Sociological/criminal theory Students will read the novel “My Bloody Life, The Making of a Latin King” by Reymundo Sanchez and write a 5 to 6-page (double spaced) social analysis paper. Students must research a sociological/criminal theory (i.e. conflict theory, rational choice theory, strain theory, etc.) and apply it to gang-related activity, using experiences and incidents described in Mr. Sanchez’s novel.
For this assignment, the student should choose a theory that “speaks to them” and connects with their thoughts on potential reasons for gang membership and/or gang activity. When conducting the social analysis, the student should examine the causes or effects for an individual subject (i.e. Mr. Sanchez) or a group (i.e. the Latin Kings) and use supporting evidence from the selected theory and course material to develop an argument that assists in strengthening the student’s position.
(Note for success: Please do not only read the first three or so chapters and then base your entire paper on his family and childhood. While the early years of Mr. Sanchez absolutely play a factor, there are significant progressions of criminal acts that transpire throughout the life of this individual, so make sure to touch upon some events from later life as well. Basically, show me that you read the book…)
Sociological explanations of crime have been dominated by three main traditions; learning theories, strain theories and control theories. Other theories have been set forth, but they usually have integrated concepts from or have been developed explicitly to challenge these theories.
As many theories are just that, theories, they tend to have gaps, so it is often find that when exploring certain matters, such as gang involvement and activity, it’s more of an intertwining of various theories.
Learning Theory (Differential Association); developed by Edwin Sutherland
Proposes that through interaction with others, individuals learn the values, attitudes, techniques, and motives for criminal behavior.
This theory focuses on how individuals learn to become criminals but does not concern itself with why they become criminals.
Individuals are most likely to engage in crime if they are exposed to definitions favorable to law violation:
early in life
on a relatively frequent basis
over a long period of time
from sources they like and respect
Individuals learn how to commit criminal acts; they learn motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes. It grows socially easier for the individuals to commit a crime.
Predicts that an individual will choose the criminal path when the balance of definitions for law-breaking exceeds those for law-abiding. This tendency will be reinforced if social association provides active people in the person’s life. Earlier in life the individual comes under the influence of those of high status within that group, the more likely the individual to follow in their footsteps.
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