Saturday, June 7, 2008

What I know so far

Some areas are stronger than others, but check this out!

Labeling theory: Started off as official labeling directing societal reaction, recent research has shown informal labeling via reflected appraisals are important as well. Official labeling still important because it has negative mental health consequences (Lanctot et al) and introduces people to deviant networks they wouldn't otherwise know (Bernberg, Krohn and Rivera)

Strain theory: Started off as purely economic strain (Merton), which argued ability & desire to achieve normative economic gains dictated whether or not someone would become involved in crime. Has evolved into General Strain Theory (GST) which takes emotions into consideration; GST argues introduction of negative stimuli or threat or removal of positive stimuli can cause crime.

General Theory of Crime: Self-control has consistently been proven to be related to criminality; however, recent research suggests that it may be biological, it may have to do with the self-control of the mother, and it may not be as stable and enduring as people was originally believed.

Social Learning Theory: Crime is learned from associations with peers via the establishment of deviance as normative, imitation of the behavior, excess of non-normative definitions, and differential reinforcement. The idea that peers are important began with the work of Sutherland (1942) and later Burgess and Akers (1966). Recent research has focused both on developing the idea of "friends" or "peers" to include siblings (Haynie and Mchugh, 2005), romantic partners (Haynie et al, 2004), and best friends (Weerman and Smeenk, 2005); the role of race and gender (Haynie and Payne, 2006; Mears et al, 1998); network placement (Kreager, 2005) and the mechanisms by which "definitions" work (Kreager, 2007; Rebellon, 2005).

Social Disorganization Theory: This theory originally argued two separate points: that crime is the result of the physical makeup of a city (Burgess, 1925) and that crime is the result of a breakdown in the social structure of a community (Thomas and Znaniecki, 1927). Since these ideas were originally formulated, research has shown that the physical structure of the community can influence its social structure (Shaw and McKay, 1942; Sampson and Groves, 1994), which in turn influences crime (Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls, 1997; Sampson and Raudenbush, 1999). Criticisms of this theory (Stark, 1987; Bursik, 1988, Kubrik and Weitzer, 2003) argue that social disorganization theory needs to recognize that communities to not exist in a vacuum and need to take into consideration the ability of the theory to explain group-level differences; these criticisms are reflected in the work of Morenoff and Sampson (1997), who show that black-white differences in exposure to crime may be due to the inability of poor African-Americans to adequately "escape" from violent neighborhoods; by Griffiths and Chavez (2004), who show that neighborhoods are not simply violent or non-violent and that actions (i.e., violence) in one neighborhood influences reactions (i.e., defensive diffusion) in adjacent neighborhoods; and by Mears and Bhati (2006) who show poverty-driven-violence in one neighborhood impacts violence in spatially and socially proximate communities.

The Life Course Perspective: Life course criminology originally took two forms. The first, proposed by Sampson and Laub (1990) suggested that everyone develops more or less equally as offenders but the accomplishment of certain age-graded transitions, namely stable employment and marriage, acted as motivating factors to desist from crime and delinquency. On the other hand, Moffitt (1993) argued that individual offenders could be categorized as either life-course persistent or adolescent limited offenders. This version of the theory argues that the majority of offenders are only involved in delinquency during adolescence; this is a way for most people to establish their adult identities without ever seriously intentionally becoming invested in a lifetime of crime. Their counterparts, the life-course persistent offenders, are those people who are involved in crime throughout their lifetimes and may have some cognitive or functional deficit driving their behavior. These people serve as models of deviancy for the adolescent limited offenders to impersonate. However enticing this theory may be, it has received little support (Sampson and Laub, 1997), as it appears that all offenders gradually desist over time, and that marriage (Sampson, Laub, and Wiemer, 2006) is an important factor in this process. Recent research on the importance of the life course has looked at adolescent victimization (Macmillan, 2001; Macmillan and Hagan, 2004), exposure to violence (Hagan and Foster, 2001), and the importance of both gender differences and the differential role of emotions (Giordano, Cernkovich, and Rudolph, 2002; Hagan and Foster, 2004). Recent research has also looked at the influence of other roles and characteristics over time; for example, Giordano et al (2008) show that religiosity is not related to criminality over the life course, while Maclean and Elder (2007) show that combat veterans have worse life course trajectories than noncombat veterans and nonveterans overall; this includes criminal activity, martial status, and socioeconomic attainment, the latter two being important because multiple theories have shown them to be important barriers to criminal involvement.

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