SOC 444 Midterm

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the concept socially created to describe that period of life between childhood and adulthood

What is Juvenile Delinquency

any act that, if committed by an adult, or any act that the juvenile court may deem inappropriate and for which a juvenile can be adjudicated delinquent would be a crime

Mens Rea

Knowing right from wrong
Concept of mens rea still prevails in the US and typically set the minimum age for delinquency at 7

Status Offences

illegal due to the status of the juvenile offenders
--Not criminal in the usual sense but appear to conflict with the best interests of a community or the youth

Role Definition

the individual who sustains a pattern of delinquency over a long period of time, and whose life and identity are organized around of pattern of deviant behavior
--Rejects the notion that the casual or occasional experimenter with such behavior as truancy, vandalism, fighting and running away is a true juvenile delinquent

Social Status

the prestige position of a person in relation to other persons in the social group or society

Ascribed Status vs. Achieved Status

•Ascribed status: a status position or level of prestige assigned to an individual on the basis of certain social criteria such as race, sex and parents social status
•Achieved status: usually based upon educational level and occupation

Social Role

the behavioral performance expected of a person who holds a certain status in the social group or society

The Societal Response Definition

in order for an act or an actor to be defined as deviant or delinquent, and audience must perceive and judge the behavior in questions
-Audience: the social group or society to which the actor belongs or aspires to belong

Problems with the societal response definition

•Labeling perspective views delinquency as a social label placed on juvenile and their actions when those viewing the acts judge them to be deviant

The Sociological Perspective

holds that human behavior is generally a social act that can be traced to powerful forces in the social environment surrounding each 'actor'


rules, standards, laws, regulations, customs, and traditions—the do's and don'ts of human conduct and social interaction.

Prescriptive Social Norms

they "prescribe" certain kinds of behavior as acceptable or desirable

Proscriptive Social Norms

they prohibit certain kinds of behavior as unacceptable to society

Social Conflict Theory on Norms

-a great many norms are founded on the political and economic power of dominant owners of property who comprise a ruling class rather than on the cultural consensus of the common people.
-Marx-viewed the normative system of society as generated by the greed of the ruling capitalistic class in order to consolidate its ownership of the means of production and to control the working classes.
-Class conflicts as original source of norms


informal agreements or understandings about what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior


important and seriously enforced societal norms
-salient norms in that they are perceived as germane to the overall cohesion and survival of society.


formal norms that are systematically written down in a legal code that defines their violation as criminal behavior and prescribe the method and degree of punishment

Normative Behavior


Norms as group-shared expectations for behavior.
Conformity: the attempt to maintain a normative standard established by a social group.

Deviant Behavior

conduct that is perceived by others as violating institutionalized expectations that are widely shared and recognized as legitimate within the society.
*Violation of Norms
Sociologists have discovered that the members of society display a paradoxical and generous amount of tolerance for much deviant behavior, depending on several important variable:
1. the nature of the offense can determine the level of society's tolerance for norm violation.
2. the social status of the offender
3. the cultural context in which it occurs.
Cultural relativity: an act that violates the norms of one particular society may represent approved conformity from the point of view of another social group.
4. tolerance for nonconforming behavior often has a temporal dimension : types of behavior that are disapproved at one time may be tolerated and even encouraged at a later time.


a measure has validity when it in fact measures what it is supposed to measure


: a measure has reliability when it yields the same results upon repetition of the measuring procedures or replication by other investigators


uniform crime reports

FBI has been compiling arrest date on crime and delinquency from a network of law enforcement agencies across the country
• Each year the FBI summarizes its date into statistical tables and issues a Uniform Crime Report of the information and use of law enforcement officers and other concerned with national crime problem
• FBI Uniform Crime Report designed to attain 3 basic objectives
o To measure the extent, fluctuation, distribution and nature of serious crime in the US
o To measure the total outcome of serious crime known to the police
o To show the activity and coverage of law enforcement agencies though arrest counts and police employee strength data

Index Offenses

o Murder and non-negligent manslaughter - the willful killing of one human by another
o Forcible rape - the carnal knowledge of a female forcible and against her will
o Robbery - taking or attempting to take anything of value form the care, custody or control of a person by force or threat of force or violence and or by putting the victim in fear
o Aggravated assault - an unlawful attach by a person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury
o Burglary - the unlawful entry or attempted entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft
o Larceny(theft) - the unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property form the possession or constructive possession of another
o Motor vehicle theft - the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle
o Arson - any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn a dwelling house, pubic building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another


contended that there is a positive relationships between these specific verbal functions and the formation or shape of the human skill

Classical School of criminological thought

o Humans are rational, reasoning individuals who weigh and control their actions and destinies
o Criminal is responsible for personal behavior
o Punishment should fit the crime
o Punishment was thought to be appropriate under most circumstances and for most offenses because it was assumed that crimes were the result of free will based on reasoned decisions

Flaw in classical criminological thought

• Classical - neoclassical approach has been criticized for overlooking how society is a major force in shaping human behavior
• Levels of poverty, alienation, social status and numerous other forces must be taken into account

Positive School of criminology

denied the existence of free will and argued that each person is born with an innate propensity toward certain forms of behavior
-used biology
•Lombroso's concluded that there is a born criminal type

Freudian theory as an explanation of crime and delinquency

• Freud and many non Freudians have argued that crime is an outgrowth of the repressed, unconscious, emotional traumas of a childhood
• Most crime is a result of an imbalance in the offenders ego between uncontrolled drives and society's expectations about behavior
• The problem is an overtly strict superego in which the offender as a child, was socialized with a supercharged unconscious sense of guilt
• As drives are repressed, pressures build up until the drives become manifest in abnormal and dangerous ways
• Freud contended that children and adults often misbehave in order to be punished, which then temporarily relieves their guilt
• Much deviant delinquent behavior has been credited to a deficiency or underdeveloped superego

Social Learning Theories

•Dominated by the assumption that virtually all human behavior is social learned
•Deviance must be learned through the complex process of socialization
•Socialization: a process in which we learn and internalize the attitudes, values and beliefs, and norms or our culture and develop a sense of self
•Learning to function as social beings and to participate in group life in a society

(SLT) Theory of Differential Association

o Most criminal/delinquent behavior is learned through contact with criminal elements and patters that are present, acceptable and rewarded in ones physical and social environment

(SLT) Differential Identification

oEmphasized an individuals ability to make choices and take on social roles
oIt is not merely association with criminal or delinquents that is important, but the extent to which the individual identifies with those who are involved in criminal and delinquent patterns of conflict
oCriminal role models may be real or imaginable

(SLT) Differential Rienforcement

o The view that deviant behavior is learned and acted out in response to rewards and reinforcements that are available in the individual environment
o People are motivated to behave in a certain way if they have rewarded for doing so

• Criticisms and Limitations of Social Learning Theories

question the relationship between delinquency and association with other delinquents
•It may be that as delinquents are rejected from the conforming segments of society they are forced to seek association with each other
•This means that delinquent groups do not general delinquency but rather they collect and concentrated it
oCritics also question the generality of social learning theories
•These theories do not cover crimes of impulse or passion or delinquencies springing from emotional maladjustment
oAnother criticism is that even in areas of high crime and delinquency, there are many non delinquents
•It has been suggested that some children and insulated form primary contact and intimated associate with neighborhood delinquency by their unaggressive disposition or careful parental supervision
•Also, many other juveniles are only episodically involved in delinquent activities
•Poverty stricken inner cities containing lower class minorities and criminal elements do not produce delinquency in ALL young people residing there
o deviants do not consistently give moral support to cone another by approving deviant acts

Social Control Theories

Asks "What causes conformity?"
-Why do people insist on behaving in a certain way despite rules to the contrary?
There are Delinquents and non-delinquents
*Social control theories include a focus on conformity as an approach to identifying and explaining the causes of deviance and juvenile delinquency.

-All of us contain the potential to commit deviant acts
-The reason that people do not commit deviant acts is seen as a result of effective restraint or social control.

(SCT) Reckless Containment Theory

designed to control the individual and protect society from deviant or antisocial behavior. Includes two types of containment:
1. Inner Containment: defense barrier—the ability of the person to resist temptations to deviate and to maintain normative loyalty.
-one protective barrier is socialized into each member of society and is comprised of such personal attributes: self control, self concept, internalization of social norms.
2. Outer containment: the formidable array of legal demands and prohibitions that keep most people within the behavioral bounds of their society—backed up by official law-enforcement agencies.

--the barriers of inner and outer containment are subjected to the onslaughts of powerful "push factors" within the individual and "pull factors" within the individuals social environment.
Push factors: mental conflict, anxiety, alienation and frustration.
Pull Factors: membership in a street gang or participation in a criminal subculture.

(SCT) Techniques of Neutralization

argued that much delinquency occurs because many young persons, under simultaneous pressure from society to conform and from a peer group or subculture with conflicting values and norms urging them to deviate, will extend a set of psychological defense mechanisms to justify delinquent behavior.
-they rationalize their actions with a set of sliding, situational ethics.
-juvenile delinquents are neither members of a deviat subculture that adheres to a totally different set of norms, nor are they victims of anomie (norm less) as a result of social disorganization.

5 major techniques of Neutralization

1. Denial of Responsibility-delinquent contends that acts are due to forces beyond ones control
2. Denial of Injury-insists that although a law was violated, nobody was hurt (theft and vandalism are mere pranks)
3. Denial of the Victim- the victim may be depicted as one deserving of injury (gay bashing)
4. Condemnation of the condemners- may shift the attention away from personal actions to the motives or behaviors of those who show disapproval. (Children get in trouble for drinking, but parents drink too)
5. Appeal to higher loyalties- the delinquent argues that the social expectations and demands of smaller groups must take precedence over the social expectations of society.

(SCT) Hirschi's Social Bond theory

sought to explain why some juveniles do not break the law.
Social bond- attaches a person to the basic values and expected behaviors of society. Social bond is established early in childhood through a natural attachment to parents, teacher, peers, etc...
-If the social bond is firmly intact for an individual, there will be no pattern of delinquent behavior.
-If the social bond is weakened or absent, juvenile delinquency can be expected.

Four elements of the social bond that tie an individual to conventional society and thus prevent juvenile delinquency

1. Attachment: this emotional dimension of the social bond explains conformity as emanating from sensitive regard and respect for one's fellow human beings.
2. Commitment: encompasses an individuals pursuit of idealized and conventional objectives, such as the development of an occupational career.
3. Involvement: an individuals preoccupation and heavy investment of time and effort in conventional pursuits. -reduces ones availability for deviant activities
4. Belief: ones perception of the moral worth of societal norms.

Criticisms and limitations of Social Control Theories

rejecting the notion that delinquency is an inherent potentiality in all human beings. -others believe in greater biological determinism and more freedom from deviant influences.

Labeling Theories

• Labeling theory focuses less of deviant acts themselves and instead focuses on the actor and the audience and their perceptions of each other

• Societal judgments regarding role assignments and the behavioral expectations regarded as appropriate for those roles are powerful forces in society
o It becomes normative and sometimes mandatory for people to comply with role "labels" that have been applied to them
• The principles of roles, social status and expectations make up the foundation for Labeling Theory

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

when the members of a social group define a person or event in a certain way, they may in fact shape future circumstance s and activities so that the anticipated and the projected behavior come to pass

(LT) Primary Deviance

when an individual may commit a deviant act but does not internalize the deviant concept and continues to occupy the role of conformist

(LT) Secondary Deviance

when an individuals self concept is altered and the deviant role is personally assumed

mala in se

inherently evil

mala prohibita

considered evil only because they are prohibited

Criticisms of Labeling Theory

criticized the theory's focus on societal reaction as a key factor in producing deviance
o He suggested that this approach is defective in that it tends to deny the existence of deviance as any reality apart form the process of social adjudication of deviance
o This approach cant tell us why one person rather than another person commits deviant acts

Radical Conflict Theories

• View adult crime and juvenile delinquency as labels that are selectively applied to specified individuals and groups whose behavior is disturbing to those who are in a position to attach such labels and implement social sanctions.

• The Marxian Heritage-roots of theory can be traced to Karl Marx.—saw capitalism as an evil economic system that intensified and perpetuated the separation and ranking of social classes.
o Unequal distribution of wealth and power is the major causal explanation behind norm-violating behavior.

(RCT) Quinney's Social Reality of Crime and Delinquency

Crime and delinquency can best be understood in relation to how a society creates its criminal laws, defines crime and delinquency and what practices it implements to control its citizens.
1. implies that activities and conduct by youths which are perceived by adults as threats to the authority and privileged status enjoyed by adults are those most likely to be defined and punished as delinquency. 2. It indicates that underclass and minority youths are more likely to be involved in activites that are seen as threatening the existing social order, and hence, far more likely than their white middle- and upper-class counterparts to be punished by legal authorities
• Quimney's theory of criminal behavior contains definite undertones of Marxian class conflict and was summarized in six propositions

(RCT) Quimney's theory of criminal behavior contains definite undertones of Marxian class conflict and was summarized in six propositions

o The official Definition of Crime: created by agents of the dominant class in a politically organized society
o Formulating Definitions of Crime: Definitions of crime are composed behaviors that conflict with the interests of the dominant class
o Applying Definitions of Crime: applied by the class that has the power to shape the enforcement and administration of criminal law
o How behavior patterns develop in Relation to Definitions of Crime: structured in relation to definitions of crime, and within this context, people engage in actions that have relative probabilities of being defined as criminal
o Constructing an Ideology of Crime: constructed and diffused by the dominant class to secure its hegemony
o Constructing the Social Reality of Crime: the formulation and application of definitions of crime, the development of behavior patterns in relation to these definitions, and the construction of an ideology of crime.

Criticisms of Radical Conflict Theory

• Dichotomous division into good and evil systems is not as simple as theorists suggest.
• Failure of radical/conflict theory to empirically test its propositions as an important limitation of its explanatory power

Rational Choice Theory

takes the position that youths usually access a less emotional and more logical decision making process that weirs the potential benefits and costs before action on the delinquent impulse and opportunity
• Offenders make conscious decision about whether to engage in criminal or delinquent behaviors and what tactics to use to commit the offence
• These decisions are primarily couched in economic terms as to whether the reward form the act outweighs the effort and potential consequences

Deterrence Theory

encompasses a spectrum of contemporary "get tough" treatment policies and programs, ranging from the reinstatement of corporal punishment in schools to demands that youths indicted for serious crimes should face adult criminal courts and the possibility of more sever penalties, include capital punishment

Evaluation of Rational Choice and Deterrence Theories

•Generality of rational choice theory is limited by the fact that most of its support based on studies of the thought patterns and criminal activities of adults, not juveniles
•Critics also charged that rational choice theory and deterrence theory have oversimplified the assumed motivational process behind criminal and delinquent behavior by dichotomously dividing rational choices into good or bad

Social Strain and Cultural transmission theories

o Focus almost exclusively on males—pressure on males to achieve societal goals often created social strain which led to delinquency
o Masculinity was at the core of delinquency and the types of stress and strain experienced by lower-class females were largely ignored
o Female delinquency attributed to the inability of a few girls to meaningfully adapt to their "natural" roles as nurturers, caregivers, and eventually as wives and mothers
o Flaws when tested on females

Social Learning Theories applied to women

o Emphasize socialization and peer influence
o Gender roles are all about socialization as masculinity and femininity must be socially taught and learned
o Traditional male socialization: assertiveness, aggressiveness, dominance, competitiveness
o Traditional female socialization: passivity, cooperation, nurturing, submissiveness—less likely to get girls in trouble with the law
o Flaws when tested on females

Labeling Theories and Conflict Theories applied to women

o More substantial contributions to understanding female delinquency
o Since girls have been more involved in committing more status offenses than serious crimes—it can be seen how applying deviant labels by parents, teachers, peers, etc...could lead to the internalization of that label and secondary deviance.
o Conflict theories have even more application as males have historically occupied a privileged position in American societies.
o Females adapt to their disadvantaged positions by involvement in accommodative and predatory criminal behavior (shoplifting, prostitution, drug use)
o Viewing women as a minority class can help explain their involvement in crime.

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