(these ideas drawn from Goode, 1994-2008 chapter 4; and Pfohl, Images of Deviance and Social Control, 1985. See the disclaimer)
Conflict theory: as a powerless group should expect to see female participation in street crimes to be higher, but?
Attempt to explain differential rates of deviance related to gender and social class.
Hagan's view is that crime and delinquency rates are a function of two factors: (1) class position (power) and (2) family function (control). The link between these two variables is that within the family, parents reproduce the power relationships they hold in the workplace. (Siegel, 1992: 269)
Parent's class position, as defined through their work experiences, influences the delinquent behavior of their children. When fathers occupy the traditional role of sole breadwinner and mothers have only menial jobs or remain at home to handle domestic affairs, the paternalistic or patriarchal family is indicated. Here the father's experience of control over others or being controlled is reproduced in the household. His focus is directed outward towards his instrumental responsibilities, while the mother is left in charge of the children, especially their daughters. Sons are granted greater freedom as they are prepared for the traditional male role symbolized by their fathers. Daughters are socialized into the cult of domesticity under the close supervision of their mothers, preparing them for lives oriented towards domestic labor and consumption; while sons are encouraged and allowed to "experiment" and take risks. Daughters in this scenario are closely monitored so that participation in deviant or delinquent activity is unlikely.
The egalitarian family is characterized by little difference between the mother's and father's work roles, so that responsibility for child rearing is shared. Here neither child receives the close supervision present over females in the paternalistic family. Middle class aspirations and values dominate: mobility, success, autonomy, and risk taking. Daughter's deviance now mirrors their brother's. This pattern seems to hold true for single parent (female-headed) households; even within the working/lower class. Here, without the presence of the father, the mother's supervision over her children is not as intense as in the paternalistic family and, in fact, children of both sexes may be encouraged to experiment with risk taking, instrumental roles. In either case, the argument suggests:
"...middle-class girls are the most likely to violate the law because they are less closely controlled than their lower-class counterparts. And in homes where both parents hold positions of power, girls are more likely to have the same expectations of career success as their brothers. Consequently, siblings of both sexes will be socialized to take risks and engage in other behavior related to delinquency. Power-control theory, then, implies that middle-class youth of both sexes will have higher crime rates than their lower-class peers." (Siegel, 1992:270)
Hagan's theory has been criticized as being basically a fairly straightforward adaptation of the "liberation hypothesis," as females experience upward mobility and status change, their access to deviant and illicit behaviors expand. Morash and Chesney-Lind (1989, 1991) argue that a better explanation of female deviance, especially their lower rates of participation, would focus on nurturing relationship developed during socialization, leading them towards more prosocial behaviors. Female deviance becomes a product of the "sexual scripts" within patriarchal families that make it more likely for them to become the victims of both sexual and physical abuse. If they run away, the juvenile court supports parental rights and returns them to the home, persistent violations lead to incarceration and future trouble as official delinquents/deviants or life on the street where survival depends on involvement in crime.
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Last Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2008 2:46 PM