INDEX


Blog Post 1 :Welcome to Sociologystuff.com

Blog Post 2 :Toxic masculinity

Blog Post 3: How does Emile Durkheim explain crime and deviance?

Blog Post 4: Jacques Peretti on the rise of the Super-Rich

Blog Post 5: Why inequality has widened to record levels over the last forty years

Blog Post 6: Criminogenic capitalism

Blog Post 7: Cloward and Ohlin's Illegitimate opportunity structure theory

Blog Post 8: White-collar crime

Blog Post 9: Marketisation and Privatisation: The Great Education Swindle

Blog Post 10: Corporate crime: the corporation as institutional psychopath

Blog Post 11: Some Thoughts on Green Crime

Blog Post 12: Is James Bond a State-Sponsored Murderer? - arguments about state crime

Blog Post 13: Some Observations on the Increasingly Globalised Nature of Crime

Blog Post 14: Some Observations on Labelling Theory

Blog Post 15: Evaluating Labelling Theory's Approach to Crime and Deviance

Blog Post 18: Some observations, advice and guidance for the OCR H580/3 exam

Blog post 16: African-Caribbean dads and families in the UK

Some of you will have seen the recent Twitterstorm regarding comments made in a GCSE textbook about African-Caribbean fathers and families. Foolishly perhaps, I have decided to contribute to this debate because I feel that the authors -Owens and Woodfield - were unfairly criticised as 'racist' and 'imperialist'. I do not believe that they deserve to be branded as such. They were attempting to describe an aspect of family diversity which is sparse in terms of research and statistics and were probably under great pressure to limit what they said to a few hundred words. I think the blame lies with the Exam Board - AQA - and the book's editor who should have spotted potential problems with the generalities that the notorious paragraphs contained. AQA said that GCSE students did not have to study Caribbean families which is true but their specification does say that families need to be studied in a 'global context' so I can understand the pressure to do that by referencing Caribbean families. Sadly, however, although there is sociological reference to Caribbean matrifocal families, the references are over fifty years old and probably no longer relevant to contemporary family life in Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados or St. Kitts.
However this blog is going to focus on family diversity in the UK and the difficulties we have in making generalisations about Black Caribbean fathers and families in the UK. So what are the facts? The main statistics we have come from the 2011 Census although there are also more recent updates on the ONS website. The Fatherhood Institute website - www. fatherhoodinstitute.org - is worth checking out too for reasonably up-to-date studies. It is a FACT (not fake news OR a racist statement) that the African-Caribbean community in the UK has a higher proportion of one-parent families amongst its population compared with say, the Asian or White population. However we need to qualify this statement by pointing out that the main variable or cause is not race or culture but poverty and deprivation. A closer look at the statistics shows that families in poverty (whether they are White or Black) are more likely than families in which mum and dad are both in work to be single-parent families.
One of the big problems for sociology textbook writers is that the research on Black-Caribbean families living in the UK is both thin on the ground and fairly dated. Much of the bulk of the available research which we still see cited in textbooks is nearly 20 years old. For example, Richard Berthoud's seminal research was published in 2003 whilst Chamberlain and Golbourne's research on single mothers in Leeds was carried out in 1997/98. These classic studies also focused on quite small samples and were probably unrepresentative in that the samples contained a disproportionate number of single mothers living on economically deprived council estates. in other words, such families were probably not representative of African-Caribbean parents or family life as it was lived in the UK in this period.
Both Chamberlain and Berthoud interviewed African-Caribbean single mothers and concluded that those women who became pregnant to an African-Caribbean man often applied a cost-benefit analysis to their situation.
Chamberlain argued that these women often made the rational decision to live independently from the African-Caribbean fathers of their children. Berthoud agreed and argued that because Black women were more likely to be in employment than Black men that they saw the benefit of remaining single and independent rather than opting for marriage. Berthoud termed this approach - 'modern individualism' - and claimed that it arose because Black women felt that if they married or moved in with the father of their child, that the cost of being ultimately financially responsible for two dependents (their child and their child's father) - would be too great. Chamberlain argued that a more attractive and beneficial proposition was to raise the child alone with the assistance of extended kin, friends (or 'fictive kin'- symbolic aunts and uncles).
However, this research has dated quite badly because the demographics of marriage over the course of the last 20 years has undergone significant change. Jennifer Platt's research into marriage demonstrates that it is more likely that in 2018 that both African-Caribbean males and females marry outside their ethnic group. Dual heritage children from inter-racial marriages between Whites and Caribbean people are now the fastest growing group of children in the UK.
Moreover recent research by Hunt (2009) indicates that African-Caribbean fathers are twice as likely as white fathers and three times as likely as Asian fathers to be living apart from their children. High rates of non-resident fatherhood are also found where children are of mixed-heritage.
HOWEVER - we need to exercise caution when we consider the implications of these findings. Firstly, the non-residence of black dads is caused by much the same set of factors that result in some white dads moving out of the family home -low economic status, unemployment, lack of education and so on, although there is some evidence that black males are also more likely to experience institutional racism which further handicaps their capacity to be regular fathers, for example, when applying for jobs. There is evidence too that Caribbean males experience discrimination within the education system which may negatively impact on their opportunity to accumulate qualifications, and therefore compete equally with other social groups in the job market. Moreover the institutional racism experienced by young Black men in the criminal justice system is well documented. Secondly, racism, especially in right-wing media reporting and representations of ethnic minorities has produced racist stereotypes of young black men as ' irresponsible' fathers or as uninvolved in their children's upbringing. These stereotypes and representations were particularly influential in the 1990s when New Right commentators such as Charles Murray, David Marsland and Norman Dennis, and British Conservative politicians accused young black men of being feckless, lazy and uncommitted to family values. A common stereotype was the notion of the 'baby father' - young black men were portrayed as only interested in having serial sexual relationships and consequently failing to take responsibility for the children they had fathered by the two or three women they were supposedly sleeping with. This stereotype was so widely accepted that it spawned a successful BBC2 drama series - Baby Father - based on a series of novels by Patrick Augustus which focused on the 'difficulties' Black men supposedly felt with coming to terms with parenthood. Newspapers such as the Daily Mail too jumped on this bandwagon and accused black males such as the boxer Lennox Lewis for failing to financially support the children he'd allegedly had with several women.
However, this concern with the alleged parental failing of young black men also influenced left-wing sociologists. For example, Tony Sewell, who is of African-Caribbean descent claimed absent fathers were one of the three reasons - the triple quandary - why Black boys were more likely than boys from other social groups to educationally underachieve or to be excluded from secondary school. Sewell claimed that the lack of positive male role models in the home in the form of fathers forced black boys to look for adult role models in their immediate community but these tended to be deviant, hence, the reasons why they were allegedly always in trouble or 'easily' recruited by territorial street gangs.
Thirdly, such stereotyping is driving the false presumption that black men are 'absent' fathers and play little or no role in their children's lives. However recent research by Kiernan and Mensah (2010) demonstrates that living apart from children does not necessarily mean that Black Caribbean fathers are absent from parenting responsibilities. Kiernan and Mensah found that at the time of their baby's birth, four out of five Black Caribbean mothers were in a close relationship with the father of their child even when they were living in separate households. They also found that by the time of their child's 5th birthday two out of three black mothers who were officially classed as 'lone mothers' had a 'stable' relationship with the father of their children and consequently he played a prominent role in their children's lives. Research by Reynolds (2009) also demonstrates that fathers from African-Caribbean backgrounds who live separately from the mothers of their children play a 'substantial' role in their children's lives in terms of both financial and emotional input. The Father's Institute concludes that the stereotyping of black fathers as 'absent' is unfair and possibly ethnocentric. It points out that there is little qualitative difference in the time black fathers spend with their children compared with white fathers who were separated or divorced from the mother of their children. The Institute concludes that the main obstacle for nor being able to get involved in the upbringing of children if the father lives elsewhere (and this was much the same for both black and white fathers) was poverty underpinned by unemployment, precarious insecure low-paid work in the gig economy and poor housing. These social factors sometimes prevented fathers, both black and white, from regularly seeing their children because such deprivation had led to feelings of shame (at not being able to 'properly' support their families) , poor mental health and sometimes the need to travel or move elsewhere in order to find work









Blog Post 15: Evaluating Labelling Theory's Approach to Crime and Deviance

07/02/18

Evaluation is a really important skill at A-level especially in the second year. Most students think it is about criticism but at this level it is about identifying the strengths of theories too. Exam questions on interactionism are quite popular so I recommend you get to know the theory and its evaluation pretty well...



Blog Post 14: Some Observations on Labelling Theory

06/02/18

Here are some observations on the interactionist theory of crime and deviance, otherwise known as labelling theory which is part of the Social Action approach to explaining society. It is a very popular option as far as the examiners are concerned - they love asking questions about it, so you need to know it well. In my view, the theory can be boiled down to three parts (1) What is deviance (and therefore crime)?;(2) Why are some people more likely to be labelled or stereotyped as criminals?; (3) What are the consequences for both the individual and society of this negative labelling?




Blog Post 13: Some Observations on the Increasingly Globalised Nature of Crime

04/02/18

This is a relatively new area for criminologists (and politicians and police forces) because globalisation and therefore global crime has only really taken off in the last 30 years. There are several reasons why crime has become a global phenomenon. Air travel and tourism have become cheaper (therefore making it profitable and easier to smuggle illegal products like drugs) across borders; New information and digital communication technologies such as the internet, e-mail and the cheap availability of mobile burner phones have made it easier for international criminals and terrorists to communicate with one another and to set up, for example, illegal businesses such as porn sites which can be accessed via the internet in the West...



Blog Post 12: Is James Bond a State-Sponsored Murderer? - arguments about state crime

What have the actors, Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore all got in common? They have, of course, played Commander James Bond 007, a MI6 agent who is sent out into the world by Britain’s SIS (Secret Intelligent Service) to kill the enemies of the British State. A recent survey of the 26 Bond films found that Bond has killed or should we say ‘executed’ or ‘murdered’ 370 people on direct orders from his bosses despite the fact that Britain no longer practices the death penalty. In essence, James Bond is a state-sponsored killer...



Blog Post 11: Some Thoughts on Green Crime

Brisman and South (2017) point out that the ‘present global financial system depends on the exploitation of resources in order to maintain growth in production and consumption’ (p329). If you are a consumer, lets say, of a smart phone or anything that comes wrapped in plastic packaging, Brisman and Smith observe that your demand for manufactured products comes at great cost in terms of levels of pollution and waste that are ‘noticeably damaging ecosystems and even changing the climate of the planet’. For example, if you have recently updated your smartphone, have you ever given any thought to the disposal of your old one? Most phone companies send your old phones to recycling plants in Africa and China although as Annie Leonard points out, workers in these parts of the world often dismantle electronics’ harmful insides without proper personal or environmental protection....



Blog Post 10: Corporate crime: the corporation as institutional psychopath

26/01/18
Steve Tombs in a recent tweet notes that ‘crime is routine and ubiquitous in neo-liberal capitalism’. This article which aims to focus on corporate crime intends to take Tombs’ observation one step further using the work of Joel Bakan (embodied in his book and documentary film‘The Corporation’) and to argue that the harms to people and the environment caused by corporations and the crimes they frequently commit are paradoxically the result of a legal system that empowers corporations to relentlessly pursue profit and wealth regardless of the consequences...



Blog Post 9: Marketisation and Privatisation: The Great Education Swindle

24/01/18
Since the 1980s there has been an intense debate about whether education should be provided exclusively by the state or public sector. Those who argue in favour of this suggest that education is a fundamental human right. Moreover it is argued that only the State has the power to ensure equality of opportunity for all social groups in terms of access to qualifications and to make sure that all talents and skills, rather than just those of an elite few, are potentially realised. The same argument suggests that such equality of opportunity guarantees an effective society and economy in which those with talents are fairly rewarded on the basis of merit...



Blog Post 8: White-collar crime

07/12/17
This blog is focused on white collar crime which can be distinguished from working-class crime in several ways. Firstly, it is usually committed by respectable and educated middle-class people who occupy positions of status, trust, responsibility and specialist expertise within legitimate business organisations or institutions such as banks, professional partnerships and management companies. However many white collar criminals are also self-employed professionals such as solicitors, accountants and dentists. White-collar crime, therefore, is carried out whilst at work and involves the criminal abusing the trust that their superiors or clients have invested in them. These crimes therefore involve a degree of deception, duplicity and fraud which are difficult to observe because the offender will use their position and power to skilfully cover their tracks. I myself have had indirect experience of this aspect of white-collar crime. In the 1970s before I embarked upon my sociological career I was employed as an accounts clerk by a well-known ferry company...



Blog Post 7: Cloward and Ohlin's Illegitimate opportunity structure theory

04/12/17
This blog was inspired by my fellow blogger Karl Thompson who recently announced that he was eradicating all trace of Cloward and Ohlin from his crime and deviance handouts. I sympathise because for many years before I retired I believed that much subcultural theory had dated very badly and had little relevance to the modern world. However I persevered as I saw that Rob Webb the AQA Chief Examiner continued to write about it in some depth in his textbook and I saw references to it on marking schemes. So what follows are some ideas that might help teachers 'jazz' up and make socially relevant the theory of Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin who argued back in the 1950s that lack of opportunity could lead to the potential formation of three subcultures that offered young people opportunities for involvement with illegal or criminal activity...



Blog Post 6: Criminogenic capitalism

Marxists or Radical criminologists argue that the capitalist economic system that we all experience on a daily basis is criminogenic which means that crime is a natural outcome of the values and norms that people are socialised into by capitalism and their everyday experiences of that economic system. David Gordon argues that capitalism strongly encourages people to believe in a free-market ideology, known as neo-liberalism that suggests that status and success can only be truly measured or achieved via the acquisition of wealth and consumer goods.Moreover the capitalist system encourages a ‘dog eat dog’ mentality as people and businesses are encouraged to compete with one another.
The criminogenic nature of capitalism also means that people raised in such societies often put their self-interest before the interests of the community or society in which they live often without conscience or regardless of the costs to others. In summary then, both Gordon and Chambliss argue that capitalist values such as individualism, competition, materialism and cultural goals such as the pursuit of profit and wealth create pressure on all social classes to commit crime. These values and goals produce a culture of greed among the ‘haves’ and a culture of envy among the ‘have-nots’...



Blog Post 5: Why inequality has widened to record levels over the last forty years

11/11/17
This is the second of two blogs which focus on Jacques Peretti’s recent BBC documentaries on the Super-Rich and the causes of the widening inequalities in both income and wealth which characterise British society in 2017. If you are studying AQA Stratification and Differentiation or OCR’S Understanding Social Inequalities hopefully you will find this blog useful in explaining why the UK is a stratified society and also gain some insight into how inequality has come about and why the gap between the rich and poor is at its widest...


Blog Post 4: Jacques Peretti on the rise of the Super-Rich

07/11/17
This is a summary of the findings of the first of two documentaries on ‘The Super-Rich’ presented by Jacques Peretti, and shown by the BBC in 2017. Peretti points out that the period 2016-2017 is the most unequal period in human history with regard to the distribution of wealth and income. For example, in 2017, 85 individuals own as much wealth as half of the world’s population. In the UK, austerity cuts to public services have totalled £80 billion since 2008 which is the amount paid out in bonuses to the UK’s top bankers in the same period. In 2016 the wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK increased by £70 billion. Moreover the income of this top 1000 people equals the combined earnings of Britain’s full-time workforce..


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Blog Post 3: How does Emile Durkheim explain crime and deviance?

04/11/17​​​​​​
This piece is aimed at furthering the understanding of Sociology A-level students studying either the AQA or OCR units on Crime and Deviance. The focus of this blog are the ideas of Emile Durkheim who is seen by many as one of the founding fathers of both Functionalism and sociological positivism. I am particularly interested in Durkheim's ideas about crime, deviance and law. I am going to suggest that A-level students need to understand two key ideas in Durkheim's work. Firstly, he claims that crime increases and law & order becomes weaker when societies undergo serious economic and social change. In order to explore this idea we need to understand that Durkheim identified two types of society – those based on mechanical solidarity – and those based onorganic solidarity...

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Blog Post 2: Toxic masculinity

03/11/17
This is an interesting time to be a sociologist especially if you are teaching or studying the AQA unit Culture and Identity or the OCR unit Introducing Socialisation, Culture and Identity. Both units require an examination and understanding of gender identity, especially hegemonic masculinity and femininity. The allegations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein, the theatre director Max Stafford- Clark and the ex-Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon have re-opened the debate about how the dominant hegemonic version of masculinity is often toxic in terms of its negative effect on relationships between men and women. This toxic masculinity often underpins patriarchy and legitimates the abuse of male power in many areas of social life....


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​​​​​​​Blog Post 1: Welcome to Sociologystuff.com

03/11/17
Welcome to Sociologystuff.com! The purpose of this site is to offer free for download study notes and guides to both teachers and students which cover most topics on the AQA and OCR Sociology specifications. Since I retired in 2015 these notes have been filed away so I thought it was time to put them to good use by uploading them to this site. You will find study notes on the Family, Health, Research Methods, Crime and Deviance, Sociological Theory and Beliefs in Society already on the site. Hopefully over the next few months I will add study notes on Culture and Identity, Education, Global development and Stratification.....

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