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Sociological Theories and application

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Details: After a few uneventful weeks, you receive a call from Sergeant Ferraday of the local police department. "We got a series of home invasions we think may be related. They are all occurring in the inner city areas that transition from downtown to residential neighborhoods. I was reading a magazine article that said a good psychologist could use sociological theories and ideas to explain crimes like these. If you could give it a try, it might really go a long way toward helping us catch the person perpetrating these crimes and prevent future offenses."

Which sociological theories might help explain why these burglaries are occurring?

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Solution Summary

This solution addresses an inner city problem of break-ins and whether or not sociological theories might explain them. Robert Merton's "Social Anomie" questions whether or not society's expectations can be met, or if Durkheim's tighter social ties theory could resolve this problem of burglaries. Consideration could be given as to whether the problems leading to these crimes are bio-psychological or social-psychological. Perhaps Smith, Gendreau and Goggin's "Principles of Effective Intervention" could be helpful or a study and implementation of the conflict cycle. A variety of different problems in social behavior are discussed.

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In "Social Structure and Anomie" Robert K. Merton (1938) argued that norms are violated because of the discrepancies between the goals that the cultural society expects and "the structural opportunities to achieve these goals. This creates pressure and results in norm violations. The greater the difference between the goals and opportunities, the great the chance for the violations. Durkheim, ([1897], 1966) believed that the tighter the social ties and/or relationships, the less likely that a person is to commit suicides. These two theories represent emphasis on social structure, i.e. "repetitive, stable patterns of social interaction" (Liska and Messner, 1999).

The other half of sociological theories is social process, representing change or development of social interaction over time (ibid). Howard S. Becker in Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (1963) uses the example of how regular use of marijuana occurs. First the smoker must learn to inhale, then identify the effects and finds the effects to be pleasurable. There is a process through which a drug user (or others who engage in deviant behavior) goes to reach the deviance. Like all theories both find their detractors. Very often deviant ...

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