Disrupted families - Farrington

Learning from others - Sutherland 

Poverty and disadvantaged neighbourhoods - Wikstrom and Tafel

  • Created by: Amy Leech
  • Created on: 17-03-13 14:52

Farrington; Cambridge study in delinquent developm

Aim: This research seeks to document the start, duration and end of offendning behaviour; to identify risk and protective factors and the influence of family background on offending, and to advance knowledge about conviction careers up to the age of 50.

Sample: 411 boys, aged 8-9 from six East London state schools; 87% white, mainly working class and of British origin.

Method: A longitudinal survey with data gathered from interviews and criminal records data.

Interviews were conducted at i) at school at age 8,10,14; ii) in research office at age 16,18,21; iii) in homes at 25,32,48.

At the age of 48, 394 males were still alive and 365 (93%) were interviewed. Parental interviews conducted when boys ahed 8-14/15. Teachers completed questionnaires when boys were aged 8,10,12 and 14.

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Farrington; Cambridge study in delinquent developm

Results: 41% were convicted for standard offences between 10 and 50 years of age witht he average conviction career lasting from age 19-28 with the average of 5 convictions. Most important childhood risk factors for later offending were measures of family criminality, daring/risk-taking, poor school attainment, poverty, poor parenting. Chronic offenders commit over 50% of officially recorded offences and share commonalities for example more likely to have a convicted parent, young mother, low popularity, disrupted family. Desisters no different in 'life success' measures from unconvicted.

Evaluation: As most prolific offenders start early, suggests 10 year olds should be targeted. A large sample was used with some subject attrition, but can still be considered reliable. Self-reports from interview are liable to socially desirable responses/lying which would affect validity. More objective data from official records.Longitudinal study allows for development over time to be identified which could make it more reliable than a snapshop study. Main risk factors can illustrate understanding of the nurture debate. Very useful to target resources. Social determinism is a big debate. Psychodynamic perspective can be applied - early experiences may affect later life. Behaviourist perspective can be applied - observation may result in imitation.

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Sutherland; theory of differential association

This theory, summarised in a book, comprises of 9 principles, including:

1- The more an individual associates with criminals, compared to time associating with non-criminals, the more likely it is that an individual will offend - this is differential association.

2- Criminal behaviour is learned. (Not inherited or resulting from a biological condition)

3- It is learned in interaction with others. ('Social learning')

4- The largest influence on criminal behaviour is intimate personal groups (family, friends/peers)  - Sutherland considered the influence of media unimportant.

5- Learning  includes techniques involved in commission of crime as well as attitudes/beliefs.

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Sutherland; theory of differential association

Evaluation: This theory needs rigorous testinf in order to establish its credibility/usefulness however it is very difficult to test. Sutherland's discounting the influence of the medical indicates that his theory is out of date in modern society. 

The behaviourist perspective can be applied - it can be illustrated/ evidenced by Sutherland's assertion that criminal behaviour is learned, and learned in interaction with others in intimate personal groups. From this we can infer imitation.

This theory could be said to be reductionist as it doesn't take into account influences of the media and technology. Intimate personal groups could be considered as social determinants of offending; however, individuals have free will.

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Wikstrom and Tajfel; The peterborough youth study

Background/Aim: This is one of a series of longitudinal studies of Social Contexts of Pathways into Crime and it set out to test a range of factors (poverty, disadvantage, substance abuse, etc.) and to identify which were the most significant predictors of criminal behaviour ( and to investigate the interaction between individual life-style ris and its influence on offending).

Sample: 1957, 14-15 year olds from 13 state schools in the Peterborough area.

Method: Cross-sectional, snapshot study. the questionnaire study, followed up by a random sample of 339 who were interviewed about a week's activities which they had logged. Data on neighbourhood disadvantage obtained from the 1991 census.

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Wikstrom and Tajfel; The peterborough youth study

Results: 45% of males and 31% of females have committed at least one of studied crimes. 10% of males and 4% of females have committed serious crimes. Offenders more often drunk/use drugs than non-offenders. Risk factors which strongly affected involvement in crime are a) individual characteristics (poor self-control, antisocial values) categorised as 'propensity- induced' offenders and b) lifestyles (high risk spend a lot of time with peers in public settings, using drugs), categorised as 'lifestyle dependent'. Protective factors include strong family and school bonds with good parenting monitoring.

Evaluation: A large, reliable sample is used however its age and geographically specific; however targeting this age group is approriate given early onset of offending. Self-reports liable to socially desirable responses/lying which questions validity. As the study investigates a wide range of factors its more holistic in its approach however as it doesn't investigate biological factors it is still somewhat reductionist. The research can be seen as very useful for identifying predictive factors for offending behaviour, although this risks 'labelling'. and the dangers of a self fulfilling prophecy. Nurture/ social determinism influences on criminal activity.

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