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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘crime & deviance’

Could the Political Centre be making a Comeback?

    Could it just be that, with Bernie Sanders’ 13 April endorsement of Joe Biden as Democratic candidate in November’s presidential election – see the ABC News clip above – and the 4 April ascension of Keir Starmer to leadership of the Labour Party, the ‘centre’ is making a comeback in American and British politics? A new poll reported by The London Economic’s Jack Peat puts the centrist Starmer’s net favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘hardcore leftie’ he succeeded. (Of course, Corbyn was not really the Marxist the right-wing media slandered him as, though his views  were well to the left of Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband) Meanwhile Sanders’ concession to Biden effectively signals the end of what might be termed the Democrats’ ‘hard left’ campaign to win the nomination for presidential candidate. (By ‘hard left’ here, we mean the leftie side of social democracy; again Sanders is nothing like the Marxist some on the hard right claim he is!) Biden is decidedly centrist in his politics – some might even argue right of centre – but that enables him potentially to pick up leftie Republican votes, especially those who are totally… Read More

Has Boris Johnson inadvertently done Us a Favour?

Boris Johnson has been roundly pilloried by the left-leaning press and by socialists and liberals on social media for his comments about burqa-wearing Muslim women looking “ridiculous” because burqas make their wearers look like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”. But the criticisms have come not just from the left. Theresa May and Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis are among top Tories who have called for Johnson to apologise. The party has received so many complaints, an investigation into whether Johnson’s already- infamous article in the Daily Telegraph has brought the party into disrepute is proposed. Separately some MPs – such as Labour’s Jon Trickett – have called for Johnson to be disciplined for breaking the Ministerial Code (BBC News, 2018d). In the wake of Johnson’s Telegraph article, there has been a spike in attacks on Muslim women wearing burqas and niqabs – reported by The Independent’s Lizzie Dearden, among others. This tweet by Amanda Fleiss and posted to Facebook by Huddersfield TUC captures the indignity and distress of one such attack. As reported by The Independent’s Joe Watts (2018b) amongst others, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has demanded that Johnson is subjected to a full disciplinary investigation and that there is… Read More

The 5Ps #3

PART 3 Summary In the early days of an SDi enterprise we consider the issues, stakeholders and their intentions – and the complex environment in which they mesh. This helps us to broaden our apertures and create new understanding. As this exploration ripens, we take our enhanced understanding and transform it into new possibilities. This can take the form of developing future scenarios and/or pilot projects. To maintain momentum and deepen learning, we share stories, practice new skills and assess the outcomes of our initiatives. As we learn by doing, members of the MeshWORK endeavour continuously refine, adapt and align the 5 components to achieve superordinate goals. Practical application: An appreciation for Afghan culture played an integral role in our collaborative approach to successfully addressing socio-economic needs in impoverished villages. Close observation showed us positive deviance and culturally-relevant solutions. Brainstorming helped us discover common ground. Collaborative forums facilitated collective action. Storytelling generated momentum. A collaborative approach, embraced by our senior and junior leaders, helped build a countryside network of stakeholders. This network coalesced around mutual interests that focused on security, stability, development and governance at the local, regional and national levels. By building bridges between Kabul-based organizations and rural communities, we… Read More

The 5Ps #2

PART 2 Process Just as careful consideration in selecting the appropriate people and place are critical factors in a successful MeshWORKS effort, the process that stakeholders use also requires thoughtful planning. From an SDi perspective, this means creating alignment and integration in the MeshWORK’s design. In alignment we gather pertinent stakeholders with diverse vMEMES to identify the root causes of the challenge and paint a comprehensive picture of what is happening in the environment. This helps us to understand what we will do with whom. This thoughtful analysis sets up for success during the integration phase where we put our strategic vision into action. W conduct pilot projects, learn and adapt, and scale accordingly all the while scanning the environment for patterns. In this phase, then, we focus on how we should support stakeholders to address their concerns. A MeshWORKS process should enable stakeholders to listen to and respect each other and to suspend judgement in order for everyone to voice new possibilities to the best of their abilities. This is not just an exercise in coming together to share information. The process evolves over time as stakeholders listen to each other and learn about each other’s concerns. This in turn… Read More

Online Censorship: where do we draw the Line?

by Carla White  I am delighted to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Carla White. Carla is an experienced writer and blogger who describes herself as “passionate about looking deeper into the world around us”. She writes ‘alternative’ news posts for numerous websites and also has experience running and maintaining websites. She says: “You can always find me at my laptop, with a cup of coffee!” You can email Carla to find out more about her work. Social conditioning has a considerable effect on crime. It was Émile Durkheim who first noted the existence of a values consensus when, in 1893, he wrote about a collective consciousness that defines societal norms and makes certain acts unthinkable to conforming citizens. This idea is one regularly used by governments as justification for censorship. By reiterating the taboo nature of certain topics, they hope to reduce mass indulgence in these things. Admittedly, this tactic has seen success. Child pornography, bestiality and cold-blooded murder are just some examples of topics that incite shock and terror in the hearts of most. However, whenever information is restricted on a national scale, an ethical question is raised. At what point does information control become an active manipulation of the collective conscience? A brief… Read More

Biological Factors in Crime #2

PART 2 Hormones In 1980 Dan Olweus et al measured blood testosterone level in institutionalised delinquent and non-delinquent 16-year-old boys and assessed aggression using a questionnaire. High levels of self-reported physical and verbal aggression were associated with higher levels of testosterone – though the results were not statistically significant. It was also noted that those with higher levels of testosterone were likely to respond more vigorously in response to challenges from teachers and peers. John Archer (1991), in a meta-analysis of 5 studies covering 230 males, found a low positive correlation between testosterone and aggression. However, the type of participant and the form and measurement of aggression differed substantially between the studies. Angela Book, Katherine Starzyk & Vernon Quensy (2001), in a meta-analysis of 45 studies, found a mean correlation of 0.14 between testosterone and aggression – though John Archer, Nicola Graham-Kevan & Michelle Davies (2005) challenged Book, Starzyk & Quinsey’s findings on the grounds of methodological problems with the study which meant that a correlation of 0.08 was more appropriate.  James Dabbs et al (1987) measured salivary testosterone in 89 violent and non-violent criminals and found those with a history of primarily violent crime had the highest levels of testosterone whereas… Read More

Operant Conditioning

Relaunched: 3 May 2020 Unlike Classical Conditioning, which is based on association, Operant Conditioning is based on consequences. The basic principle is that behaviour which brings reward is likely to be repeated to gain the reward again, thus reinforcing the behaviour; on the other hand, behaviour which brings punishment is unlikely to be repeated, to avoid the punishment. Operant Conditioning has its roots in the ‘instrumental learning’ work of Edward Thorndike (1905). His Law of Effect stated positive effects (rewards) of some behaviours ‘stamped in’ those behaviour while negative effects (punishments) of other behaviours ‘stamped out’ those behaviours. Thorndike had developed his ideas from ‘puzzle box’ experiments, usually with cats. Typically he placed a hungry, young and active cat in a box from which it could only escape by pulling on a loop attached to a string. (In  later  studies Thorndike used buttons and levers.) To motivate the hungry cat to escape, Thorndike hung fish outside the puzzle box door. The cat initially scratched, clawed and miaowed, exploring all corners and openings  in the box and trying to squeeze out.  Eventually it clawed at the loop, causing the door to open and allowing the cat to get the fish. On successive… Read More

When BLUE fails, call for Clint!

Updated: 25 August 2016 For those of us who were raised in the 1960s and 1970s, Clint Eastwood was arguably the ultimate ‘big screen tough guy’. Never impossibly-muscled like the generation of ‘action men’ who came after him – the likes of Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone – and rarely prone to the ridiculous levels of single-handed mass slaughter commonplace in their movies, Eastwood mostly played far more believable characters. And, because they were far more believable, Eastwood’s anti-heroes exuded a far greater sense of menace. Though Eastwood has long since moved on to become acclaimed as a director and filmmaker of quality, character-driven films with strong narratives, on the occasion this now rather-old actor gets his fists flailing, he is still believable as someone who would very willingly do you serious harm. Periodically there are still Eastwood seasons on TV, usually built around one or more outings of his 2 main anti-heroes, the mysterious ‘Man with No Name’ gunslinger and the homicidal maverick cop ‘Dirty Harry’. That Eastwood can still command a TV season of his films, when most of his contemporaries are forgotten by all but the most devoted, is testament to the enduring power of the myth Eastwood… Read More

What is Globalisation?

Relaunched: 13 December 2016 “Despite huge differences in distance, upbringing and social context, many of us now listen to the same music, read the same books and watch the same films and television. Youth in Soweto listen to LA rap; viewers in southern China’s Guandong province watch pirated tapes of Jackie Chan; Sri Lankan refugee kids in Toronto come home from school to settle down in front of Tamil movies rented from the local grocery store. Teenagers and their young siblings in almost every place on earth know Bart and Lisa Simpson. I can sit at my home computer downloading the latest comminqués from Mexico’s indigenous Zapatista rebels and out of the corner of my eye watch the World Cup live from Korea on the TV in the next room.” Peter Steven (2004, p16-17) is describing the communication aspect of globalisation. Alan Cochrane & Kathy Pain (2000) describe other aspects:- “Drugs, crime, sex, disease, people, ideas, images, news, information, entertainment, pollution, goods and money now all travel the globe. They are crossing national boundaries and connecting the world on an unprecedented scale and with previously unimaginable speed. The lives of ordinary people everywhere in the world seem increasingly to be shaped by events,… Read More

Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism

Updated: 15 September 2016 Though records indicate there have always been a small minority of criminals and ‘wastrels’ who formed an ‘underclass’ at the bottom of whatever social stratification any society had at whatever stage in its history, it was Charles Murray (1989) who first identified this social class as an emerging and important factor in contemporary British society. Murray says of the term: “By ‘underclass’, I do not mean people who are merely poor, but people who are at the margins of society, unsocialised and often violent. The chronic criminal is part of the underclass, especially the violent chronic criminal. But so are parents who mean well but who cannot provide for themselves, who give nothing back to the neighbourhood, and whose children are the despair of the teachers who have to deal with them…. When I use the term ‘underclass’ I am indeed focusing on a certain type of poor person defined not by his condition – eg: long term unemployed – but by his deplorable behaviour in response to that condition – eg: unwilling to take jobs that are available to him.” Those long-term unemployed who fraudulently claim benefits while doing ‘black market’ jobs, the addict who deals… Read More