What is crime? Crime is the violation of laws enacted by society. Crime is a form of deviance. As a child sitting on the dining room table for dinner would be considered deviant. Deviance consist of anything from answering your phone during a lecture to murdering a person. To be deviant is any transgression of socially established norms. Folkways, mores, laws and taboos are the what society calls norms. Crime breaks one the norms with laws. Laws are written rules enforced through social institutions to govern behaviors.
Though you wouldnt be considered a criminal if sitting on top of the dining room table to eat dinner was your thing. You may be looked at with a go to hell look if you choose to do it in public.
America is the only country that promises the pursuit of happiness through our constitution by our founding fathers. Merton came up a with a theory that painted a picture for society and explains why crimals may become associated with crime.
When we hear promise we make sure it happens or at least do our absolute best to keep a promise. The pursuit of happiness aka the American dream may consist of nice house, cars, and maybe even a family of your own. Merton basically said the option to achieve success is offered to everyone ( success equals the American dream), but not everyone as the same means to achieve success. Even in this day and age the multiple equality changes still prevent or hold back certain race, class, gender etc.
Picture the ultimate picture, no struggles necessary. What will it take to get there? All people have the same opportunity to go to college and get a degree to make a more money. All people have the same opportunity to make sure their family is taken care of and no worries if their lights will be shut off, but Merton suggest not everyone has the exact and or right means to get there. Climbing the ladder of success can be very difficult for a poverity lived female possibly due to her available resources. Even if she had a grant to go to college does she have a dependable vehicle to get there. It is within these equalities that causes deviance and potential criminal behavior. If you wanted to make $100,000 and your options were work 3-5 days or 8-5 Monday through Friday all year. Which would you pick? We most likely would pick the easy one right. Three to five days $100,000 sounds good to me. Well drug trafficking is illegal and punishment is fifteen to ninety nine years in prison with fines up to $250,00. To some people thats their way of life. That is their only way to the American dream. That was the only option available. Some families dont get the opportunity to land the 8-5 and make enough money to pursue happiness in this lonely world. Crime has been found to be an easy way out or quick way to climb the ladder IF they arent caught by law enforcement.
People learn techniques, attitudes, and behaviors from close relationships with criminal and non criminal peers. This is called social learning. Criminals may learn different skills or the streets from their neighbors, siblings or possibly even their parents. Thus being how to traffick and sell drugs the street (right) way vs the books so you can achieve success and live your American dream. As with criminals the same outlook for non criminals. When influenced to go to college by social surroundings you may be pressured to go to college, and make something of your self. Nobody ever states hey I want to grow up and be a drug dealer. (Even though lets be honest they make a shit ton of money) It is instilled into our morals and values as a young American child to shoot for the stars, to always do better and be more go to college and make more money. At the end of the day both criminal and non criminal have the same goal as pursuit of happiness that American dream. Whatever it takes to get there.
Compliance with standards, rules, or laws. Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs and behaviors to group norms. To conform is to blend in with your surroundings and achieve your goal. Finding the approved necessities to go to college and succeed. Conformist are considered to be the team player and usually doesnt argue, but goes along with the opinion of influences. Conformist follow the beaten path that will lead them to success. Is conformity good or bad. Does conformity cause harm mentally or physically? That just depends on who is calling the glass half full or half empty! (I prefer to say the glass is full..of water, and air. Anyways ) In some cases and with some people its easier to conform and blend in with the groups opinion than it is to argue, even if its against our morals and values. Social control can play a huge part in conformity. Children should respect their parents and elders. Dont blow your nose in the dining room of a restaurant and definatelty dont kill anyone. These are all examples of deviance. Social control has a couple different ways of controlling deviance. Our social groups such as churches, families, workplace etc have all told us picking or blowing your nose at the dinner table is wrong. This Voluntary social control we know they are wrong and probably still dont do these things even if we are by our selves. The mental repercussion vs. the physical repercussion such as prison is far worse to the person and would ultimately do more damage mentally. When you do something because your gut says its the right or wrong thing to do is ultimately social control. When using you morals and values aka your voluntary control your less likely to conform to social influences. In return thinking things through with norms could lower crime rates if your taught or socialized right from wrong. Social control also stems to formal social control. This includes written norms or laws. These written laws can be punishable if you do not abide by them. Drug trafficking is severally frowned upon in society and is forbidden by the law. You could spend time in prison if the court decided you were guilty. Police officers, Sheriffs and Judges help enforce these written laws to keep society (half way) safe. Voluntary social control brings out the mental statement I did this. I made this happen. This statement could be said in a negative or positive way. College student makes an A on the final exam in statistics they could say, I did this. I made this happen. The negative statement could be a criminal in prison saying I did this. I made this happen. Both negative and positive takes the I position. Involuntary social control would bring out the other person did this or it was all bad luck. Wrong place wrong time. The reason I mentioned the Social control theory for conformity is because conformity could be good, bad, criminal or non criminal. Voluntary or Involuntary. Do we even know right from wrong. Maybe we could possibly lower crime rates by applying social control theory to certain crimes that allow us to dicifier a right and a wrong. Can laws be written in a sociological perspective to help crime rates? Honestly in my opinion probably not. Every person has a different set of morals and values that internally tell their guy they are making a good or bad decision. What might be deviant and criminal to me may not be to others or even other cultures. Most Americans do agree on the norms set and the deviant type behavior but not every person falls under the agree. Somebody will always think criminal activity is the only way to gain their American dream no matter what it takes. Their American dream may be to see their child smile on Christmas morning. Thats when the crime was worth the smile. Mostly I believe Americans just want to make somebody, or anybody proud and happy no matter the circumstances, or stigmas in the way. We will find a way to be happy. Even if its sacrificing the time left in your life to sit in prison for deviant criminal behavior.