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Sociological Perspectives of High Crime Rates within Black Neighborhoods

Sociological Perspectives of High Crime Rates within Black Neighborhoods

Sample Answer 

Sociological Perspectives of High Crime Rates within Black Neighborhoods

Different sociological theories have various explanations for the same societal phenomenon. One such phenomenon is the concentration of crime in low socio-economic status racial minority communities. Sociological theories, including symbolic interactionism, functionalist theory, and conflict theory, provide different sociological points of view for understanding the higher rates of crime among the socio-economically underprivileged racial minorities in the US, such as Blacks and Latinos.

The conflict theory claims that society maintains order through a system of domination and assertion of power. According to the theory, the dominant group uses the power resulting from greater access to resources to maintain its status. The unequal distribution of societal resources creates a state of constant tension (Stepnisky, 2018). This tension is a reaction against resource inequality and the assertive power practices of the dominant group in society.

Based on the conflict theory, the high prevalence of crime among underprivileged, predominantly black neighborhoods can be considered a reaction of this minority community to the limited economic resources and opportunities (Downes et al., 2016). It represents the community’s attempt to increase its access to resources. On the other hand, the high prevalence of crime can also be perceived as a domination tool utilized by the dominant ethno-racial groups, such as the white majority (Downes et al., 2016). The dominant group makes legislations that condition and attribute crime to the characteristics of the minority group, such as race and socio-economic status. Indeed, the racial composition of neighborhoods has been shown to influence law enforcement policies and practices (Gaston, S., 2019). Imaginably, the Black Lives Matter movement is the culmination of the engendered legal criminalization of members of the black race due to laws created through hegemonic systems.

Similarly, symbolic interactionism argues that society is both a natural and symbolic environment. According to the theory, people adopt and conform to the subjective meanings of societal phenomena. These meanings emerge and are transmitted during social interactions (Stepnisky, 2018). Underlying this theory is the belief that the subjective interpretation of the phenomena in society by individuals has a greater impact on their behavior than the objective realities of these social experiences (Downes et al., 2016; Stepnisky, 2018).

Based on this theory, the increased rates of crime in racial minority neighborhoods result from the translation of criminal labels of individuals living in these areas. During their interaction with members of the outgroup communities, members of the minority and underprivileged communities internalize and conceive themselves based on criminal tags and stereotypes held by other ethno-racial communities (Smiley & Fakunle, 2016). Alternatively, non-deviant individuals may adopt criminal behaviors because they live in a crime-ridden neighborhood and interact with individuals whose behaviors are considered criminal. This encourages them to perceive criminal behavior positively (Downes et al., 2016).

The functionalist theory perceives society as a structure consisting of interrelated and complementary components such as social norms and institutions. Societal order and stability depend on the integrity of these components and their capacity to relate reciprocally with each other (Stepnisky, 2018). Discord arises when various social institutions fail to operate in concert (Downes et al., 2016). As such, the disorder is simply a sign of the absence of integration between societal institutions.

The functionalist theory explains the high prevalence of crime in minority neighborhoods as a consequence of the absence or inadequacy of social norms that guide members of these communities to pursue socio-economic goals in agreeable ways. Alternatively, unlike other communities with lower crime rates, the higher crime rates in poor neighborhoods result from incompetent deterrent social bonds between members of these communities (Downes et al., 2016). Predictably, this results in a low capacity for pro-social orientation and a high likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior.

Sociological theories enable societal phenomena to be perceived through various sociological worldviews. Based on the varying positions of the theories on the reason for the higher prevalence of crime within racial minority neighborhoods, no single theory can sufficiently define a phenomenon. Instead, the theories provide the frameworks for considering the different dimensions of societal realities.


Downes, D., Rock, P. E., & McLaughlin, E. (2016). Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. Oxford University Press.

Gaston, S. (2019). Enforcing race: A neighborhood-level explanation of Black–White differences in drug arrests. Crime & Delinquency65(4), 499-526.

Smiley, C., & Fakunle, D. (2016). From “brute” to “thug:” The demonization and criminalization of unarmed Black male victims in America. Journal of human behavior in the social environment26(3-4), 350-366.

Stepnisky, J. (2018). Types of Sociological Theory. Core Concepts in Sociology, 295.


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Sociological Perspectives of High Crime Rates within Black Neighborhoods

Module 1 – Case


Assignment Overview
This writing assignment explores different facets of the sociological perspective and allows you to understand different theoretical approaches in sociology.

Case Assignment

Sociological Perspectives of High Crime Rates within Black Neighborhoods

Sociological Perspectives of High Crime Rates within Black Neighborhoods

  • Theories in Sociology


  1. Discuss the origins of sociology and the key thought leaders who shaped the field
  2. Define what is meant by the sociological perspective
  3. Write a 2- to 3-page response to the following statement:
    • Different sociological theories can have various explanations for the same phenomenon.
    • Consider crime rates in the United States. Try to think how three sociological theories—symbolic interactionism, functionalist theory, and conflict theory—would explain the kind, distribution, or changing crime rates in the US.

In your response, make sure you have an introduction, at least two paragraphs per theory, and a conclusion.

Assignment Expectations

Be sure to review the background materials and do some research on your own. All statements should be supported. Provide at least three citations in the paper and include a reference list. Use APA style, and proofread your paper. The completed paper should be submitted to the Case 1 dropbox. I would like to talk about or include Black lives Matter in this paper

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