Juvenile Delinquency

  1. Sociological Theories
    THREE big categories

    • Social structure theories
    • Social process theories
    • Social reaction theories
  2. Social Structure Theories
    FOUR versions

    Social disorganization theory

    Relative deprivation theory

    Strain theory

    • Cultural deviance theory…Relative deprivation theory is primary assumption that brings all four together (
    • Crime is a byproduct of social stratification which is caused by an unequal distribution of wealth and resources
    • Difference in classes (poor, rich, middle class)
    • Most heavy crime areas are in poor communities)
  3. Social Disorganization Theory and critizism:
    Social Disorganization Theory: Found that highest rate of crime takes place in poor inner-city communities that are transitioning from higher to lower. Poverty leads to a breakdown in social control institutions, which leads to social disorganization, which leads to crime. Is not an individual thing but environmental.

    Criticism: Has to be some individual factor! If environment leads to crime then why don’t all people living in poor communities commit crimes?
  4. Relative Deprivation Theory and critizism:
    • Based on same statistics (poor=crime)
    • See there is a mix of social classes. It is the juxtaposition of classes. Where poor and rich people live next to each other they obtain income inequity which causes feelings of relative deprivation which causes feelings of anger leading to crime

    Criticism: Calling sense of injustice an envious feeling. This theory is validating envy, which is not good. Very disempowering.
  5. Strain Theory
    [Robert Murtan (founder)]

    All people share same values aspirations and beliefs. The ability to achieve these goals is stratified by economic status.

    It’s easier for rich people to reach materialistic goals unlike poor people

    Crime is a product of anger and frustration because poor people cannot reach goals
  6. FIVE social adaptations (Balance materialist goals w/ way of achieving)
    • Rebellion
    • Retreatism
    • Ritualism
    • Innovation
    • Conformity
  7. Conformity
    (most common) adaption. conforms to rules of society because they can afford it….for middle-upper-class
  8. Innovation:
    (most important) Person who doesn’t have resources but cannot conform because they can’t afford it so they make own rules to get materials…leads to stealing and committing crimes
  9. Ritualism and critisism
    repression of materialistic goals to conform to a person’s means by subscribing to religious structures that serve no real purpose or goal…(Go to church, happy with themselves)

    Criticism: Ritualism defeats whole theory. Assumes everyone shares same values and goals but then says some do not have same belief and “excuses” them away by ritualism.
  10. Retreatism:
    cant afford material things so they retreat from reality through drugs and alcohol (but not only poor people do this)
  11. Rebellion:
    Rejection of morality and goals and adopt a counter view-point (like communism, radicalism), because they can’t afford materialistic things
  12. Cultural Deviance theory (aka Theory of delinquency subculture) and critisism
    Albert Cohen’s (founder)

    Where does subculture come from?

    Cultural Deviance Theory: Delinquency subculture develops as a reaction or protest against standards of society that cannot be reached due to poverty (the inability to success according to certain standards)

    Criticism: So…what do we do? Cohen is biased; it is surely possible that some poor people could measure up. He proposes no solution at all
  13. Middle Class Measuring Rods
    Standards of success placed by authoritative figures. (getting good grades, extracurricular activist, good job)

    According to Cohen, poor people cannot be measured by measuring rods so they adapt their own view that is negative/opposite of middle class viewpoint. Usually criminal behavior
Card Set
Juvenile Delinquency
Sociological Theories