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Who is to blame, the individual or society?

James T. Johnson is a 24-year-old construction worker who lives at home with his mother. During the week, he goes to work on time, does his work, and comes home. Occasionally, he will go out with a group of coworkers on a Friday evening. He has one other secret. He burglarizes homes and garages in the neighboring communities, selling what he steals via the internet or at pawn shops two counties over.

This past weekend, he was arrested during a burglary when he entered a home where the home owner was present. His mother had to mortgage her home to bail him out of jail. While driving him home, she started to berate him, stating that he has ended up "just like his father, a criminal" and that she will probably end up dying early due to the stress of having a criminal son.

James was angry and blurted out that it was her fault, that this was the only life he knew because his father never taught him anything worthwhile. He said that his mother and father fought all the time, and the main subject of the their fights was his constant drinking.

Do you think James learned his behavior from his father? Explain your reasoning.
Could there have been other contributing factors that would have an effect on the problem? Explain.
Do you think that if James were removed from his home as a juvenile, he would have become a burglar?
Are the statements from James about responsibility only used to shift blame? Why or why not?
Research reaction formation, and apply this theory to James's situation.
How is this related to strain theory? Explain.
How is this related to subculture perspective? Explain.

Solution Preview

Do you think James learned his behavior from his father? Explain your reasoning.

James may have incorporated some of his behavior from his father but if his mother instilled good values in him, this doesn't excuse the behavior or explain why he has turned out to be a criminal. His mother is arguing as if she was a law abiding citizen while he grew up and that she wasn't a part of her husband's criminality and didn't endorse it. If this is true, then she should have warned James of the criminal lifestyle and where it would lead him to because if she didn't, she has little room to speak on James behavior. James could have witnessed the male figure in his life engaging in criminal behavior and begun to identify with this lifestyle as it is plausible but many households with two parents have children that engage in criminality and those who don't even if one of the parents is a criminal. Therefore it is probable that more factors have shaped James behavior besides the fact that his father engaged in criminality.

Could there have been other contributing factors that would have an effect on the problem? Explain.

Yes, many different factors could have contributed to James actions including peer pressure from friends while growing up to steal, James own financial reasons for burglarizing homes despite having a job, and drugs or alcohol addictions that could necessitate that he steal to fund his habit. Any of these reasons could explain why James was caught burglarizing home despite the fact that he has a job. These factors could also exacerbate any underlying issues that he had as a result of watching the criminality of his dad ...

Solution Summary

The expert determines who is to blame for an individual society.

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