Just Sociology

Crime in Late Modernity: The Impact of Social Change

As society and its institutions continually evolve, so does the nature of crime within it. The late modern society has been shaped by significant changes that have resulted from advances in technology, increasing globalization, and the restructuring of the economy.

This article explores the characteristics of the late modern society and analyzes the changes that have taken place since the so-called ‘

Golden Age of Modern Capitalist Society.’ Additionally, it focuses on how media-saturated society has influenced crime commission. The article then delves into strain theory and how it operates in the context of late modernity.

Finally, it evaluates Young’s extension of strain theory and the relevance of non-economic motives and emotions within this framework.

Characteristics of Late Modern Society

The characteristics of late modern society are instability, insecurity, exclusion, de-industrialization, unemployment, underemployment, poverty, and marginalization. This is in contrast to the

Golden Age of Modern Capitalist Society, which was characterized by stability, security, social inclusion, full employment, welfare state, low divorce rates, and strong communities.

Late modern society is marked by a sense of unease as traditional structures are eroded, leading to a loss of community spirit and growing feelings of isolation. This has led to increasing marginalization, which has created a fertile ground for the growth of criminal activity.

Golden Age of Modern Capitalist Society

During the

Golden Age of Modern Capitalist Society, there was a high level of full employment, access to the welfare state, low divorce rates, and strong communities. The society was characterized by stability and security, leading to an overall sense of social inclusion.

Criminal activities were typically confined to street crime, and law and order were maintained through cooperation between the police and the community.

Media Saturated Society

In media-saturated society, consumption, leisure activities, personal gratification, celebrity, success, and exclusion dominate. Technological advancements have expanded the scope of leisure activities, allowing individuals to consume ever-greater amounts of entertainment.

The rise of social media has democratized the so-called ‘cult of celebrity,’ leading to a view that success is paramount. These factors have contributed to a sense of exclusion among many, which can lead to the commission of crime as a means of acquiring the perceived trappings of success.

Merton’s Strain Theory

Merton’s strain theory posits that crime results from relative deprivation, frustration, anomie, and material goals. He posits that social structure sets standards of success, and individuals who cannot achieve them legitimately may resort to crime.

This theory suggests that crime is a reaction to the gulf between reality and expectations; those who experience relative deprivation may attempt to achieve the perceived norms of success through criminal activities. Young’s Extension of Strain Theory

Young’s extension of strain theory adds to Merton’s proposal by stating that the pressure to achieve success, celebrity, and wealth has spawned a new form of emotional release and that these are often found in extreme-subcultures or binge-drinking.

These cultures then become easy recruitment grounds for gangs and criminal groups; Young argues that the attraction of these groups is that they offer an alternative view of success that is achievable without conforming to societal norms. They offer membership, status, and purpose in a world that often alienates the youth.

Evaluation of Young’s Theory

Young’s theory highlights the importance of non-economic motives in the context of committing a crime. Emotions, status, and purpose have a role to play, complementing Merton’s perspective, which focuses on material inequality.

Young’s framework is valuable in explaining hate-crimes and violent behavior against marginal groups who appear to represent a supposed ‘threat’ to belonging, identity and success. However, it must be acknowledged that the rational choice theory can also apply to criminal decision-making because individuals with limited economic opportunities may turn to crime as an acceptable method to receive immediate financial satisfaction.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this article has analyzed the relationship between late modern society and crime. The

Golden Age of Modern Capitalist Society was characterized by full employment, welfare state, and strong communities, whereas the late modern society has been marked by instability, insecurity, and exclusion.

Strain theory provides a useful framework for understanding why crime is committed in late modernity. Young has extended Merton’s theory by highlighting the role of non-economic motives in criminal behavior.

However, rational choice theory cannot be completely disregarded, especially when considering economic inequalities. The importance of understanding crime and its motivations in late modernity cannot be understated.

An awareness of the complexities of the issue is a vital step in addressing it. In conclusion, this article has discussed the characteristics of late modern society and the impact it has had on crime commission.

Strain theory provides a useful framework for understanding crime in this context, while Young’s extension highlights the role of non-economic motives in criminal behavior. By understanding these complex issues, society can address the root causes of crime more effectively and work towards a safer and more equitable future.

FAQs:

1. What are the characteristics of late modern society that contribute to crime?

– instability, insecurity, exclusion, de-industrialisation, unemployment, underemployment, poverty, and marginalisation

2. What was the

Golden Age of Modern Capitalist Society?

– characterized by stability, security, social inclusion, full employment, welfare state, low divorce rates, and strong communities

3. What is strain theory?

– crime results from relative deprivation, frustration, anomie, and material goals; social structure sets standards of success, and individuals who cannot achieve them legitimately may resort to crime

4. How does Young’s extension of strain theory add to Merton’s proposal?

– the pressure to achieve success, celebrity, and wealth has spawned a new form of emotional release and can be found in extreme-subcultures or binge-drinking

5. Are non-economic motives important in the context of criminal behavior?

– Yes, Young’s framework highlights their role in explaining hate-crimes and violent behavior. However, rational choice theory cannot be completely disregarded.

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