Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


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

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

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

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime

Relaunched: 8 July 2020 While, clearly there a number of biological factors which can substantially increase the likelihood of someone committing crime and deviance, most crimes take place in a social setting and result from an interaction between the offender’s state of mind and the social pressures of the situation – including victims of the crime(s). So what are the social and psychological factors that may precipitate deviant and/or criminal actions…? Social Inequalities The world is plagued with huge gaps in social equality, with inequality having increased substantially in the West over the past 40 years. particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (2010) identified that happiness and well-being are generally much greater in countries where the gaps in the ranges of social equality are relatively small – eg: Sweden – compared to countries with large gaps such as the US. In Western societies the more consumerism there is, the more people are either ‘seduced’ or ‘repressed, to use Zygmunt Bauman’s (1988) concepts. The ‘seduced’ are those who are sucked into consumerism and are seduced into buying many things they don’t need but are persuaded will be life enhancing if acquired. In many ways,… Read More

Crime & Deviance – the Difference

12 June 2020 Crime can be defined as the form of deviance that involves an infraction of the criminal law and is subject to official punishment. Not all laws are criminal – civil law and constitutional law are 2 other key areas of the law. Not all illegal acts are necessarily deviant – eg: in the UK it is illegal to use your mobile phone (without it being handsfree) while driving but the sheer number of people who do so suggests that they do not see that behaviour as deviant. Sociologists have suggested 2 distinct definitions of deviance: normative and relativistic. Deviance: the Normative Definition This definition can be summed up as ‘the violation of social norms’. Thus, deviance is culturally determined. Deviance is often thought of in terms of deviation from accepted social standards – eg: certain kinds of sexual behaviour or drug use. However, people who are mentally ill are often treated as deviants. (See What is Mental Illness? ) Even harmless eccentrics may be considered deviant – or, according to Erich Goode (2008), people who have been heavily tattooed or pierced. In some cultures, deviation from a strict political and/or religious orthodoxy is considered deviant and may invoke penalties under… Read More

Symbolic Interactionism

Updated:  19 May 2017 Symbolic Interactionism is an Interactionist approach in Sociology – although it also has a strong influence in Social Psychology, particularly in the use of phenomenonology to exolore the unique experience of the individual. It contrasts with approaches like Marxism and Functionalism which seem to suggest that people are like puppets controlled by the relations of  production or the pattern variables,  Rather than people slotting into their respective slots in the structure of society, Interactionism sees ‘society’ as being created by people actively working at relationships and thus morphing and changing as the dynamics of those relationships morph and change. Symbolic Interactionism is about creating and responding to symbols and ideas (memes). It is this dynamic that forms the basis of Interactionists’ studies. Sociological areas that have been particularly influenced by Symbolic Interactionism include the sociology of emotions, the sociology of health and illness, deviance and crime, collective behaviour/social movements, and the sociology of sex. Interactionist concepts that have gained widespread usage include definition of the situation, emotion work, impression management, looking glass self and total institution. Symbolic Interactionism derived initially from the writings of George Herbert Mead (1934). He argued that people’s selves are social products –… Read More

Society & Community

These pages use the models and theories of the Integrated SocioPsychology approach and the behavioural sciences in general for analysing and understanding how we interact and function in societies and communities. They look at those social forces which influence our behaviour, taking into account cultural and cross-cultural factors. More immediately-topical observations can be found in the Blog. There are both miscellaneous features and sections on topics which I believe to be particularly relevant to the functioning of a society…such as education and crime & deviance. Critically important is the section on MeshWORKS – the concept developed by Don Beck which facilitates both a longitudinal and a cross-sectional view of related issues for all relevant parties. Those who support the Integrated approach and are interested in such matters are invited to submit pieces for publication here as ‘guest features’ or ‘guest reports’. Please get in touch with your ideas via the Contact page. Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism Feature exploring the concept that the rise of the Underclass is the inevitable waste product of unfettered Capitalism Islamification: Europe’s Challenge Feature exploring what Islamification might mean for Europe and how the changes it will bring might best be handled Social Change Pages on social change… Read More

Cameron & Clegg: where’s the vision?

2 months ago, in ‘Liberal Conservatives’: New Politics?, I wrote about my hopes that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition might indeed be the start of the ‘new politics’ Nick Clegg says he’s always believed in. I talked about the need for 2nd Tier thinking in Government to take us beyond repeating the same old mistakes, ideological conflicts and embezzlement of the public purse. A month on I’ve yet to see real signs of 2nd Tier thinking in anything the new Government does. Yes, as Henry Porter wrote in last Sunday’s Observer (11 July), they’ve made a good start. “…the coalition has moved with degrees of fair mindedness and deliberation that are refreshing. To be sure, there have been blunders, like Michael Gove’s botched announcement on scrapping new schools, but it surely is right to suggest that doctors be put in charge of spending GPs’ £80bn budget, to remove the target culture from the health service and provide 24-hour cover. The withdrawal from Sangin and setting a deadline for ending combat in Afghanistan is welcome, as is the review of defence needs and spending. For once, our relations with the world appear to be conducted by grown-ups without displays of fawning or self-importance…..In… Read More