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Social Reaction Theories of Crime. Chapter 9. Social Reaction Theories of Crime. Focus upon social and institutional responses to the individual. View the individual as a largely passive being who is forced into the role of a criminal by societal definitions or by the reactions of others.

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Social Reaction Theories of Crime

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social reaction theories of crime2
Social Reaction Theories of Crime
  • Focus upon social and institutional responses to the individual.
  • View the individual as a largely passive being who is forced into the role of a criminal by societal definitions or by the reactions of others.
  • The Labeling Perspective
  • Critical Criminology
labeling theory
Labeling Theory
  • Has its foundation in the works of George Herbert Meade and Charles Horton Cooley.
    • Cooley is best known for his development of the “looking-glass self.”
  • The dynamic interplay between the individual and others leads to the development of a self-concept that affects subsequent behavior.
  • A formal response from the criminal justice system forces the individual to reassess his or her personal identity.
labeling theory cont
Labeling Theory, cont.
  • Of primary importance to labeling theorists is what transpires after an act, not what caused or precipitated the act.
  • Second, deviance is not something inherent in the act.
  • Third, the labeling of an individual is a process of symbolic interaction between the “deviant” and significant others.
    • Lemert referred to this a secondary deviance.
  • Fourth, the labeling process is affected by who does the labeling and by how the labeled person reacts to the label.
  • Fifth, the act of labeling may lead to retrospective interpretation of the individual’s prior behavior.
  • Sixth, a deviant label such as that of “criminal” or “drug abuser” becomes the pivotal (master) status that overrides other personal attributes. - becker
  • Consequently, the probability of further criminal behavior is enhanced.
labeling theories
Labeling Theories
  • Frank Tannenbaum - Dramatization of Evil
    • Wrote Crime and the Community (1938).
    • Contended that criminals are not inherently different from the rest of the population, but that specific acts in a person’s overall repertoire of behaviors are singled out and brought to public attention.
    • Dramatization of evil – social reaction whereby the individuals act now causes all of his acts to be looked at w/ suspicion. Gradual shift from behavior labeled deviant to the person being labeled as deviant.
    • Legal relativism - acts are neither inherently good nor evil. – your social status or the situation dictates how society responds to the same actions by different people (male w/ female, female w/ male)
  • Edwin M. Lemert - Primary and Secondary Deviance
    • Primary deviance - occasional or situational behavior that may be excused or rationalized by the actor and/or the social audience.
    • Secondary deviance - the result of a dynamic interaction between the individual’s deviation and the societal response to the deviation.
edwin m schur radical nonintervention
Edwin M. Schur -Radical Nonintervention
  • Wrote Radical Nonintervention ( 1973)
  • Argued that society should take a more tolerant stance and allow adolescents to experiment with a wide array of behavioral alternatives.
  • Argued that being labeled “delinquent” is a master status and hard to overcome.
  • Retrospective interpretation - the process by which people reinterpret an individual’s behavior in light of new information concerning that individual.
critical criminology
Critical Criminology
  • Karl Marx (1818-1883) - Conflict Theory
    • Argued that the economic base shaped all social arrangements.
    • The division of labor led to the alienation of workers.
    • Two opposing groups -
      • Bourgeoisie
      • Proletariat
        • Lumpen proletariate – fringe, do nothing, live off labor of others
      • Surplus value – root of the problem
        • Lumpen proletariate – fringe, do nothing, live off labor of others
  • Group Conflict Perspective
    • George Vold - Group Conflict Theory
      • Viewed humans as group oriented and society as a collection of groups, each with its own interests.
the radical era 1960s 1970s
The Radical Era - 1960s-1970s
  • Austin Turk - Crime and the Legal Order
  • Richard Quinney - The Social Reality of Crime
  • William Chambliss and Robert Seidman - Law, Order, and Power
  • Contemporary Critical Thought
    • Left Realism - based on the following four premises:
      • Street crime is a serious problem for the working class.
      • Working-class crime is primarily perpetrated against other members of the working class.
      • It is relative poverty, not absolute poverty, that breeds discontent, and this discontent without a political solution creates crime.
      • Crime can be reduced through implementation of practical, socialist policies.
contemporary critical thought cont
Contemporary Critical Thought, cont.
  • Feminism - Three major variations
    • Radical feminism - identifies a patriarchal social order in which men dominate women as the fundamental issue.
    • Marxist feminism - sees women as dominated by men as a result of the disproportionate location of economic power among men.
    • Socialist feminism - sees capitalism as inevitably flawed, producing a range of oppression, including that experienced by women.
  • Post-modernism - rejects the notion that rationalism and science merit a superior position in explaining the way things are.
conflict theory
Conflict Theory

Research on Conflict Theory

Policy Relevance of Conflict Theory