48 J. Crim. L. Criminology & Police Sci. 12 (1957-1958)
Social Disorganization and Stake in Conformity: Complementary Factors in the Predatory Behavior of Hoodlums

handle is hein.journals/jclc48 and id is 22 raw text is: SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION AND STAKE IN CONFORMITY:
The author is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University and the
holder of a Faculty Fellowship of the Social Science Research Council. He was during
1955, Co-Director of the Conference on Juvenile Delinquency in New Jersey con-
ducted by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs of Prince-
ton University. His Ph.D. Dissertation, Educational Maladjustment as a Predis-
posing Factor in Criminal Careers: A Comparative Study of Ethnic Groups, Harvard,
1950, contains a more extensive discussion of some of the points raised in this article.-
The American standard of living is one of the highest of any nation, yet burglary,
robbery, car theft, and other forms of larceny are frequent. These predatory crimes
are, as a matter of fact, much more numerous than crimes against the person such
as murder, rape, and aggravated assault. Furthermore, and this accentuates the para-
dox, in the United States a thief who steals because he is hungry or cold is a rarity.
Why should so much stealing occur in a rich country? The age and socio-economic
status of arrested offenders provide some clues. American thieves are usually young
hoodlums from slum neighborhoods. An explanation of their youth and neighbor-
hood of residence is that people are more prone to act upon'their anti-social impulses
when external controls over them are weak. Thus, one reason why adolescents are ar-
rested more often than older or younger people is that adolescents are less likely
to be under the influence of a family unit; they are becoming emancipated from the
family into which they were born but have not yet married and got involved in a new
family unit. Similarly, slum dwellers commit more thefts than suburbanites because
stealing is not universally frowned on in deteriorated neighborhoods as it is in wealth-
ier communities.' In short, predatory crime occurs when social vigilance is reduced.
Case histories of hoodlum type thieves generally support the social disorganiza-
tion explanation of stealing. Commonly, the street-corner rowdy grew up in a chaotic
household. His parents exercised ineffectual control over him, not necessarily be-
cause of indifference, but because they were overwhelmed by their own difficulties:
chronic warfare in the household; death, desertion, or serious illness of the bread-
winner; mental deficiency or disease; alcoholism; gambling; promiscuity; too many
children for an unskilled father to support or a harried mother to supervise. Such
problems not only reduce the effectiveness of parental control. By curtailing income
I It is of course possible to question these statements about the real incidence of stealing be-
havior. Data exist for arrested persons but not for offenders who eluded the police. WALTER RECK-
LESS, for example, speaks only of categoric risks in crime, and thereby avoids the danger of
unwarranted inferences. See his text. TI CRIsM PROBLEM, 2nd ed., New York: Appleton-Century-
Crofts, 1955, pp. 26-42.

What Is HeinOnline?

With comprehensive coverage of government documents and more than 2,400 journals from inception on hundreds of subjects such as political science, criminal justice, and human rights, HeinOnline is an affordable option for colleges and universities. Documents have the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?