Management Notes

Reference Notes for Management

Shaw and McKay found that crime is linked primarily to ________.

Shaw and McKay found that crime is linked primarily to ________.


a. power
b. master status
c. family values
d. wealth

The Correct Answer Is:

  • d. wealth

Shaw and McKay’s research, specifically their social disorganization theory, found that crime is primarily linked to factors related to the social environment and neighborhood conditions rather than individual characteristics like wealth, power, master status, or family values.

Let’s explore this in detail, including why the correct answer is “wealth” and why the other options are not suitable explanations for the primary linkage to crime.

d. Wealth (The Correct Answer):

Shaw and McKay’s social disorganization theory focuses on the impact of neighborhood and community characteristics on crime rates. According to their research, crime is primarily linked to the economic conditions of a neighborhood, and this is reflected in the “concentric zones” model, where they observed that crime rates were higher in inner-city areas characterized by poverty and economic disadvantage.

These neighborhoods often had limited economic opportunities and resources, which were associated with higher crime rates. In such areas, individuals might turn to crime as a means of economic survival or as a response to the lack of legitimate opportunities.

Shaw and McKay argued that the lack of economic resources in these disadvantaged areas led to social disorganization, making it difficult for community members to effectively control crime. This relationship between crime and wealth, or rather the lack of wealth, provides a strong foundation for the selection of “wealth” as the correct answer.

Now, let’s explore why the other options are not the primary link to crime according to Shaw and McKay’s research:

a. Power:

Power, in the context of Shaw and McKay’s theory, does not serve as the primary link to crime. While power dynamics and social hierarchies may influence certain aspects of criminal behavior, such as white-collar crime or corruption, Shaw and McKay’s theory emphasizes the significance of the neighborhood’s economic conditions.

Power may affect the enforcement of laws or the application of justice, but it is not the primary factor driving crime rates in their framework.

b. Master Status:

Master status refers to a person’s most important social identity or role, which can influence how they are perceived by society and how they perceive themselves. Shaw and McKay’s theory primarily focuses on structural and environmental factors rather than individual characteristics such as master status.

While a person’s master status may influence their opportunities and interactions in society, it is not the core factor that Shaw and McKay identified as the primary link to crime. Their theory emphasizes the collective impact of neighborhood conditions on crime rates, rather than individual characteristics.

c. Family Values:

Family values are an important aspect of individuals’ lives, but Shaw and McKay’s social disorganization theory doesn’t attribute crime primarily to family values. Instead, it underscores the significance of the neighborhood’s economic and social structure in shaping criminal behavior.

In areas characterized by economic disadvantage and social disorganization, the breakdown of community bonds and social controls may lead to higher crime rates, irrespective of the values held by individual families. While family values can influence individual behaviors, they are not the central focus of this theory.

In summary, Shaw and McKay’s social disorganization theory underscores the strong association between crime and economic conditions, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Their research suggests that wealth, or the lack thereof, is the primary factor linked to crime, as economic disadvantage can lead to a breakdown in social controls and an increase in criminal activity within these communities.

While other factors like power, master status, and family values may play a role in understanding crime, they do not take precedence over the economic conditions of neighborhoods, as indicated by their groundbreaking research.

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