Sociological Views of Delinquency

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Chapter 4 of 14

Culture of poverty

View that lower-class people form a separate culture with their own values and norms, which are sometimes in conflict with conventional society.

Underclass

Group of urban poor whose members have little chance of upward mobility or improvement.

Truly disadvantaged

According to William Julius Wilson, those people who are left out of the economic mainstream, and reduced to living in the most deteriorated inner-city areas.

Social structure theories

These theories tie delinquency rate to both socioeconomic structural conditions and cultural values.

Social disorganization

Neighborhood or areas marked by culture conflict, lack of cohesiveness, a transient population, and insufficient social organizations; these problems are reflected in the problems at schools in these areas.

Transitional neighborhood

Area undergoing a shift in population and structure, usually from middle-class residential to lower-class mixed use.

Cultural transmission

The process of passing on deviant traditions and delinquent values from one from one generation to the next.

Social control

Ability of social institutions to influence human behavior; the justice system is the primary agency of formal social control.

Relative deprivation

Condition that exists when people of wealth and poverty live in close proximity to one another; the relatively deprived are apt to have feelings of anger and hostility, which may produce criminal behavior.

Gentrified

The process of transforming a lower-class area into a middle-class enclave through property rehabilitation.

Collective efficacy

A process in which mutual trust, and a willingness to intervene in the supervision of children and help maintain public order, creates a sense of well being in a neighborhood, and helps control anti-social activities.

Strain

A condition caused by the failure to achieve one's social goals.

Anomie

Normlessness produced by rapidly shifting moral values; according to Merton, anomie occurs when personal goals cannot be achieved using available means.

General strain theory

Links delinquency to the strain of being locked out of the economic mainstream, which creates the anger and frustration that lead to delinquent acts.

Negative affective states

Anger, depression, disappointment, fear, and other adverse emotions that derive from strain.

Cultural deviance theory

Links delinquent acts to the formation of independent subcultures, with a unique set of values, that clash with the mainstream culture.

Culture conflict

When the values of a subculture clash with those of the dominant culture.

Socialization

The process of learning the values and norms of the society or the subculture to which the individual belongs.

Parental efficacy

Parents are said to have parental efficacy when they are supportive and effectively control their children in a noncoercive fashion.

Social learning theories

Posit that delinquency is learned through close relationships with others; assert that children are born "good" and learn to be "bad" from others.

Differential association theory

Asserts that criminal behavior is learned primarily in interpersonal groups, and that youths will become delinquent if definitions they learn in those groups are favorable to violating the law.

Social control theories

Posit that delinquency results from a weakened commitment to the major social institutions (family, peers, and school); lack of such commitment allows youths to exercise antisocial behavioral choices.

Social bond

Ties a person to the institutions and processes of society; elements of the bond include attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief.

Stigmatized

People who have been negatively labeled because of their participation, or alleged participation, in deviant or outlawed behaviors.

Labeling theory

Posits that society creates deviance through a system of social control agencies that designate (or label) certain individuals as delinquent, thereby stigmatizing them and encouraging them to accept this negative personal identity.

Self-labeling

The process by which a person who has been negatively labeled accepts the label as a personal role or identity.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Deviant behavior patterns that are a response to an earlier labeling experience; youths act out these social roles even if they were falsely bestowed.

Critical theories

The view that inter-group conflict, borne out of the unequal distribution of wealth and power, is the root cause of delinquency.

Deinstitutionalization

Removing juveniles from adult jails, and placing them in community-based programs, to avoid the stigma attached to these facilities.

Restorative justice

Non-punitive strategies for dealing with juvenile offenders that make the justice system a healing process rather than a punishment process.

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