SOCW 6135: Comparing Sociological Theories

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Assignment: Comparing Sociological Theories

As a helping professional, understanding social disorganization theory, social conflict theory, and rational choice theory as three contemporary perspectives on the causes of criminal behavior are essential. Social disorganization theory—such as purported by the Chicago School, which you read about in Week 2—views crime as being a product of neighborhoods and communities that have broken down and are characterized by weak cultural and structural norms, absence of law and order, and high levels of poverty. Social conflict theory assigns the cause of crime to conflict between competing social groups, such as the affluent and the working poor. Rational choice theory emphasizes the decision-making process of criminals and aims to prevent crime by making criminal behavior less attractive and valuable.

Each sociological theory outlined here has strengths and limitations. Applying these theories is likely to yield diverse explanations for the causes of criminal behavior.

For this Assignment, review the article, “The Role of Attenuated Culture in Social Disorganization Theory” and consider the principles of disorganization theory, paying particular attention to various aspects of the theory as explanations for criminal behavior. Then, search the Internet and select peer-reviewed articles that address social conflict theory, social disorganization theory, and rational choice theory.

Assignment (2–3 pages):

  • Briefly describe social conflict theory, social disorganization theory, and rational choice theory.
  • Compare (similarities and differences) social conflict theory, social disorganization theory, and rational choice theory, using specific examples in your comparison.
  • Based on your comparison, describe at least one insight or conclusion you might draw.
  • Use the resources from your research to support your findings.

Support your Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the resources for this course.

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