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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

self-fulfilling prophecy’

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

8 June: Time for a Change!

Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap general election on 8 June is being widely seen as an attempt to further weaken – if not outrightly dismantle – a crisis-ridden and ineffectual Labour opposition and to gain a much larger Tory majority in the House of Commons. It was also quite explicit in her 18 April speech announcing the election – see the newsfeed video clip below – that she wants that increased majority so she can eliminate any opposition in Parliament to pushing through her version of Brexit.   May named the House of Lords, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists as being the ‘enemy’. In a sense it was a little duplicitous for her to include Labour in quite the way she did. Jeremy Corbyn has been reported – eg: The Independent’s Rob Merrick – as saying Labour would vote against a final Brexit deal it didn’t approve of and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer – as reported by The Guardian’s Rowena Mason & Anushka Asthana – has proposed  that the UK could still participate in various EU structures and agencies post-Brexit. However, in general Corbyn has been broadly supportive of May’s Brexit tactics so far. He… Read More

‘Shirley’

September 2004 ‘Shirley’ was a middle manager who came to me for therapy because she was being made redundant and her sense of self-esteem was rather low. On the one hand she could see that her organisation was in turmoil. It was run by a Self-Referencing RED ‘king’ who recognised intellectually the need for the organisation to enter what Adizes calls ‘Adolescence’ but couldn’t bring himself to share control emotionally. The result was an aggressive, almost brutal personal management style, an organisation that lacked the structure to support its expansion, and staff either leaving or being pushed out. (Ichak Adizes (1987) typifies this state as ‘Pathological Go-Go’.) On the other hand, Shirley, who was one of those being pushed out, blamed herself for her redundancy. She told me she was under-confident with “people who matter” work-wise – eg: bosses – and did not project herself well. She had even “crumbled” under questioning at some recent presentations. Her fear of not living up to the RED king’s expectations turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy when she failed to meet certain targets. Despite the lack of management support and the turmoil the organisation was in, Shirley roundly blamed herself. “I’m not good enough!” was her summation of her experience with this organisation and she was worried that… Read More

Attribution Theory

Updated: 17 June 2016 According to Fritz Heider (1958), we produce attributions (beliefs about the causes of behaviour) based on two sources of information… Internal attributions – based on something within the individual whose behaviour is being observed – their natural character External attributions – based on something external to that individual – nothing to do with who they are specifically, it is the situation they are in Internal attributions are often referred to as dispositional attributions while external attributions are called situational attributions. Internal or External Locus of Control? In his development of Attribution Theory, Heider was concerned primarily with how we understand the behaviour of others. The mechanisms for how we attribute the behaviour of others have been explored with varying degrees of success in Correspondent Inference Theory, Covariation Theory and Causal Schemata. However, Julian B Rotter (1966) focused on how people attribute the reasons for their own behaviour. From his research, Rotter concluded that people tend to have either:- internal locus of control – ie: they decide what to do – the root of their behaviour is dispositional external locus of control – ie: their behaviour is shaped by external, situational factors – eg: expectations Rotter found that,… Read More

Good Boys gone bad…?

Updated: 29 October 2016 Some years ago I encountered ‘Johnny’ and his younger brother, ‘Harry’, at a school I taught at in a run-down town in East Yorkshire. Their behaviour tended towards the extreme – although I have come across worse in my time as a teacher! – but was not that far removed from the behaviour of many boys (and some girls!) in secondary schools in deprived areas. As I taught both boys and had Harry in my tutor group, I learned a fair amount about their backgrounds and factors which influenced their attitudes and behaviours. I developed this diagnostic case study and recommendations from those experiences. My experiences in schools since, my conversations with other educationalists and my readings in Sociology and Psychology leave me still convinced that schools and society in general fail this kind of child. The case study is updated with more of my understanding in Integrated SocioPsychology. ‘Johnny’ was an ‘interesting’ 11-year who came to the school I was teaching at to start Year 7. He was bright, enthusiastic, eager both to learn and to show off his knowledge – almost always the first to have his hand up to answer a question. He was often ahead… Read More

Biological Factors in Crime

Updated: 7 December 2016 Are criminals born or ‘made’? This is a question which has vexed philosophers for millennia and psychologists and sociologists since the dawn of the behavioural sciences early in the 19th Century. The deterministic view offered by biological explanations for criminality – ie: you have no real choice, it’s in your biological make-up – have major implications for how society treats criminals – especially violent ones.  Biological theories assert criminal behaviour has a physiological origin, with the implication that the ‘criminal’, therefore, has difficulty not committing crime because it is ‘natural’ –  ie: the ‘born criminal’ concept. Biological determinism can be used to undermine the legal concept of criminal responsibility: criminals are held to be personally and morally accountable for their actions. Only when the Law of Diminished Responsibility is applied in cases of self-defence and mental illness – and in some countries (eg: France) ‘crimes of passion’ (temporary insanity) – is the defendant assumed not to have acted from their own free will. 3 cases illustrate how biological arguments have been used as mitigating factors to reduce the level of criminal responsibility:- In 1994 Stephen Mobley was sentenced to death for shooting dead the manager of an American branch of Domino’s Pizza. He was also found… Read More