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Chapter 5. Violence in Society: Rape and Murder. The Problem in Sociological Perspective. Violence: the use of force to injure people or to destroy their property Types of Violence Situational group violence : unplanned and spontaneous Organized group violence : planned but unauthorized
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Chapter 5 Violence in Society: Rape and Murder
The Problem in Sociological Perspective • Violence: the use of force to injure people or to destroy their property • Types of Violence • Situational group violence: unplanned and spontaneous • Organized group violence: planned but unauthorized • Institutionalized group violence: violence carried out by agents of the government • Anti-institutional violence: violence directed against the government in violation of the law
What Makes Violence a Social Problem? • The amount of violence (an objective condition) does not make violence a social problem. • Subjective concerns about violence make it a social problem. • When deciding whether a particular violent behavior is a problem, people ask the following questions: • What do the actors intend by their action? • Does violence conform to, or violate, social norms and values? • Does the violence support or threaten the social order? • Is the violent committed by or against the government?
Rate Of Violence • Number of violent crimes for each 100,000 Americans • Always be wary of crime statistics
Looking at the Problem Theoretically Biological Explanations • Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909) • Atavistic: biological throwbacks to earlier period when humanity was violent and primitive • Konrad Lorenz (1966) • Claimed that evolution was the key to explaining violence • Psychologist John Dollard • Frustration–Aggression Theory of Violence • Problems with biological approach
Psychological Theories • Behavior Modification – Operant Conditioning • Stress that if some behavior is rewarded (“reinforced”), that behavior will occur again • Modeling • Copying another person’s behavior • Problems with psychological approach • Sociological approach to understanding violence • Sociologists stress environmental causes • Examine how social life shapes and encourages—or discourages—violence
Functionalism Emile Durkheim: asking the sociological question…functions of crime? • Crimes affirm a society’s norms and values • Recognizing crime = line between right and wrong • Brings people together • Social change • Violence/crime is normal • Anomie: feelings of disconnectedness and anxiety
Robert Merton: Strain Theory • Used Durkheim’s anomie to explain crime in the U.S. • Success becomes a cultural goal • Cultural Means: ways to reach cultural goal • Strain (or frustration and anxiety) that comes from limited means may motivate some to commit crime • Strain Theory explains why high crime rates exist among poor minorities—they experience fewer means to achieve success
Gottfredson and Hirschi: Control Theory • Control Theory: places root cause of committing illegal acts on a lack of self-control • Causes of low self-control are negative and tend to show themselves in the absence of nurture, discipline, or training • Ineffective child-rearing practices are the major cause of low self control • Internal/External controls • Minimum requirements of effective child rearing: • Adequate monitoring of the child’s behavior • Recognition of deviant behavior when it occurs • Fair and consistent punishment of such behavior when it occurs
Symbolic Interactionism Edwin Sutherland: Differential Association • People learn violence by interacting with other violent individuals. • People learn techniques, attitudes, motives, drives, and rationalizations for violence. • Excess of definitions • Most significant interactions in which people learn violence take place earliest in life, are the most frequent, endure the longest, and are the most emotional or meaningful. • Mechanisms for learning violence are the same as those used to learn nonviolence.
Marvin Wolfgang: Subcultures of Violence • Subcultural Theory • People who grow up in subculture that approves violent behavior have higher chance of becoming violent • Fitting the theories together • Theories complement one another well • Subcultural theory stresses that violence is woven into the life of some groups. • Differential association explains how people learn that violence is a suitable response from other violent people.
Conflict Theory • Violence is inherent in society • Social classes find themselves competing over limited resources. • Essential division is between owners of production and workers. • Situation is particularly tense for working-class males. • Look beneath the surface and realize that capitalist class is actually more violent than the working class. • Form of violence that distinguishes workers from capitalists
Research Findings Two most serious forms of physical violence: rape and murder Forcible Rape: form of assault where one forces another to have any type of sexual relations against that person’s will Statutory Rape: sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor
Rape • Rape perceived as social rather than personal problem • Feminists: traditional definition of rape places blame on the victim, not perpetrator • Feminist revision removed burden of guilt from victim and placed on perpetrator • Rape is an outcome of patriarchy: control by men of a disproportionately large share of power • Legal definitions of rape changed and replaced with Criminal Sexual Assault
The Social Patterns of Rape • FBI: 89,000 American women are forcibly raped each year • The National Crime Victimization Survey • Predictable social patterns • Acquaintanceship; place; time; season; age; income; race–ethnicity; geography; region; weapon • Sociologists conclude that rape is not the act of a few sick men, but, rather, is intimately linked to our patriarchal culture. • Injury, rape, and resistance • Woman who resists her attacker less likely to be raped, but more likely to be injured
Profiling the Rapist 10 profiles of rapists based on confessions: • Woman Hater • Sadist • Generally Violence-prone • Revenge • Political • Soldier Rape: rape committed by a soldier on a country’s inhabitants during wartime • Walter Mitty rapist • Opportunist • Date Rapists, also called Acquaintance Rapists • Recreational Rapist • Husband rapist attacks his own wife
Reactions to Rape • The trauma of rape • Does not end with the physical attack • Dealing with their trauma • Expressive or Controlled • Dealing with the legal system • Police departments have grown more sensitive to rape victims • In only 40% of reported rapes is someone arrested • “Legal Rape” • Homosexual rape
Murder • The social patterns of murder • Least likely to be committed by a stranger • Perpetrators share characteristics of social class, sex, age, and race–ethnicity with rapists • Men as killers identify guns as masculine • Most dangerous time of the week is Saturday night • Saturday Night Specials refer to any inexpensive handgun • U.S. murder rates have plunged 43%
Explaining Social Patterns • Acquaintanceship: most killed by someone they know • Poverty: Conflict Theory—people in poverty may be striking out at one another instead of at their oppressors. • Functionalists adopt both strain theory and control theory. • The meaning behind murder: Symbolic Interaction—in some poor subcultures criminal behavior enhances a person’s reputation. • Social classes also resolve disputes differently.
Killing as a manly act: the measure of one’s capacity as a man • Women are less likely to be socialized into violence • Racial–ethnic differences • African Americans kill at a higher rate than other races. • More likely to be poor • Subculture identifies masculinity with the willingness to defend oneself aggressively • Interracial patterns: Functionalists stress a connection between race–ethnicity and money
Mass Murder: killing of four or more people in a single episode • Serial Murder: killing of several people in three or more separate events • Four social policies for prevention of violence: • Programs that teach equality • Social policies that increase the likelihood that rapists will be punished • Support research to determine how our culture creates a climate of violence • Gun control
The Future of the Problem Conflict theory indicates that tensions will remain in our society Functionalist perspective explains that violence is functional enough to be perpetuated and maintained Symbolic interactionist perspective focuses on violence as a cultural symbol used to resolve conflict Sociological perspective on violence essential to understanding our present and future state Understanding of the social basis of violence can be usedto implement beneficial solutions
The Mass Media and Violence • There is no single cause of violence in US society • Most researchers agree that mass media play a part in the problem • Today’s young people live in a world dominated by the mass media, and violence is an ever-growing part of that culture • Most analysts agree that violence in the media affects everyone by desensitizing people to violence
Poverty and Violence • Poverty itself as a form of violence that US society inflicts on people • Low income people are highly represented as both victims and offenders of violent crimes • Most violent crime in poor neighborhoods is a work of a small number of repeat offenders
Youth Gangs and Violence • Youth gangs can be: • Nonviolent groups • Those who sometimes clash over turf • All-out criminal organizations • Typical violent gang members: • Come from poor, single-parent families • Are from neighborhoods characterized by high crime rates, drug abuse, and limited job opportunities
Drugs and Violence • Drugs contribute to violence by distorting judgment and reducing inhibitions • Addictions can cause cravings so strong that the search for the next high may lead some people to violence and sometimes even to neglecting or abusing their children