Crime Kirkpatrick 2005 in the Term Paper

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Every culture may identify some behavior as deviant, but a given behavior will not be defined as deviant in all cultures:

Deviance" refers to conduct which the people of a group consider so dangerous or embarrassing or irritating that they bring special sanctions to bear against the persons who exhibit it. Deviance is not a property inherent in any particular kind of behavior; it is a property conferred upon that behavior by the people who come into direct or indirect contact with it (Erikson, 1966, p. 6).

Erikson suggests that the deviance identified by a community says something about the boundaries that community sets for itself. He notes that both the conformist and the deviant are created by the same forces in the community, for the two complement one another. Indeed, Erikson says that deviance and conformity are much alike, so much so that they appear in a community at exactly those points where deviant behavior is most feared:

Men who fear witches soon find themselves surrounded by them; men become jealous of private property soon encounter eager thieves (Erikson, 1966, p. 22).

The interactionist or labeling perspective examines those social and psychological processes that take place among actors, audiences, and third parties in terms of their impact upon the personal and social-public identity of the actor (Kelly, 1979, p. 49). Tannenbaum (1979) describes the process as a dramatic one by which the deviant is so labeled by the community and begins to act out deviant behavior. Tannenbaum describes the process in terms of a delinquent:

It cannot be too often emphasized that for the child the whole situation has become different. He now lives in a different world. He has been tagged. A new and hitherto non-existent environment has been precipitated out for him (Tannenbaum, 1979, p. 162).

Labeling theory shows why the homosexual population has for so long accepted its lot and conformed to the deviant label placed upon it, following what Tannenbaum calls the dramatization of evil.

The fact that the definition of deviance derives from the majority population does not mean that the deviant group, in this case the street gangs, are not at fault for their own behavior. The theory only helps explain how gangs develop as a way of forming a community that works for its members. Shaw and McKay (1969) have provided a number of studies of environmental and familial influences and how they operate. Many of their studies are on the issue of delinquency and the etiology of criminal conduct among young people. In their book Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas, they use data from Chicago on delinquency and social status to explore how different communities seem to affect the crime statistics. They approach their subject with an eye to discovering the elements in the environment which affect criminal behavior in order to develop ways to alter those elements to reduce the incidence of crime.

This sort of study has long suggested ways in which the deviant sub-culture of street gangs has been formed and might suggest ways to control for it, though to date such efforts have not been successful.

References

Erikson, K.T. (1966). Wayward Puritans. New York: Macmillan.

Kelly, DH (1979). Deviant behavior. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Kirkpatrick, D.D. (2005, May 12). House bill toughens penalties for gangs. The New York Times.

Schoeman, M.I. (2002). A classification system and interdisciplinary action plan for the prevention and management of recidivism. University of Pretoria.

Shaw, C.R. & McKay, H.D. (1969). Juvenile delinquency and urban areas. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Erikson, K.T. (1966). Wayward Puritans. New York: Macmillan.

Kelly, DH (1979). Deviant behavior. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Kirkpatrick, D.D. (2005, May 12). House bill toughens penalties for gangs. The New York Times.

Schoeman, M.I. (2002). A classification system and interdisciplinary action plan for the prevention and management of recidivism. University of Pretoria.

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