Sociological Positivism: Anomie, the Chicago School and Subcultures

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Mind Map on Sociological Positivism: Anomie, the Chicago School and Subcultures, created by ellie.1001 on 05/07/2014.

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Sociological Positivism: Anomie, the Chicago School and Subcultures
1 Sociological positivism= Crime caused by factors external to the individual,; differentiation of criminal and non- criminal types; social integration (Durkheim); social anomie and strain (Merton); ecology and crime (chicago school); social disorganisation and cultural transmission; subculture as a determinant of delinquency
2 Nature of the offender in positivist criminology= determined by forces beyond his or her control, differentiated from non criminal normal types of people; pathological= the basis of this differentiation being a form of disease.
2.1 Ecology= Delinquency is caused by the neighbourhood environment inhabited by offenders; Criminal environments are distinguished in terms of their social disorganisation; socially disorganised neighbourhoods transmit cultures of deviance
2.1.1 Subcultural groups= delinquency is caused by group or gang responses to social norms of behaviour; the values of delinquent subcultures are antithetical to those of mainstream society; delinquent subcultures are delinquent because of their deviation from social norms- because of their 'anomie'
3 Social integration and Crime, Durkheim 1895
3.1 Anomie as breakdown or lack of norms/ values, a state of normlessness due to rapid social changes.
3.2 To classify crime among the phenomena of normal sociology is not to say that it is an inevitable, although regrettable phenomenon, due to incorrigible wickedness of men; it is to affirm that it is a factor in public health, an integral part of all societies
3.3 In a society in which criminal acts were no longer committed.. crime would not disappear.. it would only change its form, for the very cause which would thus dry up the sources of criminality would immediately open up new ones
4 Social Strain/ Anomie and Crime (Merton 1938)
4.1 Can crime be understood as a product of disparities or 'strain' between socially prescribed goals and the means of achieving these roles?
4.1.1 ' a cardinal American virtue, ambition, promotes a cardinal American vice, deviant behaviour.' (Merton 1949)
4.1.2 Which factors increase the relationship between strain and crime? Perceived injustice of strain; difficulty of managing a critical mass of strain through legitimate means; reduction of social control; where strains facilitate criminal coping Agnew's (1992) General strain theory: The major strains= individuals are treated in a negative manner by others; individuals lose something they value; individuals are unable to achieve their goals, this leads to negative emotions and therefore crime. Factors that influence the effect of strains and negative emotions on crime= the ability to cope with strains in a legal manner; the costs of criminal coping; disposition for criminal coping. Contemporary Strain Theory: Messner and Rosenfield 1994 Studied: Why does the USA have higher levels of crime than any other industrial country? Crime is product of American dream, a culture that promotes: Achievement, celebration of winners and condemnation of losers; individualism, prioritising rights over responsibilities; materialism, subordination of other cultural goals to the pursuit of individual wealth; universalism, pervasive character of these values throughout entire society. Subordination of other social institutions (politics, family, education) to the pursuit of economic power (e.g. instrumental attitudes toward education; gross imblance between work and life); free market capitalism as criminogenic social formation. "There is nothing necessarily 'sick', pathological, dysfunctional, or disorganised about a society organised to produce high rates of crime.. a particular level and type of crime are a normal outcome of a specified set of cultural and social arrangements.. A low level of predatory crime would be a sign of something wrong with a society that places a premium on the individual competitive pursuit of financial gain, encourages people to create ever more efficient means of besting others, and offers comparatively little protection or comfort to the unsuccessful".
4.2 Dominant pressure of group standards of success in the context of: a gradual reduction in legitimate (and largely ineffective) strivings/ means; increased use of illegitimate (but more or less effective) means in the form of vice and crime
4.3 Incompatible cultural demands: promotion of prospect of wealth accumulation; denial of effective opportunities to do so institutionally; consequences of such structural inconsistency: psychopathological personality, anti social conduct, revolutionary activities
4.4 For Merton, anomie is "conceived as a breakdown in the cultural structure, occurring particularly when there is an acute disjunction between cultural norms and goals and the social structured capacities of members of the group to act in accord with them'
4.4.1 any society identifies certain culturally preferred goals. In american society this is material success (i.e. american dream) Not everyone can reach these goals and so there is a strain to anomie, a range of behavioural adaptations to these social and psychological circumstances Vold et al- merton is using a cultural argument to explain the nature of crime in american society andand a structural argument to explain its uneven distribution
4.5 Anomie is an ever -present cultural feature in american society (rather than a consequence of social change toward organic societies as Durkheim argued). There is a lack of legitimate means for most people to attain the ultimate goal of American society- material wealth- the American dream.; As a consequence most people feel strain between this cultural goal and the institutional means of achieving it; nonetheless, people adapt to strain in different ways.
4.6 Criticisms of Merton's strain theory:
4.6.1 limited focus on lower class crime; preoccupation with goals of middle class wealth and status; barriers to achievement, other than stratification (gender, ethnicity, intelligence etc.); explaining why those experiencing strain do not commit crime. Can strain explain crimes of the powerful? increasingly complex modelling of strain theory, e.g. Agnew strain theories are criticised for reliance on official statistics to demonstrate claims about strain Problem of over-predicting offending behaviour and ignoring role of social control in producing crime (e.g. labelling) Challenged for its 'correctionalism' and failure to explain the origins of strain in social conflicts rather than deviance from norms
5 Ecology and crime
5.1 The Chicago School's ecology of the city (Park and Burgess, 1925); Logic of city growth produces different neighbourhood ecologies (zones); the zone of transition= inner city neighbourhoods characterised by high turnover (transition) of resident populations which undermines social organisation.
5.2 Shaw and Mckay, 1942, Social Organisation and the cultural transmission of deviance
5.2.1 statistical correlation between juvenile offenders' residence and urban neighbourhoods in the zone of transition; consistency of this correlation over time
5.2.2 In the urban areas of high economic status where the rates of delinquency are low, there is, in general, a similarity in the attitudes of the residents with reference to conventional values; in contrast, the areas of low economic status where the rates of delinquency are high, are characterised by wide diversity in norms and standards of behaviour.; Children living in such communities are exposed to a variety of contradictory standards and forms of behaviour rather than to a relatively consistent and conventional pattern.
5.3 The Chicago School- the legacy
5.3.1 Social disorganisation as a 'sensitising concept'. Chicago sociologists were among the first to sensitise people to an awareness of the ordering effect of communities and groups (Heidensohn, 1989); Fundamentally, people perceive crime as an area problem
5.3.2 Methodological innovation; participant observation, life histories; 'concrete humans cannot be grasped in abstraction' (Plummer, 1983)
5.3.3 neighbourhoods influence a remarkably wide variety of social phenomena, including crime, health, civic engagement, home foreclosures, teen births, altruism, leadership networks and immigration.
5.4 Subcultural groups and crime
5.4.1 Subculture as a determinant of delinquency; delinquent boys: the culture of the gang (A. Cohen); juvenile offending is based on the search for status rather than for material advantage ( good explanation for non utilitarian crime?); 'status frustration' given exclusion of working class boys from achieveing middle class goals; collective solution- 'reaction formation'; status is accomplished through the celebration of criminogenic values such as aggression, hedonism and immediate gratification.
5.4.2 Matza (1964), boring delinquents, young offenders drift into delinquency, despite otherwise supporting conventional norms; techniques of neutralisation, or the means by which they justify their own deviancy- having felt the need to justify it.., denial of responsibility; denial of injury; denial of the victim; condemnation of the condemners; appeals to higher loyalties

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