In this post, we will examine the juvenile court process. This process is involved when young people commit crimes and they have to experience “the system” while legal experts try to work out what is best for those involved.
There are different ways to split up the process and explain it. However, for our purposes, we will divide the process into the following steps
Adujdication and diposition
Each of the above bullets are explained below.
When a youth is accused of committing a crime and is detained by police one of the first questions to answer is where to keep them. The answer to this question is the first step in the juvenile court process and is called detention.
Essentially there are two choices, the youth stays in a government facility, which is called custody, or they stay at home. Approximately 1/4 of delinquents stay in custody and the rest and sent home. The decision for detention is the equivalent of a bail decision for an adult.
The people in charge of determining the type of detention are the probation officer and or prosecutors and the decision is made at a detention hearing. If a child is detained it is the equivalent of being sent to jail. Initially, the child will probably be kept in a county-run facility and this will change when the legal process is complete.
Once in detention, there are two common types and these are secure and non-secure. A secure facility is again more akin to jail. A non-secure facility is similar to a group home. There are no locks and the youth could run away with ease if they desired. Where a child is placed depends on the severity of the crime they are accused of.
Once a child is placed in a facility state governments usually offer some sort of treatment while sorting out the legal process. Examples include behavior modification, working towards a GED, and or vocational training. Any or all of these may be available in addition to other forms of treatment not mentioned.
Once the detention decision is made the next step in the process is called the intake decision. At this stage, the probation officer and or prosecutors decide if they will file a petition, which is the equivalent of pressing charges. Whether a petition is filed or not depends on the amount of evidence and consideration of what is best for all parties involved.
If a crime is serious enough it can be transferred or waived to adult court. The criteria for sending a youth to adult court varies from state to state but most if not all states have a process for doing this. Normally, only serious crimes are moved to adult court such as murder.
A child may not face a petition if the probation officer and or prosecutors choose a different route to complete the legal process. Another way to complete this process is called an informal adjustment. An informal adjustment is dealing with the accusations against the youth without a petition. For example, if a kid is caught making graffiti an informal adjustment may be that the child agrees to pay for the damages and repaint the wall.
Adjudication & Disposition
Once the court proceedings are complete the petition is found to be true or not true, which is the equivalent of guilty or not guilty. When the petition is found to be true another term for this is adjudicated.
Once adjudicated the youth then faces a disposition, which is the equivalent of sentencing. At this step of the process, the youth receives their “punishment.” The child could be committed to a state-run facility which is essentially prison, they could be placed on probation or a host of other options.
An interesting note, Plea bargains are also common among juveniles accused of crimes but jury trials are not. The reason for this is philosophical as many believe that juvenile court should be different from adult court due to the accused individual’s age.
The juvenile court process is unique. Hopefully, a young person never has to be involved in this system. However, for those who do make mistakes, this system is in place to try and help those involved.
Students and delinquents have many things in common. One thing they have in common is making poor decisions. This post will examine some theories of how youth and delinquents make choices. In particular, we will look at two theories found in the field of criminology and apply them to the classroom these theories are
A theory on explaining poor decision-making is explained from the routine activities perspective. This theory states that it is normal behavior that contrivutes to criminal behavior for delinquents and perhaps bad behavior in the classroom.
According to this theory, several criteria help to predict a youth’s actions and they are.
The quality of the target- An easier target is more inviting than a difficult one
Level of motivation-If a youth is looking for trouble they can generally find it
Lack of supervision-If there are no authority figures nearby making a poor choice is easier.
In the classroom, these dynamics interact frequently. Disruptive students will look for other students who are easy to sway to join them and or are easy to pick on which is an example of quality. In terms of motivation, most teachers would agree a child can find a way to get into trouble if this is what they desire. Lastly, supervision is one of the main components of difficult behavior in the classroom. Some kids are impulsive and the level of supervision makes no difference. However, many kids will wait for when they believe they can get away with what they want to do.
The natural extension of routine activities perspective in terms of preventing poor behavior is to neutralize the three criteria listed above. For example, if a disruptive student cannot find quality targets it may help to eliminate poor behavior. One way teachers do this is by moving a difficult student to another part of the classroom or outside the class. When targets are gone behavior should hopefully be appropriate.
Motivation is the second criterion and this can be neutralized through appropriate disci[pline. For example, a behavioral approach would provide the appropriate reinforcement and punishment that will modify the behavior and or the motivation. When there is no longer a desire to act inappropriately because the stimulus is negative the poor actions of the youth may cease.
The last criterion was supervision. It is difficult to always have eyes on students. However, it is often more beneficial for students to think that the teacher is watching them at all times. The technical term for this is withitness which is an awareness of what is happening in the classroom at all times. Developing this ability takes experience but a teacher can never get into the “zone” when teaching because the students will notice the absentmindedness and move to make poor choices.
Rational Choice Theory
Rational choice theory is another view on decision-making. In this theory, delinquents decide to commit crimes based on opportunity and reward vs cost. These two criteria sound similar to the routine activities approach. However, rational choice theory takes into account that delinquents do not always plan their behavior carefully and that sometimes they are spontaneous in what they do. In other words, to assume completely random behavior and totally well-thought-out behavior from youth is unreasonable. Rather youths actions are somewhere between the two extremes of impulsiveness and calculation
In the classroom, this has played out before. Disruptive students look for opportunities and may consider the risk-reward factor. However, just as rational choice states students will not consider all the consequences of their actions.
What these two theories have in common is opportunity. Movement is one way opportunity arises. For example, if the teacher moves to the other side of the room it will provide an opportunity for a student to cause problems. The same if a victim walks into the wrong part of town. As people move around it provides and removes opportunities for criminal behavior or poor behavior in the classroom.
Off course, no single theory or several theories can explain everything about a phenomenon. The same idea applies in this context of trying to understand why youth and delinquents make poor choices.
This post will look at a theory on development that is not often covered in teacher preparation courses. The theory we will look at is called Interpersonal Maturity levels and was developed in 1957 by Sullivan, Grant, and Grant in 1957. This continuum of maturity was developed primarily to explain delinquency. We will look at this theory within the context of delinquency and extend its use to the classroom.
Defining Interpersonal MAturity LEvels
Level 1-A persons can discriminate between themselves and someone else
Level 2-A person separates between persons and objects
Level 3-Begin to learn rules and move within an environment
Level 4-Begin to see things from another person’s perspective
Level 5-Begins to notice patterns in behavior and roles in a society
Level 6-Learn the difference between who they are and the function(s) they play
Level 7-Learns and implements various methods for dealing with the world
Levels 1-3 are often related to babies and small children and don’t apply to delinquents. Delinquents are often found to be somewhere between levels 2 through 4. Level 4 is especially telling because it indicates a lack of empathy for others. Another important point is that youths who commit crimes are unsurprisingly not fully developed regarding their understanding of interpersonal relationships. They do not see how their actions are detrimental to other people.
Teachers may encounter these various levels of interpersonal maturity as well. Students who only care about themselves and their own pleasure are probably at lower levels of interpersonal maturity. Students struggling with their various societal roles and overcoming these challenges are probably at a higher level. Teachers need to be able to support students at different levels of interpersonal maturity to the benefit of the student and other students in the classroom.
Lower-level students will need to develop an awareness of the perspective of others. This could be achieved by asking them questions about how others perceive their actions. In addition, asking them reflective questions about their impulsive actions could help them become more mindful of the people around them.
Students who are more mature in terms of interpersonal relations need more help finding practical answer’s to life’s problems. Perhaps for them, modeling could be a good tool. Given that teachers are usually older and have more experience than their students, the teacher can offer life advice and share with the students how they faced similar life challenges at their age.
No theory explains everything about a phenomenon. INterpersonal maturity plays a role in delinquent behavior. The ideas presented here help people to understand why young people choose to disobey. Since teachers deal with delinquent young people, it is possible that this theory’s ideas can help them understand we kids disobey in the classroom.
A history of the development of various juvenile justice facilities will be conducted in this post. Understanding the development of how leaders have addressed crime by young people will help current practitioners and educators to learn the lessons of the past.
For most of human history, children were held to the same standard of behavior as adults. This was especially true if a child survived infancy and reached age 5 or 6. The reasons are severalfold. For example, there was a great deal of infanticide in some cultures in the past because of the burden of child-rearing. Abandonment was another strategy parents used to get rid of children. Parents would leave their baby at a hospital or church. At this time, killing a baby was acceptable.
Once a child reached the age of 5 or 6 and began to lose their baby teeth, they would be viewed as little adults. Children from lower-class families would enter trades as apprentices. As they grew, sometimes children made mistakes with the law. If this happened, children had no special consideration and were held to the same laws and punishments as adults. The idea of childhood emerged in the 16th or 17th century.
Institutions for Juveniles
With the rise in the view that adults and children are different came the idea that youths need to be dealt with separately from the adult population of criminals. For example, London developed the Bridewell Institution in 1555 to address children beggers. At this institution, students were trained in developing skills they could use once released. The motivation was that youths needed a change in their environment to change their behavior.
The next major step in developing institutions for juveniles was houses of refuge. These were established in the United States in the 1820s. The goal was to pull kids out of a negative crime environment into a positive environment for them. Kids were given apprenticeships as a way to develop job skills.
Despite the attempts of the houses, there were problems. Kids were abused in their apprenticeships. There was constant overcrowding. Lastly, these institutions developed spaces to keep adult and juvenile offenders. Mixing populations is generally frowned upon.
In response to the problems at Bridewell, Massachusetts opened the Lyman School for Boys around 1848. The main innovation of this group was the abolishment of mixing adults and children in the same population. The motivation behind this was again to avoid mixing the populations.
By the mid-1800s, new ideas began to emerge. One example is the cottage. The idea was to place juveniles with surrogate parents in the countryside. This experience was meant to copy the traditional family life with the same ideas of love ad discipline. With time these cottages became overcrowded as the delinquent population grew.
Around the same time (1840’s), probation developed. Probation served as a way to collect information on youth and to provide alternative ways to help youths. Originally, probation was developed for adults but was adopted by juvenile justice to help young people.
One lesson that can be gleaned from this article is that the problems continue to be the same. Crime, overcrowding, and supporting youths are all problems one finds today. Therefore, looking at the past will often reveal today’s problems.
The juvenile justice system has its origins dating back to the early 20th century in the US. There are several differences between how states deal with juveniles who commit crimes and adults who commit crimes. We will explore some of the reasons for these differences below and look at the major structures of the juvenile justice system. There are times in which teachers may have to deal with students who have had experiences with law enforcement. Therefore, educators need to be familiar.
A major difference between adults and juveniles is brain development. The mind of a teenager is still under construction, and this process may last into their late twenties. With the lack of reasoning skills and experience combined with a fully functional body, young people can sometimes make poor choices.
A major concern of law enforcement agencies focusing on youth is that young people do not get stuck in the system. For this reason, extra is taken to ensure a poor decision at 15 does not become a curse for the offender’s life.
One advantage to the lack of being fully developed mentally for youth offenders is that it is still easier to turn their lives around. A hardened criminal in his 30s is likelier to stay that way than a 15-year-old kid who did something stupid on a dare. Given their youth, it is easier to guide them in the right direction if proper intervention is taken.
Therefore, a young person’s lack of experience and maturity can be a blessing and a curse. In terms of pros, if a juvenile makes a mistake, it is easier to get their life back on track. However, in terms of cons, the lack of experience means they may not think things through before making a poor life-altering choice.
If a child is accused of a crime, they must be provided with the following information
The charges against them
Fifth amendment rights
Right to a lawyer (for free if necessary)
Right to confront witnesses
All of the above are similar to the rights of adults. In addition, juveniles cannot be tried twice for the same crime.
The language used in the juvenile system is slightly different from the adult system. Below are some examples.
The word “guilty” or “convicted” is not used; instead, the word “responsible” is
There are no “indictments”; rather, the word “petition” is used
Juveniles do not plead guilty or not guilty instead, they admit or deny the petition
The phrase “found guilty” is not used; instead, the phrase “petition found true” is
There are no “trials”; instead, they are called “adjudication.”
Juveniles are not “sentenced”; instead, there is a “disposition.”
These terms are used to reduce the risk of the youth being labeled as a criminal. For teachers, these terms are somewhat confusing but it is important to understand them in order to communicate with law enforcement agents.
When a youth is arrested, they are taken to a detention center (jail) for youth offenders. It varies from state to state, but generally, there must be a hearing to determine if the youth needs to stay in the detention center or can go home within 48 hours of their arrival. During this time, the youth will have various forms completed and work with an intake officer who can make recommendations to the judge about what to do with the child. Often, suppose the offense is not serious, and the child is not a repeat offender. In that case, they will be released to their parents until the prosecutor decides whether to file a petition.
If the offense was small, a petition is never filed, which is an example of an informal way of handling the situation. The intake officer or a counselor will deal with the infraction through other means such as community service. Another option is a diversion program. Diversion programs are services offered to the child in place of going to a youth facility (juvenile prison). The goal is always to keep kids out of the system as much as possible. In all of these examples, the youth must admit the wrong they committed to avoid a formal petition.
If a petition is filed formally, the process is similar to an adult trial. If the youth is found responsible, there must be a disposition to determine the punishment. The youth could be placed in the youth facility, moved to foster care, or face various forms of psychological testing to determine what mental health interventions are needed. Lastly, probation is also offered in which a juvenile is supervised by a probation officer for a set period of time. If the juvenile breaks any probation expectations, they could face a warrant for their arrest.
If the offense a child commits is serious enough, they can be tried as an adult. Examples include murder, rape, kidnapping, and other serious offenses. Often multiple crimes are committed at once, pushing the offense into adult court. For example, a male commits kidnapping and rape against the same person. Generally, the minimum age for trying someone as an adult is 14.
When young people make mistakes, teachers need to be able to support them by making adjustments to the academic expectations when possible. Students on probation or facing a judge have much larger problems than they are facing in comparison to learning algebra or writing an essay. In addition, the teachers may need to work with the probation officers to provide evidence the youth is meeting the judge’s expectations.
Some views on dealing with crime are sometimes considered fringe by people. Two examples of this are left realism and peacemaking theory. In this post, we will take a look at each of these approaches to criminology.
Left realists disagree with how people who are more conservative than them on crime issues address and handle crime. Specific examples of what left realists disagree with are longer prison sentences for offenders and reducing social programs. In addition, left realists also disagree with people on the same side of the political spectrum in terms of seeing the problems in a Marxist’s critical criminology worldview.
Left realists agree that criminals should be held accountable for their actions. However, it is also important to recognize the oppression of society as found in the current government structure and economic forces. Furthermore, legal realists are concerned for the poor because they often live in high-crime neighborhoods and are thus more commonly found victims.
Left realists are pragmatists who do not see law enforcement as oppressors but still want to adhere to some of the ideas of social justice. For example, a left realist would encourage civilian oversight of the police. This includes the community in the workings of law enforcement without removing the presence of law enforcement in the community.
Peacemaking theory is based on the ideas of love and compassion as found in many different religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. Proponents of this theory believe that love and forgiveness are tools for overcoming crime in society.
For example, to lock someone behind bars for committing a crime, the system makes the same mistake as the prisoner. Instead of justice, society should try connecting with communities and working towards restoration. Violence causes violence is a core tenet of peacemaking theory.
Defining the police is an idea that is based on peacemaking theory. The idea is that since the police practice violence, it is actually causing violence. Therefore, if the police are defunded or eliminated, it will lead to a decline in criminal behavior, and everyone will be safe. That is also why such ideas as having unarmed community peace officers was encouraged as a form of reform because officers with guns cannot commit the same level of violent acts as armed officers.
One of the most common criticisms of peacemaking theory is that it is idealistic and naive. Generally, it takes a two-way relationship to encourage love. The problem is that criminals are often not loving and compassionate. The evidence for this is due to how they rob, steal, and kill their fellow man. Police officers seem to show much more compassion and love when they defend the powerless against criminal behavior.
Non-violent behavior is an excellent strategy in non-violent situations. However, suppose a criminal is a threat to society. In that case, the threat should more than likely be neutralized, if necessary, by violent means to show compassion and care to the innocent people who may suffer from the criminal’s behavior.
The ideas found here may be considered unusual, but this does not imply that they cannot be useful. What determines what is appropriate is the context and situation a person faces. There are times when compassion may reach a criminal, and there are also times when force is most appropriate. The real goal is to have options in the table so the system can choose what is best for that particular situation. No single-size approach or theory will work in every single situation because people are different.
Critical criminology, is an umbrella term for theories related to crime that challenge traditional power structures. Without making sweeping generalizations, whenever the word critical is involved in discussing belief systems it normally implies a examining and attempt to breakdown societal structures.
Critical criminonolgy, as with almost all critical studies, is rooted in the writings of Karl Marx. Marx challenged that the working class should over through the owners of production. This idea of challenging the system has been expanded in many different directions such as Queer studies (challenging power structures concerning sexuality), critical race studies (challenging power structures concerning race), critical pedagogy (challenging to power structures within education), fat studies (challenging power structures concerning obesity), to even radical femnism (challenging power structures in relation to the role of women in society). What all these different critical studies have in common is that the haves use their power to control society around
Critical criminonlgy focuses on the power structure between the haves and haves not in relation to the justice system. For example, labeling theory suggest that people in power decide what is considered acceptable behavior in order to control others. An example that took place before labeling theory was developed but provides a strong illustration is prohibition. With one stroke of the pen, the government was able to suddenly make millions of criminals overnight. Bootleggers were deemed troubemakers and some faced consequences if caught.
When people are labeled criminals it can make them a criminal in a form of self-fulfiling prophecy. ONce labeled, a person may begin to commit more crimes because of there label and thus are rejecting the society that has labeled them a criminal. This is one reason why at the juvenile level the terms used for dealing with young people are different in the legal and there is often an effort to seal recorded so that the youth does not pick up a label that could be detrimental to their adult life
As fascinating as labeling theory is it is not without its critics. Critical theories in general have a cosnipritoral air to them. In other words, almost anybody who is a part of the system in a successful manner is looking to hold down and destroy minorities. THis is an oversimplification at the least. In all societies you will find people in privilege position who help and also harm minorities. IN addition, many of the laws on the books are laws that society agrees with such as laws against murder, rape, robbery, etc. Although a disproportionate group of people are arrested for these crimes it does not suggest that these laws were developed to arrest one race or class of people.
Critical Feminist THeory
Critical eminest theory holds the view that men oppress women and that men abuse their power to hold women down. From a crime perspective, women are frequently the victims of crime at the hands of men because of patriarchal norms in society. ONce women have equal access to jobs and education there will be a decline in violent crimes against women.
Some proponents of critical feminst theory also claim that the patriarchal system has held women back from committing crimes. The claim is that because women were trapped in the home with family they lacked the opportunity to comitt crime. In addition, men and women are socialized differently as children. Men are trained to be aggressive and domineering while women are often taught to be submissive. THis in part according to critical feminest are some fo the reasons why men commit why more crimes than women.
Whether this is reasonable or not there is evidence that as society achieves the equality that critical feminst desire there has been a corresponding rise in the crime rate of women. It is difficult to say if this is something that should be celebrated.
Critical studies is looking to explain the oppression found in sooeity through examining the difference in power that is found between group. In general, oppression is primarily caused by differences in power. Despite the fact that there has always been found differences in power in most societies throughout human history critical studies holds fast to this idea as the main cause of suffering in the world today. Within critical criminology the focus is placed upon the difference in power in relation to law and justice.
Critical criminology is an umbrella term for theories related to crime that challenge traditional power structures. Without making sweeping generalizations, whenever the word critical is involved in discussing belief systems, it normally implies an examination and attempts to break down societal structures.
Critical criminology, as with almost all critical studies, is rooted in the writings of Karl Marx. Marx challenged that the working class should overthrow the owners of production. This idea of challenging the system has been expanded in many different directions, such as Queer studies (challenging power structures concerning sexuality), critical race studies (challenging power structures concerning race), critical pedagogy (challenging power structures within education), fat studies (challenging power structures concerning obesity), to even radical feminism (challenging power structures concerning the role of women in society). All these different critical studies have in common that the haves use their power to control society.
Critical criminology focuses on the power structure between the haves and haves, not concerning the justice system. For example, labeling theory suggests that people in power decide what is considered acceptable behavior to control others. An example that took place before labeling theory was developed but provided a strong illustration is prohibition. With one stroke of the pen, the government suddenly made millions of criminals overnight. Bootleggers were deemed troublemakers, and some faced the consequences if caught.
When people are labeled criminals, it can make them a criminal in the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once labeled, a person may begin to commit more crimes because of their label and thus are rejecting the society that has labeled them a criminal. This is one reason why at the juvenile level, the terms used for dealing with young people are different from the legal, and there is often an effort to seal recorded so that the youth does not pick up a label that could be detrimental to their adult life.
As fascinating as labeling theory is, it is not without its critics. Critical theories, in general, have a conspiratorial air to them. In other words, almost anybody who successfully participates in the system is looking to hold down and destroy minorities. This is an oversimplification, at the least. In all societies, you will find people in privileged positions who help and also harm minorities. In addition, many of the laws on the books are ones that society agrees with, such as laws against murder, rape, robbery, etc. Although a disproportionate group of people is arrested for these crimes, it does not suggest that these laws were developed to arrest one race or class of people.
Critical Feminist THeory
Critical feminist theory holds the view that men oppress women and that men abuse their power to hold women down. From a crime perspective, women are frequently the victims of crime at the hands of men because of patriarchal norms in society. Once women have equal access to jobs and education, there will be a decline in violent crimes against women.
Some proponents of critical feminist theory also claim that the patriarchal system has held women back from committing crimes. The claim is that because women were trapped in the home with family, they lacked the opportunity to commit crime. In addition, men and women are socialized differently as children. Men are trained to be aggressive and domineering, while women are often taught to be submissive. This, in part, according to critical feminists, are some of the reasons why men commit why more crimes than women.
Whether this is reasonable or not, there is evidence that as society achieves the equality that critical feminists desire, there has been a corresponding rise in the crime rate of women. It is difficult to say if this is something that should be celebrated.
Critical studies look to explain the oppression found in society by examining the difference in power between groups. In general, oppression is primarily caused by differences in power. Even though there have always been differences in power in most societies throughout human history, critical studies hold fast to this idea as the main cause of suffering in the world today. Within critical criminology, the focus is placed on the difference in power concerning law and justice.
This post will look at various social theories that try to explain criminal behavior. In addition, when possible, we will tie these theories to the classroom context.
Differential Association Theory
Differential association theory states that children learn their values from close family and friends. Of course, this can be good or bad. If the family are law-abiding, productive members of society, the child may absorb these traits. However, if the child comes from a home of drugs and violence, they may absorb these norms of disruption.
Whether the behaviors the child absorbs are positive or negative, the child will make excuses or justifications for their adopted behaviors. For example, a drug-dealing child may justify their behavior because they are trying to make a little money, and it is not a big deal if people do drugs a little here and there. The straight-A student will justify their behavior by stating they have a chance at going to a good college and finding a good-paying job. IN other words, rationalization can be used to justify positive and negative behaviors.
Developed in the 1950s, neutralization theory states that criminals go back and forth between criminal behavior and obeying the law. For example, a drug dealer may legally choose to buy food from the grocery store. IN other words, even though this person has no respect for law and order, he may choose to buy groceries legally. It may appear contradictory that a criminal would buy groceries legally when they are a drug dealer, but the catch is that neutralization theory states that crooks mistakenly believe they are normal members of society.
The neutralizing of this theory happens when the perpetrators of crime deny their criminal behavior in one of five ways.
Denies the Victim
condemns people of power
Appeals to a higher authority
Many of the bullets above are self-explanatory. Denying responsibility is claiming that whatever happened was an accident. For example, someone steals some money and says it wasn’t their fault. Denying harm is excusing criminal behavior because of a false perception it doesn’t hurt. For example, saying stealing a little bit is okay if it’s not too much. Denying the victim is rationalizing that the victim deserved what happened to them.
Condemning people of power is seeing all people of authority as corrupt. This neutralization technique has been popular in the media and protesting as of late to justify destructive behavior and emotional outbursts. Lastly, appealing to a higher authority is the claim that a person makes that they committed a crime for some greater good. For example, a man is stealing money from a company to help his family.
These are all excuses that students generally make when they break the rules and or classroom policies. They will deny responsibility, deny harm, deny the victim, attack the teacher, and blame friends.
Containment theory states that external and internal pressures can lead a person towards crime or breaking the rules and containments that pressure an individual to not go in that direction. External pressures can include such things as friends and media, which have a negative influence on the individual. Internal pressures are often personality traits that are considered negative such as a lack of self-esteem.
Containments restrain negative behaviors and can be external or internal. External containment is essentially the opposite of external pressures and can include good friends, strong family, and positive media choices. Internal containments are also personality traits and can include strong self-esteem rather than weak.
Again the ideas of containment theory seem to mirror what happens in the classroom. Children with many negative external pressures and few containments will generally cause more disruption. Naturally, it is not this simple in the real world, but this theory provides a platform for trying to explain poor behavior.
Social Bond Theory
Social bonds are relationships that restrain someone from criminal behavior. This theory is similar to the containment theory, but nevertheless, it has four components
People attached to a family, friends, and or institution, such as the church, have positive roles in their life that make it harder to commit crimes. Commitment is how invested a person is in society. People with something to lose will generally be less likely to commit crimes. For example, people who have good jobs and families will often commit fewer crimes than single unemployed ma. The difference is not just financial but the fact that the person with a good job has more to lose from criminal behavior.
Involvement is time spent in community development. Community involvement develops relationships, and these social relationships restrain criminal behavior. Lastly, beliefs are associated with attitude. Each of these components aligns well with students and their tendency to break the rules in the classroom.
Why people break laws and or rules will never be fully explained. People will always find ways to do what they want. The ideas presented here are just another way to explain unacceptable behavior. For the teacher, these theories can provide insights into students’ motivations for obeying the rules.
In this post, we will look at theories that attempt to explain the role of society in motivation for committing crime. These theories are some of the older foundational theories commonly found in an introductory text to the subject.
Social Disorganization Theory
Social disorganization theory was developed within the Chicago School of criminology in the 1920s. The major contributors were Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay. The main contribution of this theory was identifying the relationship between crime and the neighborhood. More crime will occur in neighborhoods with abandoned buildings, lousy schools, and high unemployment.
When schools are poor and buildings are abandoned, the families with the means will leave. The danger of families leaving the neighborhood is that it weakens social ties within the community, which can limit crime. In other words, when there is a physical decline in the neighborhood, there is a corresponding social decline in the neighborhood.
Social disorganization theory is still influential in policy-making today. For example, gentrification is an attempt to revive rundown neighborhoods. Although this practice is highly controversial, it is an attempt to organize an area considered disorganized by some.
Robert Merton developed Anomie theory in 1938. This theory states that there is a difference between what a person wants and what they can achieve. This difference is anomie or a strain on the person. When people fail to achieve what they want by proper means, they will turn to crime to achieve these things instead.
The dilemma, according to Merton, is that society imposes an expectation of material wealth on people. To compound this problem, only certain maneuvers are approved for an individual to make money. For example, we have all heard the story of going to college, getting a good job, working hard for 35 years, and retiring. For some people, this route does not work, and thus they look for shortcuts to achieve what they want.
Examining the life of many criminals proves Merton’s theory. The person who grows up poor has few opportunities to get ahead the traditional way and thus turns to crime. Obviously, the person wasn’t stupid because building a drug cartel is not easy. However, Merton’s theory breaks down when one realizes that despite crime being higher among the poor, the typical poor person does not commit crimes. Therefore, like most theories, Merton’s theory does not explain all criminal behavior.
Anomie theory can also be applied to social classes beyond the poor. For example, many white-collar crimes are committed by people already considered successful financially. The problems these people thought they had was that they needed even more money for an even more lavish lifestyle or perhaps for the challenge of acquiring wealth.
Sometimes strains can be external. For example, parents lose their jobs, pushing them and their children into crime. Drugs and alcohol can also introduce strains into a situation, pushing people into making poor choices. Another application of anomie theory is the role of certain social institutions. For example, religious practice has been found to help people to focus on other things besides wealth. If the local church has lost its influence, it may no longer serve as a conduit to encourage people to think beyond money.
Crime has and will always be a problem. THeories will try to explain crime, but no single theory can explain every motivation for crime. What this means is that there is no single answer for preventing crime. Therefore, a multitude of theories with a multitude of solutions may be a necessary approach to addressing this issue
In this post, we will look at on theory used in criminal justice to explain criminal behavior. However, we will also see how this theory applies in the classroom context. However, first, we will look at ta foundational theory related to this topic called Classical Theory.
The ideas of classical theory were formed in part by Cesare Beccaria in his 1764 essay On Crimes and Punishments. In this essay, Beccaria makes several arguments against how criminal justice took place in the 18th century. At that time, a judgment could be arbitrary, was not done fairly by class, and had harsh punishments for various minor crimes.
This criticism supported banning torture, clearly delineating laws, and educating the public about those laws. The additional influence of this movement is the development of the US Constitution’s 8th amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishment. To make this as simple as possible classical theory calls for punishments that fit the crime. How this applies varies, but it is a core principle. In addition, this idea has been discussed in classroom management. Teachers have to ensure that students’ discipline is not excessive or too weak.
Rational Choice Theory
Rational theory posits that criminals think about their actions and weigh the pros and cons of their decisions. This does not suggest that the criminal makes the best decision, but it does imply a thought process and thus allows for people should be held responsible for the results of this process.
Like any other theory, rational choice explains criminal behavior sometimes. Some criminals think things through before committing a crime, while others have no plan or thought behind their actions. This is true, especially in situations involving drugs and alcohol and domestic disputes, which are often dangerous. In addition, we have all had to weigh whether doing something questionable is okay. Another name for this experience is called temptation.
In the classroom, students always make choices involving a thought process and/or their emotions. Often for kids, the question is whether o, not they can get away with the behavior. Students will often play games of probability, rolling the dice to see if they can get away with breaking the rules. However, due to their inexperience, they often miscalculate or, in some cases, they really don’t care what will happen if they are wrong.
CrimeDetterantsand Rational Choice
For people in the criminal justice field and teachers in the classroom, supporters of rational choice theory believe that harsh punishments deter crime or poor behavior. Both teachers and criminal justice professionals can rely on the disappointment of family and friends and a general sense of right and wrong when they appeal to students committing crimes. Such arguments are examples that come from a position of rational choice.
Another application of rational choice theory is harsh punishments. The thinking goes that if the punishment is cruel enough, thinking people will choose to not break the law or violate the rule in the case of the students. However, people still commit horrific crimes despite being fully aware of the consequences. This idea does not always work, but it sometimes does.
People will make bad choices throughout their life the question why? Classical theory and rational choice theory show humans as thinking, rational animals. This is not incorrect but is also not the full answer. Therefore, it’s important to continue exploring this phenomenon to benefit those affected by crime or poor student behavior.
Studies of the demographics of convicted criminals have led to several insights into traits that put a person at a higher risk of committing crimes. IN this post, we will look at various demographic traits that put a young person at risk of committing crimes.
Young adults ages 18-21 are leaders statistically in acts of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Since people have a tendency to commit crimes against peers, teenagers and Young adults are victims of crimes at a disproportionate rate. People ages 12-24 make up 22% of the population yet commit 35% of the murders and 49% of all victims of serious violent crimes. In other words, not only are young people generally more dangerous, but they are also at a higher risk of suffering from a violent crime.
There has been speculation as to why young people are more prone to criminal behavior. Among some of the ideas are the lack of experience and the inability to weigh the consequences of poor choices. In addition, young people often have the freedom of adulthood without the corresponding responsibilities such as career and family. Lastly, given their inexperience, young adults are still determining their own limits and the limits of the society in which they live.
The reason for this difference is not clear. Traditionally, men have been more physically aggressive and less risk-averse than women. In addition, there are known hormonal differences between men and women as well when examining things such as testosterone and estrogen. For students, this implies that a young person is likelier to be without a father than a mother. This can have consequences regarding behavior and a general need for attention.
An individual’s economic situation is yet another factor in criminal behavior. About 76% of men and 85% of women in prison made less than $38000 per year before being sent to prison. Anything below $32000 is considered poor. Keep in mind that it is difficult to track the income of criminals and that the cutoff is being pulled to the right by the occasional drug kingpin and white-collar crook.
The poor are also victims of crime at a higher rate, with about 63% of violent crimes being perpetrated against poor and low-income people. A tanking economy and job loss can sometimes motivate undesirable behavior that could also have legal ramifications for people. This is important because adult criminals often have children who go through the school system without parental support.
Race is another controversial factor in terms of criminal behavior. Among juveniles, blacks comprise 34% of all arrests. Half of all violent crimes are committed by blacks, even though blacks make up about 12% of the population.
Many contests such numbers and blame such behavior as racial profiling by the police. However, explaining any behavior or number with one factor is never simple or easy. AS such, it is not completely clear why there is such a disparity in criminal behavior based on race. Relating this to students may imply that students of color may need more assistance from teachers as they are more likely to have committed or know somebody who has committed a crime.
For students, opening their eyes to the benefits of education can keep them off the streets. In addition, some young people may be at a higher risk if they come from a home that does not value education.
Lastly, religion plays a role in preventing crime. Adolescents who attend a religious service weekly have lower rates of shoplifting, assault, and theft when compared to students who never attend a religious service. With religious activity comes a decrease in criminal activity.
One theory behind this is the hellfire hypothesis which implies that people avoid various criminal activities for fear of angering whatever higher power they follow. IT should also be noted that many religions discourage criminal behavior while encouraging respect for local authorities.
The traits shared here are not self-fulfilling prophecies. Young people do not have to commit crimes, nor do men or people who did not attend college. On the other hand, being older, female, or religious does not mean that a person is not capable of breaking the law. Trends found in data are different from individual choice.
Property crimes are a common form of delinquency among young people. Theft, in general, leads to over 80,000 arrests each year. Theft can cover many crimes such as car stealing or taking items from another person’s home. In this post, we will examine some common ways young people are involved in property crimes.
Shoplifting is a common crime among youth but not as common as one would think. Approximately 25% of all shoplifters are juveniles, meaning most shoplifters are not children. However, about 47% of high school students have admitted to shoplifting something within the past year. This implies that juveniles are not caught at the same rate at which they steal and that juveniles are better at getting away with shoplifting than adults. Shoplifters are rarely caught, with only 5-10% being apprehended.
When people, including juveniles, are caught shoplifting, they often share such excuses as “it was an accident” or “the item is actually mine.” Of course, this doesn’t work, and now the youth is facing some consequences. Usually, the punishment is not that serious. In some states, small-time shoplifting is not enforced. In other states, the penalty can be a fine and or time spent in jail.
Stealing cars is another common property theft crime for youths. In 2019, about 13,000 juveniles were arrested for auto theft. Juvenile often steals cars for rather superficial reasons. For example, it is common for young people to steal cars for the adrenaline rush of committing a crime. Another common reason is just for a joy ride. In other words, young people often steal cars for fun.
This is not to say that there is never a financial motivation for stealing cars. Adults often steal cars for momentary gain through selling the car and or the parts that make up the car. For whatever reason, the penalties for auto theft can range from up to two years in prison and or up to $10,000 in fines.
In 2019, 31,000 juveniles committed vandalism. Unlike the other examples of property crimes mentioned earlier, there appears to be no financial motivation for committing vandalism. Youths often vandalize property to express themselves, boredom, as a form of expression, and to join a gang or peer pressure.
Vandalism can lead to fines and or up to one year in jail. Vandalism can be classified as a felony if the act is serious enough.
General causes of property crime
The root causes of property crime are often the same as the root cause of most problems. Family issues are one of the main factors for crime. Youths from broken homes are missing the care and attention they need to make wise choices.
Another common cause of property crime is drug use. For example, a young person may turn to theft to fund a drug habit. In either case, there are motivating factors for the poor decision-making of many youth offenders.
Property crimes are one of many crimes that plague society today. People have their motivation for doing this even if committing propriety crimes is not the best decision. The unfortunate consequences can and do, at times, complicate a person’s life going forward.
It is not a secret that sometimes youths make poor decisions, leading to them committing acts of violence. According to the CDC, acts of violence committed by youth cost over $100 billion annually. One example of violence committed by youth is simple assault which makes up over 40% of crimes committed by juveniles. Other crimes committed by young people include larceny, aggravated assault, vandalism, robbery, motor vehicle theft, and homicide. Given the nature of these crimes, we will look at some of the causes of youth violence.
A major factor in youth violence is drugs. Approximately 80% of minors in the juvenile justice system in the US committed their crime while under the influence of drugs or admitted to having a drug problem. In addition, between 1.9 and 2.4 million minors in the juvenile justice system have a drug problem.
Experts call this relationship between drugs and crime a psychopharmacological relationship because drug use was a factor in criminal behavior. Other crimes associated with drugs include:
The manufacturing of drugs.
Theft of drugs.
Disputes over drugs.
The use of illegal drugs.
Among the legal charges, a youth can face from drugs includes drug possession, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing. If they remain on a young person’s record, any of these charges can have long-term implications for education and job opportunities in the future. This all assumes that a juvenile does not lose their life from an overdose or experience related to drug behavior.
Problems within the family can also lead to youth violence. Today, many homes no longer fit a traditional pattern of married biological parents supporting children. In addition, sexual abuse to about 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls in the USA. Furthermore, 90% of the victims experience this trauma at the hand of someone they knew.
The signs of sexual abuse are difficult to tell among teenagers as they vary wildly at this age. However, some things to look for are changes in behavior and emotions. The trauma they have experienced in their personal life could lead to poor choices in behavior outside of the home.
Of course, the concepts influence each other. Drug abuse can lead to mental health issues, and mental health issues can lead to drug use. Crime can lead to drug use and or mental health issues and vice versa. Sexual abuse can lead to drug use and or health issues. These ideas are interconnected, but you have to decide what you are looking for when developing a model.
Young people face many challenges today. From broken homes to threats to their physical being to challenges with mental health, young people have to be vigilant. If a youth goes down the path of violence, it is always important to see what factors lead to such a faithful decision.
A specific field in which statistics is used is the field of crime. IN this post, we will look at how researchers attempt to measure crime. Primarily we will look at issues with data collection and one of the main agencies for consolidating data regarding crime.
A major challenge in measuring crime is that not all crimes are reported. It is common for rape victims to avoid reporting what happened to them. Criminals are also usually reluctant to report crimes that happen to them. Petty and property crimes are also underreported. As such, the collected data does not fully represent crime in the actual world.
One source for criminal statistics is the Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Compiled by the FBI since 1930, the UCR gathers data from over 90% of all of the various police agencies in the USA. This report contains data from Part 1 crimes, which are generally serious crimes, including some of the following.
Various forms of theft (larceny, motor vehicle)
Another hurdle to crime reporting to the UCR is that each agency must report the most single crime for each instance of criminal activity. For example, if multiple crimes are committed by one person in one instance, only the most serious offense is reported.
Arrests are also reported to the UCR. Collecting data on arrests helps agencies calculate a clearance rate and the percentage of crimes that lead to an arrest.
There can also be issues after a criminal is caught and does time. FOr example, in one county, a juvenile may commit a crime and get probation, but in another county, they may have to do time behind bars. This is partly due to various philosophies of judges and probation officers in dealing with crime. This makes a difference in criminal punishment based on philosophy rather than something less subjective.
Consumers of Crime Statistics
Policymakers often use the collection of criminal statistics to determine various laws and funding they want to provide to law enforcement agencies. One common problem is that consumers of crime statistics are not aware of the context in which the data is collected, leading to faulty conclusions.
For example, back in the 1990s, there was a dip in criminal behavior. A group of experts concluded that this dip in criminal behavior was due to changes in access to birth control in the 1970s. The thinking went that the birth of unwanted children in the 1970s prevented the birth of criminals who would have been terrorizing society in the 1990s.
The example above may be considered an extreme example, but this can happen when people place their interpretation on data without having a deeper understanding of how that data was collected. Given that crime statistics are not 100% reliable, strong conclusions should be guarded.
Despite these challenges, data on crime is needed. What is really important is that people avoid jumping to strong conclusions based on data known to have issues. Some insight into criminal behavior is better than none, but care and restraint are needed in the conclusions.
Young people sometimes make mistakes and violate the laws of a country. Natural, this leads to consequences that vary based on the transgression. This post will look at various categories and types of laws.
Categories of Criminal Behavior
There are two broad categories where we can place crimes that young people commit. These categories are
Mala in see
Malum in prohibitum
Mala in se is Latin for “wrong by itself,” and these are crimes that people instinctively know are wrong. Examples are robbery, murder, and other acts viewed as heinous. However, people’s views on morality vary widely. Therefore, one basis for what is considered “instinctively wrong” is English and US Common Law.
Common law was developed through decisions made in the court system over hundreds of years. The opinions of judges became precedent for future decisions. Through this process, an idea of what and wrong has been developed, which is used now to determine when crimes fall in the category of mala in se.
The second category of crimes is malum in prohibitum, which translates from the Latin as “wrong when prohibited.” These crimes are not necessarily morally evil but are actions that need to be regulated. Examples of laws that fall within malum in prohibitum include laws related to various licenses people may need (driving, fishing, hunting, etc.), gambling, alcohol, and drug use. Again, many may disagree if these crimes are less harmful, but this is the example given.
Students have and will commit both categories of crime in the examples above. Students will willfully commit crimes obviously while also breaking laws that regulate less offensive behavior.
Types of Laws
After categories, laws are sometimes classified by type. Civil laws include property laws, contract laws, tort laws, and more. Civil laws often involve private parties, do not include the loss of freedom for the defendant, involve the defendant paying money if they lose in many situations, and do not have the same constitutional protections found in criminal cases.
On the other hand, criminal cases usually involve the government bringing formal charges against someone. There is a risk of the defendant losing their from if they lose, and the defendant has certain constitutional rights protecting them. Criminal law also requires actions and behaviors. In other words, the accused must be accused of doing something and not just thinking about it. For example, suppose a person sneezes while driving and someone is hurt in the accident. In that case, there is a chance that the sneezer will not be guilty of a crime because it is impossible to control when you sneeze.
Quality of Mind
The state of mind is also another significant factor in determining an individual’s guilt. There are four ways a person can commit a crime: intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, and negligently. AN intentional act means somebody committed a crime on purpose. Knowingly is obvious and states that a person was aware that what they were doing was a crime, such as breaking into a house and making jewelry.
Recklessness involves a person acting in such a way that is an obvious danger and a disregard for acceptable standards. For example, many people define driving 100 mph in a school zone as reckless. Lastly, negligence is when someone ignores an obvious danger when performing a certain activity, such as driving 100 mph and then hitting and killing someone.
Young people can be found in any state of mind mentioned above. Youths can be international, or they can be reckless or negligent, etc. We all make mistakes, but the stakes are much higher at the criminal level.
Young people will continue to make decisions that strongly impact their lives. Committing crimes is one thing that can have a lasting impact. Youths and teachers need to work together for the young people to develop decision-making skills that will allow them to avoid criminal acts.
This post will look at various types of crowds that we often find ourselves a part of at different times. In addition, we will look at two theories that attempt to explain the collective behavior that happens when crowds form.
A crowd is a group of people who are close to each other. There are several types of crowds. A casual crowd is a group of people who are together but not really interacting with each such as what one would find in a shopping mall. In the shopping mall, there are lots of people, but the interaction among the people is often limited to small groups.
A conventional crowd is a group of people who come together for a scheduled event. A common example of a conventional crowd would be people coming together for a religious service. In such an environment, the people have a general-purpose. There is generally more interaction because of the unity that a religious experience can often bring people.
An expressive crowd is a crowd that is together for an emotional purpose. Examples of expressive crowds can include such things as weddings and funerals. Lastly, an acting crowd is a crowd that comes together for a specific purpose or goal, such as a sporting event. Of course, these categories are artificial, and maybe an event may not fit neatly in anyone exclusively, but they do provide a way to organize large groups of people.
When people find themselves in crowds, they often exhibit the group’s norms, which is called collective behavior. For example, a perfectly rational individual will begin to act emotionally in a charismatic religious experience or will become violent within the context of a riot.
Several theories have attempted to explain how norms in crowds develop. Emergent norm theory states that people react to the crowd they are in with their own norms, which change as the crowd responds to different stimuli. For example, suppose people are angry and frustrated with the government. In that case, the group may believe that breaking and burning things is acceptable. Outsiders consider this lawbreaking, but for the people within the crowd, this is justifiable behavior in the face of injustice. In other words, the emergent theory attempts to explain that the behavior of a crowd is not irrational and unpredictable but rather a logical response to the current situation.
An example of such behavior can be found in the protesting in the US. People got together and began to break into buildings and steal and destroy property. Things individuals would have never done by themselves were brazenly done in a justified manner due to the perception of injustice.
Value-added theory states that several conditions must be present for collective behavior as found in a crowd can take place.
The first is structural conduciveness which means that people are aware of a problem and begin to gather together.
The second is a structural strain which is people developing frustration over the unsolved problem.
Third is growth and spread of disbelief which means the problem is clearly defined and blame is placed on an individual or group.
The fourth condition is called precipitating factors, which is a trigger event that leads to collective behavior.
The fifth condition is mobilization which involves the emergence of leaders to guide the crowd.
The final condition is social control, and this involves the process of ending the collective behavior.
The protesting that has taken place in the US can also be explained from the perspective of value-added theory. A group of people gather together over a perceived injustice, they begin to get angry, they blame the people in positions of power, some starts to break, burn or steal something, more people follow this example and chaos breaks out, only after a time are the authorities able to end the carnage.
These conditions do not have to happen linearly, but most must be present for collective behavior to begin. For example, leaders can emerge at the beginning rather than the fifth condition.
The theories above try to explain from different viewpoints a phenomenon that most of us have experienced: the loss of self when moving in a crowd. The behavior of such crowds does not have to be negative, but it is negative behavior that is easier to notice compared to positive action. In whatever case, these theories do provide some insight into what can be a blessing or a curse.
People have tried to explain population growth and decline for centuries. A major topic of controversy today is how to deal with an ever-increasing population. This post will look at several theories that try to address population growth.
Thomas Malthus is famous for claiming that the Earth would lose its ability to sustain an ever-growing population. In his theory, Malthus claims three factors would limit the growth of humans on Earth. These three factors are war, famine, and disease. Malthus defined these three factors as “positive checks” because they increase mortality.
Malthus also defined “preventive checks” or factors that reduced fertility. These factors were birth control and celibacy. As resources were depleted, Malthus theorized that they would begin to fight wars, generally leading to famine and disease. As the fighting over resources continued, people would limit the children they have or even forgo marriage and having children together.
Malthus’s predictions turned out to be incorrect. There have been technological improvements that he could never have foreseen. These improvements in technology have not only increased food production but have also included treatments for diseases that used to kill.
However, Malthus was correct about preventive checks. In the western world and some parts of Asia (Japan, China, Singapore, and Thailand). Fertility rates have plummeted as people focus on careers and other things rather than raising a family. The general trend of the world is an increase in people, but this may change with time.
Zero Population Growth
A variation on Malthus theory was developed by Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich states that the environment and not food supply is the factor that determines the planet’s population. As more and more people abuse the environment, it endangers the human population.
Ehrlich’s solution to this problem is zero population growth which, as its name implies, that the number of births equals the number of deaths. No practical way has been found to do this, but this demographic theory is often associated with conspiracy theories of how the elite wants to limit population growth.
The opposite of Malthus and Ehrlich’s position would be cornucopian theory. This theory posits that human ingenuity can resolve whatever problems humans face. It is possible to cite human ingenuity examples that develop after a crisis, such as vaccinations. However, often by the time the breakthrough is implemented, the catastrophe has already done significant damage has already been done.
Not even the Black Death of the medieval period completely wiped out humanity. The cornucopian theory is always correct until something happens on Earth that wipes out human existence.
Demographic Transition Theory
Demographic transition theory takes a modeling approach to demographic change. Population growth follows four predictable stages in this theory, as explained below.
Stage 1: Births, deaths, and infant mortality are high with low life expectancy.
Stage 2: Birth rates are high while infant mortality and death drops with an increase in life expectancy
Stage 3: Birthrates decline for the first time while death rates continue their decline, life expectancy continues to increase
Stage 4: Birth and death rates keep falling, life expectancy peaks, the population stabilizes, and may start to decline.
These stages are often associated with industrialization. Many countries enter stage 2 when they begin to industrialize. A fully developed country is often found in stage 3, while a post-industrial country could be found in stage 4.
The question that perhaps everyone is wondering is perhaps how much more can the population grow on this planet? It may be impossible to know for sure. Every time it appears the Earth has reached its limit, new resources are discovered, and there is a boost in technology that makes it easier to continue life with whatever resources are available. A question such as this is one that experts will wrestle with for a long time.
In this post, we will look at different types of government.
Anarchy is defined as an absence of government. In practice, anarchies are for the short-term because eventually, from the chaos of a lack of government comes some sort of structure, whether it’s a dictator or king or some other form of government. There is always some ambitious, strong man looking to fill a power vacuum in a place of chaos.
Often after revolutions, there is a state of anarchy. The French Revolution was one example of chaos being the order until Robespierre came to power. The Russian Revolution of the early 20th century is yet another example. In both examples, there was a short period of chaos followed by a strong totalitarian reaction.
Monarchy is a government in which one person is in charge until they die or give up power. Often, the role of a monarch is hereditary but necessarily always. There is also a common claim of divine or supernatural approval. This was often the case in Europe, where monarchs frequently courted papal approval of their rule.
There are generally two types of monarchs. Absolute monarchs have complete power to do as they see fit. This still of government is rare because people generally do not appreciate being under the whim of anybody to such a degree. Many kings from medieval Europe were absolute monarchs.
The challenge of being an absolute monarch is not when things are going well. When there is peace and everybody is happy, the monarch gets all the credit because they are absolutely in charge. However, when things fall apart, the monarch also gets all the blame because they are absolutely in charge.
In addition, people, whether a monarch or not, can be capricious and unpredictable. If the monarch shows inconsistencies or weaknesses, people may try to remove them to protect themselves and their gains within the country. For example, Henry VI of England was removed several times because of the weakness of his character and mental instability. In other words, having this level of power is not as great as it seems.
Another form of monarchy is a constitutional monarchy. In this form of government, the monarch’s power is limited by the constitution. You would think that having a constitution limiting a monarch’s power would irritate them, and it has in some instances. However, the benefit of a constitution is that giving up some power can help a monarch stay in the position of privilege that they have because everything that goes wrong is not completely their fault. Many monarchies today are constitutional monarchies such as Great Britain, and often these monarchs are above politics, which makes it difficult to complain about them as they stay out of governmental decision-making for the most part.
However, even giving up power can lead to a monarchy being removed. Louis XVI of France and Czar Nicholas II of Russia both made reforms before being overthrown. On the other hand, the British monarchy has been stable for decades. therefore, there is no single strategy that can protect a government
Oligarch is government by a small elite. OFten these elites are rather sneaky and work behind the scenes. One reason for this is they do not want to be held responsible if something goes wrong. AS such, it is hard to tell when a country’s government is an oligarchy.
Members of an oligarchy tend to excel at one aspect of society or another. For example, they may be wealthy businessmen, military strongmen, or clergy members. Due to its mysterious nature, it is difficult for others to rise to membership in this exclusive and secretive club.
Dictatorship is power held by a single person. A dictator is different from a monarch because their power is not hereditary, and dictators often arise from a revolution to overthrow another government, so they avoid the word king even if they have the same powers. In other words, they are a king, but that word is not socially acceptable.
Dictators are normally charismatic leaders who rise to power on the back of the people. Once in place, they are looking to find ways to stay in power and are often worst than the people they overthrew. Pol pot of Cambodia killed millions of his own people, Hitler of Germany killed millions of Jews, Idi Amin ran his country into the ground. Each of these totalitarian dictators sought to control as much of the lives of the people under them as they could.
The most popular form of government is democracy. Democracy involves giving all citizens an equal voice in the government. These citizens then elect leaders to represent their interest in the government. In practice, this sounds great, but sometimes it can be frustrating.
People looking for a positi0n of power know that perception is more important than truth. As a result, it is common for politicians in democracies to try and find ways to manipulate their constituencies. Outlandish claims are made in the media; overt and covert lying occurs. All this is done in the name of democracy.
However, this only happens because the citizens often neglect to educate themselves about what is going on. Therefore, people cast votes for controversial topics they have not thoroughly investigated. The point here is not to criticize any position but to wonder if people have really thought about the position they support instead of the one they do not support.
Every form of government has its strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, there is no real benefit in raising one form over another. This is because governments are built upon people. If the people or not good, it doesn’t matter how good the government is.
Various countries and governments have developed different forms of authority to maintain power and stability. This post will look at three common forms of authority found throughout the world.
As its name implies, traditional authority relies on tradition to maintain its power. Examples of traditional authority usually include monarchies such as those found in Europe at one time. People support the leader because this support has been given for a long time.
The actual leader often does not have power beyond people’s respect for them. The leader can often have a figurehead-type status while others exercise overt power. For example, it is common in many countries with traditional authority to have the monarch avoid politics and serve a ceremonial role.
A variation of traditional authority is called patrimonialism. Patrimonialism is a strong-man character who has a strong administration and military support. Some may see this as a form of military-backed dictatorship. The people under the supreme leader only have their privileges through their obedience and loyalty to the supreme leader.
Charismatic authority generally involves an individual who gains power through the strength of their personality more than on any other single reason. Often this will happen during a time of crisis in which people are looking for help and or protection. One example of this would be Napolean Bonaparte, who rose to power in France after the French Revolution.
However, charismatic leaders often do not last long. There may be several reasons for this. The crisis may worsen, the leader’s shortcomings become more apparent over time, or someone even more popular arises to threaten the leader. These are not the only reasons, but they play a part in the demise of charismatic leaders. For example, Napolean’s shortcomings as a general were the primary reason for his downfall. Though one of the greatest generals ever, he was not perfect, and often leaders are expected to never fail.
Rational-legal authority emphasizes laws, rules, regulations, and the office of authority rather than the individual person. Countries with constitutions are often inspired by rational-legal authority. For example, the United States is a strong example of rational-legal authority. They have a constitution and a new president every 4 to 8 years. The power lies within the office, and there is no idea of a single absolute authority but rather an emphasis on “we the people.”
With the focus on laws, all the lawmakers have to do is make illegal things legal and legal things illegal, and there will not be as much push-back from the people because they believe in the rule of law. Examples of this from the United States can include any controversial topic such as sexuality, taxes, reproductive rights, etc. Each of these examples involves actions that were legal, then illegal, or vice versa. In summary, whoever defines the laws appears to have the power in a rational-legal framework.
Countries require leadership, and leaders can have various forms of authority. The examples provided here are just some of the commonly seen options. Naturally, it would be an oversimplification to think that leaders and countries could not mix the examples above. For example, Cesar was charismatic and spent a lot of time passing various laws. The real point here is to be aware of these various styles.
Family is a term that is used but not necessarily agreed upon. In this post, we will look at views on family and the stages of family. Understanding the stages of family life will help teachers try to help parents.
Defining Marriage & Family
Family often begins with marriage, and defining marriage has been controversial for years now. Traditional marriage in the West generally involves people of the opposite sex who have some sort of a public ceremony. A family that is formed through marriage is called a family of procreation. Marriage can also be more complex. Some support having multiple partners, which is called polygamy or polyandry (multiple wives or husbands).
Despite being around since the beginning of time, people do not agree on what family is. One definition sees family as the blood relations a person has. However, many people do not grow up with blood relatives and thus may see adoptive parents or friends as family. Sociologists try to deal with this by speaking about a family of orientation which is the family in which one is born or raised.
Stages of a Family
There are seven common stages that a family goes through. Stage 1 is the marriage family and is usually childless. The couple is essentially newlyweds and has not had any children yet. Stage 2 is the procreation stage and involves having newborns to toddlers. This stage is a huge transition as the responsibility of parenthood has descended on a young couple.
Stage 3 is the preschooler family and goes from toddlers until 6 years of age. Generally, kids are not yet in school and spend most of their time at home or daycare. Stage 4 is the school-age family and goes from age 6-13. At this stage, children are in school, are more independent, and the parents can focus more on their jobs and career.
Stage 5 is the teenage family and goes from age 13-20. The children are adults who lack experience and need to be guided by their parents. As they push the limits, parents can begin to worry greatly about the young adults in their house. Stage 6 is the launching family and involves young adults leaving home. This can be extremely emotional as children leave home and parents have to deal with the separation from adult children. Lastly, stage 7 is the empty nest family, which is a family in which the children have grown up and moved away. Now that their children are adults, parents are left with a huge transition as they try to find other ways to invest their time.
Families and Education
The stages are useful but not always accurate. It is common to have children in various age categories simultaneously. For example, have a toddler and a teenager in the same house. Is such a family a preschooler or teenager family? It may not be clear, but perhaps the stage is tied to the individual child instead of the entire family.
For teachers, the stages of the family often involve them dealing with families from at least the stages 2-6. Parents will be in different stages with different children, which may impact whatever children the teacher is dealing with. For example, suppose a 10 year has an older sibling who is leaving for college. In that case, this could cause behavioral problems as the students struggle to accept this separation. In addition, if a 7-year-old now has a baby brother, this could also lead to problems as they adjust to less attention from their parents. These two examples don’t even consider the fracturing of a family through a divorce or the commonly found experience of single parents.
Teachers and families have to work together to help children. This is an idea that seems to have been forgotten over the years. With the challenges of moving through each stage of family life, teachers need to be aware and understand as they try to support the home.
Social stratification is the ranking of individuals using various factors such as wealth, income, education, etc. While I was preparing this post, I could not find any evidence of a classless society. In fact, some of the sources claimed that no such society as a classless one has existed. This implies that stratification is a natural part of human existence whether people like it or not.
What causes this is not always apparent. For some reason, people often like to exalt themselves and be above others. There is a tendency in some people to desire control and dominance. Sometimes people are chosen to be the leader or in a higher social position by others in the society. Leaders often fall into this category and can include politicians, clergy, and kings. Others gain a higher status through hard work, and people admire and appreciate this. For example, Napolean was able to rise through the ranks of the military due to his brilliant leadership and eventually became emperor.
There are also examples in history of people gaining power not just for selfish reasons but for personal protection from one’s enemies. Ceaser was truly driven by a desire to rule, but he also had enemies who were waiting for him to lose power so they could attack him through various legal means. Therefore, Ceasar looked for ways to maintain the leadership of provinces and be consul of Rome to maintain his legal immunity. Even when taking power, he generally would grant amnesty to enemies to avoid stirring up more enmity. However, as he became more powerful, he just became even scarier to the other elites who simply murdered him one day.
The best it appears people can hope for without being cynical is a world in which the elite and upper class refrain from abusing and mistreating the people below. There is also little historical evidence of elite restraint as there is almost no evidence of a classless society. Different people put in different amounts of work, and some find different ways to cheat their way, and thus there will always be differences between the ranking of people.
There are several terms related to social stratification. The caste system is one. With the caste system, people are born into a certain level of society, and they are stuck there forever. There is no social mobility. Examples of this can be found in India, Feudal Japan, and Medieval Europe.
Marriages between caste are frowned upon or even illegal. For example, a friend from India told me how they got married. She was from the warrior caste, while her future husband was from the priestly caste. Since they were Christian, they did not think they were bound by the tradition of the caste system and for married. Being it was a Christian community, everyone was okay with it; however, several people were still worried that something “bad” might happen to the newlywed couple because of the country’s cultural background. India abolished the caste system, but its roots are still strong in some situations.
Class Systemand Meritocracy
The class system is a more flexible style of social stratification in which people belong to one of many different classes based on their wealth, education, etc. Examples of classes can include upper, middle, and lower classes. Unlike the caste system, which discourages marriage, the class system does not generally condemn marriages of people from different classes.
Meritocracy is social stratification based on effort. At best, meritocracy has been partially implemented in many places. No matter how hard humans try, people are just good at findings ways of getting through the system without equal work. This leads to frustration by those who “play by the rules.” Another problem is that some people will achieve a great deal in one area, but this area is not valued as important by society.
Highly educated people often have amazing expertise in minute details of life that are not generally valued by the larger society in terms of prestige and financial remuneration. This can lead to frustration and desires to challenge the social stratification. At times, some of the strongest proponents of a classless society are people who do not have the status they believe they deserve.
Stratification is always going to be a problem. This is because people will always find ways to move up the social hierarchy through honest hard work and abuse the system for personal gain. Unfortunately, people may lose status due to mistakes or injustice, and those who are higher up may mistreat those who are lower, which is not fair or right again.
This post will look at society and terms related to it as defined from two schools of thought in society. This viewpoints are functionalism and conflict theory.
There are several terms used in the functionalist school for describing societies. For example, collective conscience is the beliefs that constitute a society. An example from the United States would be an emphasis on individualism and capitalism. These beliefs are a part of most Americans’ lives and serve as a common worldview for people from this country.
Social integration is the strength of the ties within a society or a social group. Some societies have stronger ties than others. Many factors can affect social integration, such as the size, similarities of the members, etc. For example, social integration is generally a problem in the US as there is a lot of infighting and discord that is not found in other societies.
There is also a concept called solidarity. Solidarity is a continuum with mechanical solidarity on one side and organic solidarity on the other. Mechanical solidarity has such characteristics as a strong collective conscience, high social integration, and a dedication to doing things the way they are for traditional reasons. This form of solidarity is common in pre-industrial societies where there is a low division of labor.
Organic solidarity is the opposite of mechanical. This means there is a low collective conscience and low social integration. This form of solidarity is common in industrial societies with a high degree of specialized labor. At extreme levels, organic solidarity can be a place for anomie or lawlessness. Anomie involves the rejection of societal norms, which leads to a loss of identity for members of that society.
Norms are often developed and encouraged through habitulization and institutionalization. Habitulization is learning norms through habit development through friends and family. Instititunilization is learning norms through the workplace or school. These norm-forming places are often attacked in societies that have organic solidarity.
Conflict theory views society as a place of alienation. Different people define Marx’s alineation in different ways. Some have called it a separation from what one does. Others have said that alineation is a lack of individual development. Karl Marx’s in his Communist Manifesto indicates that alienation can happen in several different ways.
One way alienation happens is through alienation from the product of one’s labor. A second is through the process of one’s labor. THird is from others, and the fourth is from self. All of these various forms of alienation happen in a factory setting for the most part and are found in an industrial society. In other words, alienation is similar to the traits found in an organic solidarity context.
To stop alienation, Marx essentially encourages revolution to overturn the bourgeoisie and their money so that the means of production belong to the people. People who did not agree with this position were accused of having a false consciousness or beliefs, not in their best interest. IN other words, proponents of Conflict theory imply that they know what is best for people.
Different experts choose to look at society using different viewpoints. Functionalist and conflict theorists have different opinions over the structure of societies. Agreeing is not the point but rather understanding how there is more than one way to see anything.
Socialization is the process in which people learn how to be members of a specific society. Several institutions play a critical role in the socialization of people, and these are the family, religion, schools, peers, job, and government. We will look at each below.
The family is perhaps the strongest socializing agent in a person’s life. The earliest knowledge about the world and how a child sees the world is shaped by the family initially. The family continues to influence the child throughout their lives by accepting or rejecting the child’s actions.
Different families also socialize their children in different ways. For example, worker-class families often emphasize obedience while middle and upper-class families focus on creativity and critical thinking. As such, these children from these different families are taught that different things are important.
Religion plays a critical role in socializing people. Even in families that do not encourage religion, they send a message that religion is not important. Often religion provides various ceremonies that are connected with the family. Examples can include weddings, funerals, and rites of passages ceremonies like Bar mitzvahs among Jews.
Religion also often provides a moral framework for a person. People learn right from wrong by going to church or reading the religious text of their religion. REligions also define roles for people in society, such as the role of the man and woman in marriage and the local leadership.
Outside the home, the place that may have the most influence on individuals and socialization may be the schools. Teachers serve as role models and surrogate parents through spending entire days with children. Students learn about the values of their society at school as well. Schools do not only teach subjects but also help to shape a student’s worldview.
One of the reasons for the huge debate over education in the US is what values should be taught in school. Many parents are pushing back against what schools want to do in the classroom because, fundamentally, the parents do not support the current form of socialization in schools today.
Peers are often met at school and also influence the socialization process. Peers teach people how to interact with members of their age group. Peers can be a positive or negative influence on socialization. However, at least among young people, friends are generally a negative influence. This leads to the point that the different agencies spoken of here often compete in terms of their influence over a person.
The government is also mentioned here because the government is often heavily influencing the school. Through policies government influences almost all aspects of a person’s life. Such things that are influenced by the government are schools, salaries, health, retirement, marriage, among other things.
Governments are also often involved in shaping the values of their citizens. This is done by encouraging patriotism and nativism. America is famous for supporting the American way and the American Dream among its people. In addition, democratic values are highly encouraged and even exported to other countries.
When people grow up, the workplace can also serve a role in socialization. Most workplaces and companies have a set of values that they want their employees to accept and model. There are also unwritten rules of interaction, such as dealing with superiors and how to deal with peers.
People also frequently change jobs, which means they accept and reject various values they have throughout their lives. For example, something that is acceptable in one company may be unacceptable in another. Sometimes the only way to learn this is to gain the approval or disapproval of others in the company.
Another powerful influence on socializing is media. People often decide what is right or wrong based on the media. Media has such influence on people’s lives now that there are accusations of “fake news” when views are shared that are not appreciated by one side or the other.
There is also the idea of “cancel culture,” which involves punishing someone by making them disappear from the internet for saying something that offends somebody. This is yet another example of socialization as it provides examples of things that should be said in the online context. This is even more amazing because people can be canceled for things they said before “cancel culture” even existed. In other words, a person needs to be perfect even before the standards change; otherwise, they will be held responsible for something they said even before saying such a thing was so offensive.
As long as people live among each other, socialization will be important. The examples provide here share a glimpse of the major agents in the socialization of people.
A school is a type of formal organization. An organization is a group of people who are working together as a body to do something. A formal organization is an organization that has rules and regulations. Another trait of many organizations is that they often have traits of bureaucracies. This post will explore different types of organizations and also explain the characteristics of bureaucracies.
There are several types of organizations. A voluntary organization is an organization that is based on a common interest. Many of the clubs that one would find in a school would qualify as a voluntary organization. Examples would include student council, art club, photo club, or drama club. These are generally voluntary in that students can choose or not choose to participate, and they often involve hobbies students enjoy. For teachers, voluntary organizations might include associations such as the National Education Association (NEA) or Kappa Delta Pi. Teachers are often the leaders of various after-school clubs and thus members of these organizations at the local school level.
Coercive organizations, as the name implies, are organizations people are compelled to join. School is a coercive organization for many students as many young people do not want to be there. Another example is a prison, as most inmates do not want to be inmates. This leads to the point that different people have different views of organizations. A teacher will probably not think of their school as a coercive organization, but a student might.
Total institutions are organizations that have sweeping powers over the lifestyles and choices of the members. Prison is one such example. In addition, many cults can have a large influence over the lives of their members in a way that is totalitarian. With time, schools have been given more and more responsibility for students’ lives to appear as total institutions. Schools’ responsibilities now include transportation, breakfast, after-school programs, sports, sex education, supporting students with disabilities, second language instruction, etc. Some of these examples are so old that they seem comical. However, there was a time when schools did not do these things.
Lastly, a utilitarian organization is an organization people join for a reward such as a salary or prestige. For example, teachers may see the school at which they work as a utilitarian organization because of the money. A student who goes to college may see the college as a utilitarian organization because of the reward of a degree at the end of their studies. Again, how a person views an organization can vary as one voluntary organization is another person’s utilitarian organization
Organizations often become bureaucracies which are simple, highly formal organizations. It is difficult to tell when an organization is a bureaucracy. However, organizations exhibit several traits of bureaucracies when they reach this stage of development, and they are…
clear division of labor
Burecraies have a strong hiearchy. At schools, it is clear who is in charge. Often, you will see a picture of the principal somewhere and the rest of the administrative team. At the university level, you will have a president, VPs, Deans, Chairs, etc., clearly mapped out for everyone. There are also clear lines of labor. Teachers teach while administrators deal with administration only at smaller organizations do these lines blend. When an organization is larger enough, clearly delineating these things is critical to order.
Bureaucracies also have clear, explicit rules. Again, we all know how obsessed schools are with rules. There are rules for the cafeteria, the library, the classroom, the playground; there are general school rules. Then there are policies for teachers, parents, administrators, and the list goes on and on. The large number of policies and rules are overwhelming, especially if one moves to the district or state level.
Bureaucracies are also highly impersonal. For schools, this applies if the school is really big, perhaps several thousand students. Universities are often viewed as impersonal monsters where nobody cares, and they are often personified when people or students want to complain about them. A common name is “the system,” as in “the the system fail such and such.” Another term common today is “systemic racism”; however, systems are not alive and thus cannot actually be racists. People can be racist through the rules they implement and enforce within the system, but the system has no life or conscience of its own.
Lastly, bureaucracies are based on merit. Within the government, promotion is generally based on years of service and some sort of assessment. To become a teacher, a person has to receive a certain amount of training. To become an administrator, the same idea applies. Honor students earned good grades, which is the way they are being honored. The point is that in bureaucracies, merit is a common trait.
Organizations are a necessary part of the human experience. Everyone belongs to one organization or another for whatever reason. With time, organizations can grow and become bureaucracies that have their own pros and cons.
Throughout human history, there have been various types of societies that people have been found to inhabit. Although it might not be totally fair or accurate to state that these societies have appeared in chronological order since most of these societies are still present today, the types that are considered “older” are not as frequently found as later forms of societies.
This post will cover several commonly found societies in the world. These types of societies are…
The first four societies (Hunter-Gatherer, Pastoral, Horticultural, and Agricultural) are considered preindustrial societies.
A Hunter-gather society focuses on hunting and foraging or gathering plants for food that are uncultivated. Family and tribe and generally important in these types of societies. Often, this society is migratory follow the resources they hunt or leaving an area once the resources are depleted.
Hunter-gatherers are considered the oldest type of society. However, today they are rare to find, except for indigenous peoples in various parts of the world. As the world becomes more urbanized and centralized, many governments prefer to keep a closer eye on people who wander from place to place and thus often discourage this lifestyle. As such, hunter-gathers are continuing to decline in terms of their numbers.
A pastoral society is a society in which the people have chosen to domesticate animals and plants. Despite this development, pastoral societies still had a nomadic lifestyle because they had to follow the food source of their animals. With the domestication of animals also came the use of the animals not just for food but also for clothing, transportation, and a general surplus of food. With this surplus, people began to specialize in various occupations needed by their society.
Horticultural and Agricultural
Horticultural societies developed in places with enough rain to allow people to stay in one place and grow feed in permanent settlements. Unlike the other two societies mentioned, horticulturalists did not live a nomadic lifestyle. What horticultural societies were missing was strong, reliable tools, which came with the development of agricultural societies.
Agricultural societies involved the use of tools that took farming from subsistence to a commercial level. People could not farm not just for survival but for profit. Various techniques for farming also developed, such as the use of fertilizers, crop rotation, and tools were use to boost yields. Specialization was also stronger, and many people would work in various occupations that had nothing to do with farming. Examples include the scholar, blacksmith, merchant, and more. With these various classes came division as one class or the other was viewed as superior to another.
Feudal societies are commonly found in the Middle Ages in Europe and in places such as Russia, Japan, and Thailand, among other places. This society did not involve a major technological change in how food production took place but was rather a time of power consolidation.
In any society, people begin to figure out how to exploit the rules to their advantage or to simply break the rules. Feudalism was essentially a rich gentry at the top exploiting the poor under them. All the poor seemed to get was protection from other rich people who wanted to conquer their village and become their slaves. There was no social mobility, and it was no way to break away and become independent.
The birth of industrial societies involves developing many forms of machinery that automate or speed up tasks. For example, steam-powered helped with transportation (trains and boats) and farm production (cotton). The improvements in technology led to increased factory production and allowed average people to own what used to be considered luxury items. Items such as paper and glass were quickly being made available for everybody.
It was during this time that people took their focuses away from the family to economic activity. A new generation of capitalists was able to unseat the feudalists from their seats of power. Essentially, capitalists were people who knew how to exploit and break the new rules for wealth and power.
Perhaps the latest form of society is the post-industrial society, also known as the information age. Now, instead of making food (preindustrial focus) or making things (industrial focus), the information society uses various technical skills related to dealing with data. Today, there are jobs such as data scientists, analysis, computer science, etc., that focus on dealing with information in one way or another.
Work and career are also becoming much more important. A feudal farmer was not worried about a career, only surviving the day and relaxing in the even. The farmer’s life was focused on his family and not climbing the corporate ladder. Now, people are often socialized to put job and career before most other matters, which has weakened family relations.
Today people live in all of the societies mentioned here. It’s up to the person to decide which one of these societies works best for them. The primary goal was to share the various types of society found in the world today.
In this post, we will look at several significant theories of sociology. These are basic ideas that anyone familiar with the field would know.
The functional perspective in sociology sees society as structured in a way that the parts of society are interrelated and connected. Each part or piece of society’s primary purpose is to meet people’s social and biological needs. The ideas behind this thought were developed by Herbert Spencer, who compared society to the human body. As the various body parts work together, so do the various social institutions of society.
Social institutions are the organizations in a society that meet the social needs of people. Examples of social institutions include schools, government agencies, churches, families, hospitals, etc. When these various institutions work together to benefit individuals, a state called dynamic equilibrium is met, and society is generally stable.
With the development of any society, specific laws, morals, values, etc., govern individual people’s behavior. These rules are called social facts. These rules protect society from social unrest and insecurity. For example, perhaps all countries have rules against theft and murder as allowing such behavior to go unpunished would unleash chaos.
There are times when society tries to improve the general condition of members, and these are called manifest functions. An example would be encouraging people to buy a home and providing ways to do this. Latent functions are unsolicited outcomes of manifest functions. An example would be an increase in do-it-yourself repairs as more and more people buy homes. When a social process has a negative outcome, it is called a dysfunction. One example of this would be bankruptcy, as people cannot pay for the homes they purchased.
Conflict theory is a theory proposed by Karl Marx, one of the leading proponents of Communism. Marx saw the world as a battle between social classes. This battle can be seen in the inequality in which people have access to the various social institutions of society such as schools, homes, money, jobs, etc. The people who have the most access also work nefariously to ensure others never obtain the same amount or maybe none of these resources.
Out of Marx’s ideas of conflict theory came the contribution of the Frankfurt school and their work with critical theory. Critical theory expands conflict theory to include race, religion, sexuality, gender, and essentially anything that is not a part of the majority’s values. The majority oppresses all minority positions in one way or another. This further expands into ideas developed in intersectionality and critical race theory, queer studies, and more.
The idea of conflict has had a significant impact on the average person. Few people are familiar with functionalism, but almost everyone in the West has heard of inequality and how some have more than others. In addition, Conflict Theory is not content to be a theory but encourages rectifying the inequality in society. Communism, critical theory, critical race theory, Queer Studies, Feminism, and more do not just describe society but want to change it actively.
Symbolic Interactionist Theory
Symbolic interactionist theory is focused on relationships between individuals rather than the broader society. Proponents of this perspective look for patterns in the relationships among people. Instead of looking at inequality and oppression as a conflict theorist, a symbolic interactionist looks at the relationships between activists as they challenge the system. There is an emphasis on symbols and the meaning behind them.
Constructivism is the belief that we construct reality. A term commonly associated with this is social constructs. For example, people have proposed that race, sexuality, and gender are social constructs. In other words, these ideas only exist because people say they do. Naturally, this is highly controversial, but specific ideas that used to be considered fixed are now considered fluid as people challenge existing norms.
These major sociological theories are used as a lens through which many experts see the world. Most of these theories do not have a direct impact on the average person. However, these views influence educators and leaders who either train the next generation or are leading the current one.
This post will begin the exploration of sociology. Whenever possible, connections will be made to education and teaching. For now, we will look at some fundamental terms of sociology and a brief look at the history of this field.
Sociology is the study of the interaction of groups and societies with each other. This study can take place at a macro or micro-level, depending on the interests of the researcher. A micro-level analysis would examine small group and even individual interactions, while a macro-level analysis looks at the interaction between societies.
One aspect of society that sociologists study is culture. Culture is the beliefs and practices of a group. Culture is often studied using sociological imagination, which is an awareness of a person’s behavior and experience as it contributes to shaping the choices and perceptions of a person.
A concept closely related to culture that is also studied in sociology is called social facts. Social facts are the cultural rules that govern life. For example, a sociologist might look at how communication norms have changed since the arrival of social media.
History of Sociology
Sociology appears to have been around much longer than when it was first considered its own independent discipline. Greek philosophers study subjects and concepts associated with sociology, such as social cohesion, conflict, and power. Enlightenment philosophers such as Kant, Voltaire, and Hobbs also developed principles, such as calling for social reform, considered a part of sociology.
Auguste Comte is credited with reinventing the term sociology and popularizing it. Comte proposed that scientists could study society the same way that it was done in the natural sciences. When this happens, the world’s social problems, such as poverty and education, can be solved. The term for scientifically studying society is called positivism. This optimism that science can improve society may be what inspires the push for so much social reform today.
The ideas of Comte were translated from French to English by Martineau, which helped Comte’s ideas to spread. Other early pioneers of sociology include Karl Marx and his Conflict Theory. George Mead is the person who created the term “significant other,” which was initially not limited to a person someone was married to but rather to any important person in someone’s life.
Max Weber may have been one of the most influential of the early sociologist. He challenged Comte’s views on positivism with antipositivism. Antipositivism is simply rejecting the traditional scientific notion of objectivity for being subjective in one’s research. Weber also contributed quantitative and qualitative sociology as distinct research methods.
There is more to the background of sociology than what is provided here. One clear thing is that perhaps the pioneers of this field did not know the impact this discipline would have on the world in the near future