ERIC Number: ED289750
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Crime and American Culture. Ethics and Public Policy Essay #43.
Wilson, James Q.
The great waves of foreign immigration, the onset of rapid industrialization, the emergence of an urban working class--all features of the post Civil War United States that might have contributed to rising crime rates--did not. Ted Robert Gurr suggests that a growth of the "civilizing process" occurred in which people turned away from violence and internalized or displaced aggressive impulses. The process began among upper socio-economic groups and was given institutional expression in various reform movements. Beginning in the 1920s, the educated classes in America repudiated moral improvement as it had been defined during the preceding century. Child rearing views began to change in the 1920s. Character development was replaced with personality development. By the 1960s, the baby boom generation had come of age. The psychology of radical individualism and the philosophy of individual rights triumphed. The factors that most directly influence crime (family structure, moral development, the level of personal freedom) are the very things that U.S. citizens do not easily change or, for persuasive reasons, do not wish to change. Law becomes more important as informal social control becomes less important. Thousands of neighborhood organizations and civic enterprises have emerged from a desire to reduce crime by direct popular action. This recourse to informal communal action has grown out of a reaffirmed allegiance to a communal theory of social control. (SM)
Descriptors: Crime, Crime Prevention, Criminal Law, Criminals, Cultural Differences, Cultural Influences, Cultural Pluralism, Cultural Traits, Culture, Culture Conflict, Law Enforcement, Law Related Education, Moral Values, United States History
University Press of America, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706 ($5.00).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, DC.