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Explanation for Criminality from a Sociological Perspective

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Explanation for Criminality from a Sociological Perspective

From a sociological perspective, explanation for criminality is found in two levels which are the subculture and the structural explanations. The sociological explanations emphasize aspects of societal arrangements that are external to the actor and compelling. A sociological explanation is concerned with how the structure of a society, institutional practices or its persisting cultural themes affect the conduct of its members. Individual differences are denied or ignored, and the explanation of the overall collective behavior is sought in the patterning of social arrangements that is considered to be both outside the actor and prior to him (Sampson, 1985).

That is, the social patterns of power or of institutions which are held to be determinative of human action are also seen as having been in existence before any particular actor came on that scene. In lay language, sociological explanations of crime place the blame on something social that is prior to, external to, and compelling of any particular person.

Sociological explanations do not deny the importance of human motivation. However, they locate the source of motives outside the individual and in the cultural climate in which they live. Political philosophers, sociologists and anthropologists have long observed that a condition of social life is that not all things are allowed. Standards of behavior are both a product of our living together and a requirement if social life is to be orderly.

The concept of culture refers to the perceived generation to generation and is somewhat durable. To call such behavior cultural does not necessarily mean that it is refined, but rather means that it is cultured. Hence it has been acquired, cultivated and persistent. Social scientists have invented the notion of a subculture to describe variations, within the a society, upon its cultural themes. In such circumstances, it is assumed that some cultural prescriptions are common to all members of society, but that modifications and variations are discernible within the society.

Again, it is part of the definition of a subculture, as of a culture, that is relatively enduring. Its norms are termed a style rather than a fashion on the grounds that the former has some endurance while the latter is evanescent. The quarrel comes of course when we try t...

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...tions and our interpretations of them and overall in this manner to describe how crime was produced.

References

Blumstein, Alfred. (1979). An Analysis. Crime and Delinquency 29 (October):546-60

Christiansen, K.O. (1977). A review of Studies in Criminality. In bases of criminal behavior, (Eds)., S.A. Mednick and K.O. Christiansen, (pp.641, 654-669). New York: Gardner.

Ferrington, David P. (1991). Explaining the Beginning and Progress. In Advances in Criminological Theory, (Eds)., Joan McCord, vol 3, (pp,191-199). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

Freeman, Richard B. (1983). The relationship between criminality and the disadvantaged.. Ch.6 In Crime and Public Policy, (Eds)., James Q. Wilson, (pp.917-991). San Francisco: ICS Press.

Herstein, Richard J. (1985). Crime and Human Nature. pp. 359-374, New York:Simone and Schuster.

Hirschi, Travis. (1969). Causes of Delinquency. pp. 30-31, 89-102, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sampson, R.J. (1985). Neighborhood Family Structure and the Risk of Victimization. In the Social Ecology of Crime, (Eds)., J.Byrne and R. Sampson, (pp.25-46). New York: Springer-Verlag.