Deviant Behavior and Societal Reaction
This chapter is concerned with informal social control—the reactions of family, friends, and acquaintances to rule violations by individuals. Informal controls are probably the major influence on an individual's behavior. The chapter suggests that crime rates are higher for lower-class persons because they do not have access to nondeviant means of economic success. It also suggests that crime rates are higher among lower-class persons because they are more likely to be arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty, even though the underlying rate of deviant activity may not vary as a function of social class. Violations of societal norms may subject a person to action by formal agencies of control, such as the police or the courts. Anomie theory directs psychologists' attention to the importance of social class. Because lower-class members are more frequently excluded from quality education and jobs, the theory predicts that they will commit more crimes.