negative stimuli ex child abuse and neglect, physical punishment, stressful life, and school failure

Cultural Deviance Theory
Suggests youth violate the law because they follow the values of their lower class community
-They value being “tough” and “street smart” rather than “book smart”
-Ex. drug dealing and prostitution are viewed by lower class youth as a way to overcome unemployment and poverty
Why Would these cause one
three causes of strain:
Walter Miller(1958) described focal concerns that dominate lower class culture
1. Trouble:
2. Toughness:
3. Smartness:
4. Excitement:
5. Fate:
6. Autonomy:
Walter Millers Focal Concerns
1. Trouble:able to handle yourself is valued so trouble making behavior like fighting, drinking, etc are accepted.
2. Toughness: Surviving in low class requires toughness. physical strength and fighting ability, mental toughness are valued over soft and sentimental.
3. Smartness: Formal education is not valued as much as being street smart and able to outsmart ones opponent.
4. Excitement: seek to enliven their tough life through excitement like gambling, fighting, getting drunk, and sexual activity.
5. Fate: believe there is little they can do to change their course of life, only by luck and good fortune.
6. Autonomy: Learn to value being independent, and not depend on anyone else
such as authorities, parents, teachers.
Summary of Social Structure Theory..
social structure, strain, and cultural deviance explanations claim delinquent acts are often an expression of frustration because of limited educational and employment opportunities, particularly of lower-income and disadvantaged youth.

Social Process Theories
-Focus on social interactions between individuals and environmental influences that may lead to delinquent behavior.

Differential association and Control Theories are involved in these types of theories..
Differential association theory
developed by Edwin Sutherland who believed delinquency is learned behavior as youths interact with each other.
-Explains youth are changeable and can be thought pro social behavior
-Important explanation for juvenile delinquency
-Theory that surrounds the idea that behavior is learned.
Control Theories
-Developed by Walter Reckless in 1961
-Basic idea: human behavior is guided by various controls, some within the person and some outside the person
Discuss the way to understand delinquency is to know the characteristics of persons who conform and do not engage in delinquency
-Ex one’s self concept, external sources are the family, school, and other social institutions
-Major emphasis of control theory is the role of the parents, peers, and school experiences in explained delinquency
-Doing poorly in school is going to lead to less interest not only in school work, but school activities as well.

•Focuses on victimization of women, gender differences in crime and differences in judicial and correctional policies for women
•Feminist Theory claims that the patriarchal structure of society and the justice system results in laws and policies that are unfair to women
•Female delinquency usually begins with victimization experiences in home.
•Girls are victims to sexual abuse more often than boys. They might leave home to get away from the abuse, which many get them arrested for being a runaway.

Retrieved from:
serving these sentences demonstrate high rates of socioeconomic disadvantage, extreme racial disparities
Juvenile lifers experienced high levels of exposure to violence in their
homes and communities
79% of individuals reported witnessing violence in their homes;
More than half (54.1%) witnessed weekly violence in their
Juvenile lifers, particularly girls, suffered high rates of abuse
Nearly half (46.9%) experienced physical abuse, including 79.5%
of girls;
77.3% of girls reported histories of sexual abuse; overall, 20.5%
of juvenile lifers report being victims of sexual abuse.
Home Environment
"I never had a father and because there was no man in my house, I looked to the gang
in the streets for love and support. I started using [marijuana] when I was 15 years
old, and to support it I stole and sold drugs. I stopped going to school because I was
not learning or getting special help with my learning disability…My mother also had
a drug problem and was not around that much. "
experienced highly elevated levels of poverty, abuse, exposure to
community violence, and familial incarceration
Discussion Questions/Activity Part one.
. Think of your personal observations of small towns, suburbs, and large cities and describe the reasons for different levels of crime and delinquency according to the social structure theories.
2.Give an example of delinquent behavior that can be explained by "differential association" or social learning.

3. Think of 2 examples of young people: some who are characterized by at least 2 or 3 elements of the social bonds and others whom the social bonds are weak or absent.
4. think of an example of how a rule,law, or policy favors some individuals or groups and seems unfairly targeted against other individuals or groups.
5. Pick 1 theory that makes most
sense to you. Next, suggest a
legislative change, policy, or
program that may be an
effective delinquency
prevention strategy based
on your favorite theory
Part Two. Dialogue skit
choose a theory at random and perform a one minute skit with your group that describes why or how youth delinquency would take place.
Perform to class and state how your skit refers to your chosen theory.
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