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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Week 5 Discussion 2 - Criminological Theory.

  • How might a social control theorist respond to the idea that a person's environment should not be used as an excuse for poor behavior? Why?
A social control theorist would explain that a person's environment has a lot to do with a WHY a person might commit a crime, not necessarily as a defense for the behavior. “...the rise of the study of criminal justice as a discipline helped move criminology in a more pragmatic and system-oriented direction. The increase in the government’s interest and funding for criminal justice projects and crime fighting served to enhance the pragmatic nature of the movement. As a result, criminology was relatively free of theoretical work and until about 1990 was left with its final theoretical inventions from the 1960s (Williams, 1984). The theory meeting nearly everyone’s personal explanation for criminal behavior was Hirschi’s version of social control theory. “(Williams & McShane, 2014, p.162). In addition, the presence of crime within a society is considered a normal situatiom.
  • What kind of information about Gardner's background would a social control theorist require in order to be fully informed about Gardner's environment and to explain how he improved his life? Why?
A social control theorist would want to know about Gardner's family and how it disciplined him during his formative years as well his peer groups as a child and especially as a teenager. This information would give the social control theorist an idea of the social norms that he learned as well as the punishments and rewards used to teach him those norms.
  • Can the environment of individuals impact the likelihood that they would be able to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps and succeed in a conventional lifestyle?” How?
Yes, the environment, especially as a young person, has an effect on a person's ability to live by social norms as opposed to deviant standards. Turner discusses the factors that affect a person's resiliency to even bad environments. He categorizes them as ”four different domains: (1) intrapersonal; (2) family; (3) peer; and (4) neighborhood.”(2001, p.28)
  • If Gardner, frustrated with his life, had taken up a career of crime, which criminological theories could have been utilized to defend his actions?
No theories could DEFEND criminal actions, but had Gardner turned to crime we could use several ideas to EXPLAIN his behavior. If we use differential association theory, we sould compare “bad” Gardner to “good” Brescia, who “might have learned positive values from people who might have been close to him. He, therefore, refrained from ever doing anything against the law. ( South University Online, 2010, para. 2) We could have then have then looked to “bad” Gardner's past associates to see if they were deviantlly oriented. Similarly, we could have used social learning theory to discuss the concept that “ behavior is a product of present and past events in the life of the individual. The contingencies of reinforcement and punishment (aversive stimuli) determine whether the frequency of any particular behavior is increased or diminished.We discuss here six basic principles: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, negative punishment, discriminative stimuli, and schedules.” (Williams & McShane, 2014, p.179). We could have then attempted to examine those factors in young “bad” Gardner's life
  • What social control mechanisms might Gardner have encountered in his early life that could have aided his behavior later in life?
Family, school, peers that would have reinforced social bonding, church, the support of neighbors, and and a variety of youth programs could have all played a part in why Gardner chose to perservere in his life.
Does labeling count as a social control mechanism? We have the example of Oprah's grandma, who made sure that Oprah had a positive self-image from early childhood.

South University Online. (2010). MCJ6003: Criminological Theory: Week 5: Mike Brescia (2 of 2). Retrieved May 5, 2014 from myeclassonline.com

Turner, M. (2001) Good kids in bad circumstances: A longitudinal analysis of resilient youth. National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS). Retrieved May 5, 2014 from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/188263.pdf

Williams, F. & McShane, M. (2014) Criminology Theory (6th edition). Pearson

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