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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

folk devils’

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

Boris and Trump: How do They get away with it?

Boris Johnson has learned very well from his hero, Donald Trump. If the populist right-wing leader of a ‘democratic’ country contradicts himself repeatedly, breaks his promises, has a scurrilous personal life, makes deeply offensive and totally insensitive remarks about anything and anybody, and even tells bare-faced lies, he can get away with it. That’s provided he’s got the right-wing press totally on his side; they attack and smear his opponents with unsubstantiated half-truths and even outright lies, and its journalists avoid taxing the leader and his close political allies with probing questions. Even when the leader’s opponents are succeeding in exposing the corruption of the leader and his cronies. It also helps a great deal, if you have organisations like Cambridge Analytica and lots of Russian bots manipulating social media on your behalf. Daniel Dale at CNN is just one analyst who has delved into what he terms Trump’s “bombardment of lies — Trump’s unceasing campaign to convince people of things that aren’t true.” He goes on to write:- “Trump made more than 2,700 false claims this year [2019]. (We’re still calculating the final total.) Some of them were innocent slips, some of them little exaggerations. But a large number of… 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

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

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

Muslims, take back Your Religion from the Psychopaths of UnIslamic State!

It’s time the world turned on ‘UnIslamic State’ (ISIS) and destroyed it. It’s time every Muslim who upholds the 5 Pillars of Islam not only said  “not in our name” and “not for our faith” but took action, directly or indirectly, to stop these psychopathic arseholes. Thursday on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, there was a debate about which was the more serious challenge: the Russian-backed insurgency in Eastern Ukraine and the effect that is having on relations between Russia and the West or UnIslamic State. (Much of the media still insist on referring to them as ‘Islamic State’ in spite of multiple requests from leading Islamic thinkers to use alternative terms such as ‘UnIslamic State’ which do not confer on them a sheen of validity.) Personally, for all that Eastern Ukraine looks like an era-defining crisis in West-Russia relations, I have no doubt that UnIslamic State is by far the greater threat. It’s not just the gut-wrenching video of a young man being burned alive…it’s not even the trail of beheadings, crucifixions, mass executions and other atrocities which came before it (and undoubtedly are still being carried out as I write)…it’s the potential for catastrophe that UnIslamic State seem determined to pursue. The self-styled ‘caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi doesn’t do… Read More

Email from a Muslim Student

It always delights me when ex-students and ex-tutees keep in touch after they have moved on to university (or wherever). One of those I’m most delighted by ongoing contact with is Yasmeen. She is bright, stunningly attractive and has a truly wicked sense of humour. She is also a Muslim of Pakistani heritage. Despite the fact we touched upon terrorism in our discussions for the World Sociology and Crime & Deviance topics, Yasmeen never let on to having any particularly strong political or religious views. Her father did, though. In an ‘Asian’ accent so strong I struggled to understand it at times, he described the Taliban as “very bad men”. He hated what they were doing to his country of birth. So I was intrigued by an email from Yasmeen the other day in which she wrote:- “Islam has a lot to offer in terms of spreading knowledge, living peacefully among others and just encouraging individuals to be good people and do the right thing. “I know things are really fragile now with Muslims, I’m sure you’re well aware of all that’s been happening in the news about Charlie Hebdo, the Sydney Siege, Peshawar Massacre (among other things) – it’s really… Read More

The Riots: who’s right – Cameron or Blair?

Today what appears to be the final battle to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya is rightly dominating the news – as it probably will for several days, as stories of valour, celebration, desperation and atrocity are told from the streets of Tripoli. There will also be much speculation about what kind of Libya will emerge from the civil war – even whether the rebels can hold off splintering into their own warring factions. And, inevitably, since the West invested so much in the NATO bombs that so potently aided the rebel victory, there will be speculation as to what the West can do to help build a new Libya that is friendly to the West and accepting of its interests in North Africa and the Middle East. In and amidst this focus on Libya, we also need continue the debate about what brought violent rioters and looters onto the streets of London and other cities just a fortnight back and what we should do about these issues. Both David Cameron and Tony Blair had key articles in this weekend’s Sunday newspapers, setting out their positions. Moral decline, moral panic and folk devils As you might expect for a piece in the Sunday… Read More