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Chapter Six:. Social Structure Theory: Because They’re Poor. Objectives. Be familiar with the concept of social structure Have knowledge of the socioeconomic structure of American society Be able to discuss the concept of social disorganization Be familiar with the works of Shaw and McKay

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chapter six

Chapter Six:

Social Structure Theory:

Because They’re Poor

  • Be familiar with the concept of social structure
  • Have knowledge of the socioeconomic structure of American society
  • Be able to discuss the concept of social disorganization
  • Be familiar with the works of Shaw and McKay
  • Know the various elements of ecological theory
  • Be able to discuss the association between collective efficacy and crime
  • Know what is meant by the term “anomie”
  • Be familiar with the concept of strain
  • Understand the concept of cultural deviance
socioeconomic structure and crime
Socioeconomic Structure and Crime
  • People in the United States live in a stratified society
  • Social strata are created by the unequal distribution
  • Social structure theorists suggest that social and economic forces operating in deteriorated lower class areas push many of their residents into criminal behavior patterns
  • A disadvantaged economic class position is a primary cause of crime
the underclass
The Underclass
  • Culture of Poverty: suggests that the crushing lifestyle of lower-class areas produces a culture which is passed from one generation to the next
  • Apathy, cynicism, helplessness, and mistrust of social institutions such as schools, government agencies, and the police mark the culture of poverty
  • This mistrust prevents members from taking advantage of the meager opportunities
child poverty
Child Poverty
  • Findings suggest that poverty during early childhood may have a more severe impact on behavior than poverty during adolescence and adulthood
  • Children who grow up in low income homes are less likely to achieve in school and are less likely to complete their schooling than children with more affluent parents
  • More likely to suffer from health problems and to receive inadequate health care
  • Limited chance of earning a college degree
minority group poverty
Minority Group Poverty
  • The burdens of underclass are often felt most acutely by minority group members
  • Minorities are denied protections and privileges offered to many whites
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 25% of African Americans and 22% of Hispanics live in poverty as compared to 8% of non-Hispanics whites and 11% of Asians
  • Minority children are four times less likely to have health insurance as other kids
  • If interracial economic disparity would end, so too might differences in the crime rate
social structure theories
Social Structure Theories
  • Social disorganization theory
  • Strain theory
  • Cultural deviance theory
social disorganization theory
Social Disorganization Theory
  • Branch of social structure theory that focuses on the breakdown of institutions such as the family, school, and employment in inner-city neighborhoods
  • Types of social disorganization theory:
    • Shaw and McKay’s concentric zones theory
    • Social ecology theory
concentric zones theory
Concentric Zones Theory
  • Crime is a product of transitional neighborhoods that manifest social disorganization and value conflict
  • Identifies why crime rates are highest in inner-city areas
  • Points out the factors that produce crime
  • Suggests programs to help reduce crime
the social ecology school
The Social Ecology School
  • The conflicts and problems of urban social life and communities, including community deterioration, chronic unemployment, community fear, community change and cycles of community change
  • Community Deterioration: disorder, poverty, alienation, disassociation, and fear of crimes accounts for urban crime rates and trends
  • Crime-ridden neighborhoods exert a powerful influence over behaviors that is strong enough to neutralize the positive effects of a supportive family and close social ties.
collective efficacy
Collective efficacy

1. Informal social controls: exerted by either awarding or withholding approval, respect, and admiration

2. Institutional social control: exerted by cohesive communities utilizing the institutions like schools, businesses, stores, and churches

3. Public social control: the use of external sources such as more police and political powerbrokers, and financial government assistance

strain theory
Strain Theory
  • Branch of social structure theory that sees crime as a function of the conflict between people’s goals and the means available to obtain these goals
  • Types of strain theory include:
    • The Concept of Anomie
    • Macro-Level Theory: Institutional Anomie Theory
    • Micro-Level Theory: General Strain Theory
anomie theory
Anomie Theory
  • People who adopt the goals of society but lack the means to attain them seek alternatives such as crime
  • Points out how competition for success creates conflict and crime
  • Suggests that social conditions, not personality, can account for crime
  • Explains high lower-class crime rates
variety of social adaptations
Variety of Social Adaptations

Each person has his or her own concept of the goals of society and the means at his or her disposal to attain them; they may develop criminal or delinquent solutions to the problem of attaining goals.

  • conformity
  • innovation
  • ritualism
  • retreatism
  • rebellion
macro level theory institutional anomie theory
Macro-Level Theory: Institutional Anomie Theory
  • Material goods pervade all aspects of American life
  • Explains why crime rates are so high in American culture
  • American Dream, a term employed as both a goal and a process
  • The American Dream involves accumulating material goods and wealth via open individual competition
  • Capitalist system encourages innovation in pursuit of monetary rewards
general micro level theory general strain theory
General Micro-Level Theory: General Strain Theory
  • Strain has a variety of sources and causes crime in the absence of adequate coping mechanisms
  • Identifies the complexities of strain in modern society
  • Expands on anomie theory
  • Shows the influence of social events on behavior over the life course
  • Explains middle-class crimes
sources of strain
Sources of Strain
  • Failure to achieve positively valued goals
  • Disjunction of expectations and achievements
  • Removal of positively valued stimuli
  • Presentation of negative stimuli
cultural deviance theories
Cultural Deviance Theories
  • Branch of social structure theory that sees strain and social disorganization together resulting in a unique lower class culture that conflicts with conventional social norms
  • Types of cultural deviance theory:

. Conduct Norms

    • Focal Concerns
    • Theory of Delinquent Subcultures
    • Theory of Differential Opportunity
conduct norms
Conduct Norms
  • The concept that the lower class develops a unique culture in response to the strain
  • These groups maintain their own set of conduct norms—rules governing the day-to-day living conditions within these subcultures.
focal concern theory
Focal Concern Theory
  • Citizens who obey the street rules of lower class life (focal concerns)
  • Clinging to lower class focal concerns promotes illegal or violent behavior
  • Toughness, street smarts, excitement
  • Identifies the core values of lower class culture and shows their association to crime
millers lower class focal concerns
Millers’ Lower Class Focal Concerns
  • Trouble
  • Toughness
  • Smartness
  • Excitement
  • Fate
  • Autonomy
theory of delinquent subcultures
Theory of Delinquent Subcultures
  • Status frustration of lower class boys, created by their failure to achieve middle-class success, causes them to engage in delinquency
  • Shows how the conditions of lower class life produce crime
  • Identifies conflict of lower class with the middle class
  • Is a consequence of socialization practices found in the ghetto or inner-city environment
  • May include: developmental handicaps, poor speech, and communication skills, and inability to delay gratification
theory of differential opportunity
Theory of Differential Opportunity
  • Blockage of conventional opportunities causes lower class youths to join criminal, conflict, or retreatist gangs
  • Shows that even illegal opportunities are structured in society
  • Indicates why people become involved in a particular type of criminal activity
  • Opportunities for success, both illegal and conventional, are closed for the most ‘truly disadvantaged” youth