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Throughout this course, you will review the three major schools of thought (the

Throughout this course, you will review the three major schools of thought (the classical school, the positive school, and the Chicago school) and various perspectives on crime and criminality within society, as well as the major sociological theories that have emerged over the years. In this learning process, you will be challenged to apply these various theories and major concepts to real-world examples via various assignments and discussions on these sociological themes.
For this course project, you will reflect on social process theory, social structure theory, critical theory, and developmental theory. Consider the following questions:
Is criminal behavior a function of interaction between the individual, the group, and society?
Do economic and social forces, and where one lives within society, influence criminality?
Does inequality between social classes and innate social conditions result in crime?
Is crime a result of opportunity?
Select a large urban area in the United States that you are familiar with, reside within, or are interested in. Then focus on a specific social gang or group in this location and reflect on various sociological theories of crime causation from this course. Select from one of the following theoretical perspectives on crime causation and develop your white paper profile and analysis of a specific urban gang or group as follows (select only one):
Rational theory – “Because they want to.”
Rational theory holds the view that criminals make a rational choice to commit a crime. Are criminals rational decision makers? What is rational choice? What is free will? Define and explore these concepts.
The choice approach is rooted in the classical school (Beccaria and Bentham). What are the major ideas proposed by this school’s relative choice theory?
The effects of the environment and social structure impacts crime in certain ways. Discuss this phenomenon, emphasizing the major points and key theorists of rational theory.
Various factors such as economic need, opportunity, false expectations (society), personal traits, and experience condition persons or groups to commit crimes. In your neighborhood or community, analyze these factors relative to crime. In the end, are criminals rational and objective? Is crime rational?
Conflict theory – “It is a class thing.”
Critical theory holds the view that crime is a product of the capitalist system in society, related to inequality and social conditions and the struggle for power, control, and well-being. Conflict theory, feminist theory, and peacemaking criminology expand on these views. The major premise is that society is characterized by conflict rather than by consensus. Do you agree with this premise? Justify your response.
Conflict is a fact (way of life) in some communities. Is it so in the community (gang or group) you selected to review? Define the concept of social conflict in your urban setting and how it shapes behavior. Is conflict evident in your community? Explain.
Critical criminologists explain crime within the social and economic contexts and make the connection between social class, crime, and social control. Do you feel that crime is a function of the conflict that exists in society (your chosen community)? If the poor in your neighborhood commit crimes because of frustration, anger, or need, then what about some of those wealthy and well-to-do in the community? Why do they commit crime?
Some criminologists are of the view that conflict is inevitable in all cultures (societies). Explain why you agree or disagree. If you disagree, what can be done to reduce the level of conflict in your selected urban setting (gang or group)? Justify.
Social process theory – “Socialized in crime.”
Consider the view of some criminologists that certain elements of the social process are the keys to understanding criminal behavior. Define and explore this concept of socialization and the various influential processes, organizations, and institutions. Relate to the selected gang or group within your community. Are most people in your community influenced by these relationships, associations, experiences, and interactions? How so?
Select one of the following theories to further develop the influence of social process and crime in your selected environment: social learning theory, differential association theory, social control theory, or labeling theory. If criminal behavior is a function of these interactions between individuals and society, and criminality is the result of this interaction and socialization process, explore this overall premise relative to your selected community and above theory. Which theory best explains this phenomenon in your urban area, and why? Ensure you fully develop the major premises of the theory and key theorists as well.
Explain how a social process theorist would explain the fact that many children who commit crimes or delinquent acts at an early age desist from crime as they get older (age out). Likewise, how would these same theorists explain the fact that some children who commit such crimes at an early age continue to commit crimes as adults? How do we explain these behavioral changes—all within the same community? Reflect on your gang or group as you answer this question.
Look at the key ideas of social process theory, such as socialization, peer relations, family relations, differential association, self-concept, social bond, stigma, and techniques of neutralization. All these factors impact the crime equation. As you reflect on your selected community, which of these key ideas do you think most impacts criminality and answers the following questions?
What makes some people criminal?
Why many people obey rules and do not commit crimes?
Social structure theory – “Because they are poor.”
What is the concept of social structure theory and how does it relate to the socioeconomic structure of the urban area you selected? Why is this important?
Why are some residents in your selected community law-abiding citizens and others are not, if crime is the result of individual or group location within the structure of society?
How would you further develop the impact of social structure and crime in your selected environment using one of the following theories: anomie theory, strain theory, social disorganization theory, differential opportunity theory, or cultural deviance theory? Also, ensure you define and explore the major concepts of your selected theory: anomie, strain, cultural deviance, differential opportunity, or social disorganization.
Do you agree with the following in reflecting on your community? Poverty, despair, concentric zones, social ecology, conduct norms, transitional neighborhoods, cultural transmission—all such social forces influence crime and criminality. Community fear, unemployment, and neighborhood deterioration adds to this crime equation. Some criminologists feel the key to understanding the root cause of crime can be found in the socioeconomic makeup of the community, that social forces and not individual traits cause crime. Why or why not?
Process
Complete the following:
Select a gang or group within a large urban area or city.
Select one of following theories to explore the burdens of social class, poverty, racism, poor schools, and dysfunctional families, and the possible impact of these social forces on your selected group. Explain why you think the selected theory is the best choice for analyzing your selected group.
Rational theory.
Conflict theory.
Social process theory.
Social structure theory.
Assess how social problems and criminal behavior are related for your selected group.
Analyze the effects of anomie and strain theory on your selected group. How do these pressures present themselves in a group setting? What are their effects on individuals within the group?
Create a profile of a gang or a social group, building on your analysis of cultural and socioeconomic factors. Is crime a result of an individual’s membership in society or is crime a result of group interaction? Build your profile from social structure theory, social process theory, rational theory, or conflict theory.
Discuss, based on your profile, how your analysis an

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