Article

Social Threat and Social Control

David Eitle and Zachary Morgan-Edwards

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online April 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0122
Social Threat and Social Control

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For much of the latter part of the 20th century, social scientists have scrutinized the social control of crime. One focus has been on the role of extralegal factors such as race and social class in explaining the nature and distribution of various social-control efforts. A prominent explanation that incorporates issues of racial and economic stratification into an explanation of social control is social threat. Inspired by the conflict perspective and its emphasis on the use of state apparatuses, including the law and criminal justice institutions, to control subordinate groups who threaten the interests of dominant groups, social threat predicts that as racial and/or economically disadvantaged groups challenge the dominant group’s interests, both formal (e.g., arrests, imprisonments, executions, use of force) and informal (lynchings, hate crimes, interracial killings) social control mechanisms will be utilized to maintain the status quo. While the earliest studies examined the association between the relative size of the subordinate group and the use of various social-control mechanisms, recent research has been driven by more deliberate inquiry into the precise nature of the threat posed by the subordinate group. The nature of the threat, in terms of both its conceptualization and measurement, has varied considerably, including foci on such threats as economic competition, political mobilization, and even interracial crime. But while the nature of the threat and the particular subordinate group examined have inspired a number of different labels for this thesis, including racial threat, power threat, minority group threat, and realist conflict theory, these inquiries are united in examining an association between threat and social- control efforts.

Article.  10450 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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