4.6 Agency explanations: rational choice theory

The work of the Chicago School, despite the potential pitfalls of participant observation, does demonstrate that if you want to know why people commit crimes it makes sense to ask them. In his memoir of a criminal career in the early twentieth century entitled Jail Journey, Jim Phelan wrote:

The robber is a tradesman who, from economics or other motivation, chooses a trade with greater rewards and dangers th
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4.5 Structural explanations III: cultures

An early and influential body of research by the Chicago School of sociology explained criminal behaviour in terms of cultural structures. The school studied American male juvenile delinquents – or young offenders – in inter-war American cities (Shaw and McKay, 1969). Here we use the term culture to describe the web of meanings and values that individuals live their life within. (Recall from Section 1.1 how important every-day norms and conventions were in defining the meaning of c
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4.1 Exploring the claims about crime

The claims of the common-sense story of crime that we unearthed in Section 3 were, broadly speaking, about the start of the story (how things were then) and the end of the story (how things are now). But most stories have a middle. A middle that gets you from the beginning to the end, that explains how one state of affairs is transformed into another. The former claims are primarily descriptive. The claim in the middle would be explanatory. It would need to address questions lik
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2.2 A society frightened by crime?

We do not have to look too far to find someone saying that the UK is a society gripped by rising levels of crime, anti-social behaviour and incivility; or that disorder threatens social stability. The criminologist Robert Reiner suggests that ‘in the last 40 years, we have got used to thinking of crime, like the weather and pop music, as something that is always getting worse’ (Reiner, 1996, p. 3). So who is telling this story?

Most of us will have heard older family members and fri
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Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • give a definition of crime (in terms of society);

  • state the steps and factors that lead from a crime to conviction;

  • illustrate how society views crime ‘with fear and fascination’;

  • give examples of the relationship between crime rates and the evidence to support these claims.


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Introduction

‘Tough on the causes of crime.’ A famous phrase, but what is crime? This unit examines how we as a ‘society’ define crime. You will look at the fear that is generated within communities and what evidence is available to support claims that are made about crime rates.

This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Introducing the social sciences (DD100) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish t
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1.1 They think it's all over

They think it's all over … it is now!

(Kenneth Wolstenholme, 1966)

This is one of those iconic sporting media moments. It happened a long time ago, when Geoff Hurst's third goal in the dying seconds of extra time clinched England's 4–2 win over Germany in the 1966 football World Cup final. People who were not even born, let alone at Wembley or watching the game on television, still reco
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • explore the relationship between sport and the media and understand that this is a social relationship;

  • understand how sport is part of wider cultural relations and, especially of popular culture;

  • look at how the media create sporting heroes through the stories they tell.


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Introduction

The media play a huge part in sport; we find out what's happening, how our team is doing and it creates great sporting moments and sports celebrities and stars. This unit looks at the role played by the media in sport and how this has changed with the development of internet and satellite TV. Who calls the shots – athletes, teams or the media moguls? How do social scientists explain this relationship between sport and the media?

This material is from our archive and is an adapted extr
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References

Abernathy, W.J., Clark, K. and Kantrow, A. (1983) Industrial Renaissance: Producing a Competitive Future for America, Basic Books, New York.
Berndt, E.R. and Rappaport, N. (2000) ‘Price and quality of desktop and mobile personal computers: a quarter century of history’, paper presented at the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Summer Institute 2000 session on ‘Price, Output and Productivity Measure
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5 Conclusion

This chapter has enabled you to think about the essential role of technological change in determining economy-wide growth and the growth of firms and industries. We have seen that many issues surrounding the new economy are really issues around the dynamics of technological change: rapid increases in productivity, the emergence of many small firms, new products and new processes, and so on. The main lesson of the unit has been to provide a historical perspective to the introduction of new tec
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Introduction

This unit takes one aspect of the debate concerning the new economy – innovation in the form of the introduction of information and communication technologies – and places it in the historical context of industrial revolutions. Is the new economy really new or ‘just another’ industrial revolution?

This unit is an adapted extract from the course Economics and economic change (
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Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • identify criteria to evaluate the politics of racial violence.


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Introduction

The material presented here focuses on the politics of racial violence in Britain. The material is an audio file, originally 30 minutes in length, and examines the issues around this subject. It was recorded in 1995.

This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Crime, order and social control (D315) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this Author(s): The Open University

Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able:

  • define social construction and social constructionism.


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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions). This content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

This extract is taken from D218: Social policy: welfare, power and diversity, produced by the BBC on behalf of the Open University.
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able:

  • identify the value and best way of note taking.


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1.3.4 Databases

At a basic level, a database is a collection of information which can be searched. It is a way of storing, indexing, organising and retrieving information. You may have created one yourself to keep track of your references – or your friends' names and addresses. They are useful for finding articles on a topic, and can be used to search for many different types of information.

You may find some of the following databases useful for your topic. They contain different types of informatio
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1.3.1 Introduction

You can find a lot of information about society on the internet.

To find this information you might choose to use:

  • internet resources;

  • search engines and subject gateways;

  • books and electronic books;

  • databases;

  • journals;

  • encyclopedias.


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1 Poverty in Scotland

Poverty in Scotland 2011 provides a detailed overview of poverty and anti-poverty policies in Scotland. It provides a comprehensive account of the state of poverty in Scotland, highlighting the main trends and the impact poverty has on people and places.

This unit comprises a PDF document produced originally by Child Poverty Action Group, in association with Glasgow Caledonian University, The Open University and Poverty Alliance.

Poverty in Scotland, (250 pages, 789 KB)


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