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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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SocioPsychological Factors in Crime #4

PART 4 Defining behaviour as crime Picking up from Sutherland’s 9th principle – also discussed earlier when exploring the work of Bonger and considered in Crime & Deviance – the Difference – who decides what is criminal and what is deviant is no simple matter. Nor are there absolute definitions as even Functionalists argue definitions can change over time and between cultures. In the Interactionist view laws are, to all intents and purposes, political products that reflect the power of some groups to impose on others their memes of right and wrong and normality. Thus, Anthony Giddens (1993, p128) writes: “The labels applied to create categories of deviance thus express the power structures of society.” This goes beyond the Marxist view that the social control is about Capitalists using the law to control the working classes.  Howard Becker’s (1963) application of Labelling Theory to crime and deviance posits that, rather than a fixed scenario of the Capitalists dictating values that reflect their interests in society and are enforced via the legal system, in fact politics is a competition between different groups to gain the power to impose their values on others. Routes to such power obviously include legislative institutions such as Parliament… Read More

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

Stress & Illness

Updated: 27 January 2020 Stress can make you ill! Stress can even kill you! Hans Selye (1936) was arguably the first theorist to carry out scientific research linking illness to chronic stress. Selye noted that the rats in his experiments and hospital patients showed a similar pattern which he termed the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) because it represented the body’s attempts to cope in an adaptive way with stress. GAS has 3 stages – see graphic below. Stage 1 involves increased activity in both the SAM and the HPA systems. In the case of elongated stress, the Alarm reaction occurs 6-48 hours after the trigger of fight or flight and includes loss of muscle tone, drop in body temperature and decreases in size of the spleen and the liver. Stage 2 involves the body adapting to the demands of the environment, with activity in the HPA. As this stage proceeds, the parasympathetic system requires more careful use of the body’s resources to cope. The system is being taxed to its limits, with an increase in the size of the adrenal glands and a decrease in certain pituitary activity such as the production of growth hormones. If the stress is not too… Read More

Money, Islamophobia and the Surge in Right-Wing Extremism

The mosque shootings in New Zealand on 15 March may represent a significant step up in anti- Muslim right-wing terrorism. At the time of writing, while there has been no further incident of major large-scale violence against Muslims, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and minor assaults, both verbal and physical, In the UK alone, in the week following the massacre in Christchurch, The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd reports: “…95 incidents were reported… between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March. Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims…. Verbal abuse directed at Muslims in London in separate incidents is alleged to have included shouts of ‘you need to be shot’, ‘you deserve it’ and ‘Muslims must die’. Incidents were reported in Scotland, where a mosque was attacked; in Stanwell, Surrey, where police declared the stabbing of a teenager to be a suspected far-right terror attack; and in Lancashire. Meanwhile in Birmingham, police continue to hunt for those behind sledgehammer attacks on five mosques.” After the Charlie Hedo shootings in 2015, Juan… Read More

So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?

Well,  obviously it remains to be seen just how much damage Brexit does to the UK – socially, economically and politically. But the initial consequences do not look at all good: Britain’s credit rating downgraded, the pound struggling to get much above the rock bottom it hit on Monday, up and down (but mostly down) stocks and shares (with markets right around the world affected), the banks and many big companies drawing up relocation plans (with consequent loss of jobs), a mooted 25% of companies declaring a freeze on hiring staff, a significant increase in incidents of racial and ethnic abuse, momentum building for a second Scottish independence referendum and Martin McGuinness calling for a referendum on whether the island of Ireland should be reunited. The ‘serious’ newspapers and internet news sites are full of dire predictions of far worse to come. As the so-called ‘Project Fear’ appears to be turning rapidly into reality, it would be foolish indeed to say blandly everything is going to be OK, as Boris Johnson was doing on Monday morning. The pound and the markets were stable he stated an hour or so before the pound hit a 31-year low. Everything is not OK. Not in the slightest. The UK faces an existential… Read More

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime #2

PART 2 Lower Class and Marxist Sub-Cultures Much research indicates there is a relationship between being in the lower classes and crime. Merton explores the relationship between poverty, consumerism and crime in Strain Theory. Daly & Wilson prefer to focus on the limited opportunities and limited life expectancy. Both locate their theories in lower class sub-cultures. Another lower-class sub-culture theorist is Albert Cohen (1955). Influenced both by Merton and the ethnographic ideas of the Chicago School of Sociology. he was especially interested in the fact that much offending behaviour was being simply done for the ‘thrill of the act’, rather than from economic motivations. (This is still evidenced today as, according to the Office of National Statistics (2020),  around a million offences of this type were committed in 2018-2019. Cohen does not share Merton’s emphasis on economic motivation and materialistic gain. Rather he sees deviance and crime as expressive.) According to Cohen, lower class boys strive to emulate middle class values and aspirations but lack the means to achieve success – leading to ‘status frustration’. Consequently these boys end up rejecting middle class values. Cohen (p119): “The delinquent sub-culture offers him status as against other children of whatever social level, but… Read More

What is Globalisation? #2

PART 2 New International Division of Labour The so-called ‘old international division of labour’ reflected the colonial and immediate post-colonial realities that the industrialised societies of the West produced manufactured goods while the rest of the world tended to produce one or 2 primary products per country. However, the Neo-Marxists Folker Fröbel, Jürgen Heinrichs & Otto Kreye (1980) state that, from the 1970s onwards, there have been substantial movements of industrial capital from the ‘advanced’ industrialised world to the developing world. This movement has been driven by rising labour costs and high levels of industrial conflict in the West which reduced the profitability of transnational corporations.  With globalisation, the tendency is for the Western industrial societies to export capital and expertise while poor countries provide cheap labour for manufacturing. According to Dawlabani, this destruction of homeland jobs in the West is justified by economists and financial  leaders via Joseph Schumpeter’s (1942) theory of Creative Destruction. In this paradigm, in a free market entrepreneurs will always introduce innovation which is disruptive to the current economic model but which improves productivity and, thus, economic growth. The cost to those impacted by the ‘destruction’ is not important. Thus, manufacturing is outsourced to low wage countries in… Read More

Leadership – a SocioPsychological Perspective

Updated: 26 May 2016 What makes a successful leader successful? is a question that appears to have vexed politicians and philosophers from the beginnings of civilisation. Certainly, the number of books and articles on leadership by ‘management gurus’ and social psychologists since the end of World War II indicates an ongoing fascination with the topic and, arguably, a vital need to understand the nature of leadership. Peter F Drucker, Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis, Howard Gardner, James MacGregor Burns, John William Gardner, John Kotter and Peter Senge are just a handful of the heavyweight names who have contributed high-profile books on the subject. One unequivocal key factor which has emerged from the multitude of investigations into ‘leadership’ is that leadership and management are not the same thing. Drucker (1967) was perhaps the first to say this, articulating: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Covey (p101, 1989) provides an illuminating example to illustrate this point: “…envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem-solvers. They’re cutting their way through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle… 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