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Relative deprivation, opportunity and crime: A study of young men's motivations for commiting burglary.

Brown, Frederick Howard (2001) Relative deprivation, opportunity and crime: A study of young men's motivations for commiting burglary. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

Empirical studies have attempted to measure the relative deprivation-crime relationship with varying degrees of success. These have generally focused on examining 'actual relative deprivation' by employing quantitative methods to aggregated, area based data. Operationalising actual relative deprivation in terms of disparities in household income, these studies have attempted to show a relationship between income inequality and crime at the area level. From this they have assumed that those with the lowest incomes are most likely to perceive relative deprivation and are therefore more likely to engage in crime as a result. However, few studies have examined actual and perceived relative deprivation at the individual level. This thesis set out to explore at the individual level whether those experiencing actual relative deprivation are more likely than others to perceive relative deprivation and to determine whether actual or perceived relative deprivation (if either) is a good predictor of criminality. The study employed two methodologies to explore these issues. Secondary analysis of the 1998 Youth Lifestyle Survey was conducted and forms the core of the empirical work presented here. A study of 50 convicted burglary offenders was also undertaken to explore perceived relative deprivation. Both methodologies are limited by the problems associated with operationalising relative deprivation and these are detailed throughout the thesis. The results show that perceived relative deprivation (especially relative deprivation of leisure pursuits) would appear to be associated with involvement in crime more often than actual relative deprivation at the individual level. However, neither would appear to be a good predictor of criminality when compared to other, 'tried and tested' measures. For those offenders where perceived relative deprivation may be relevant, the thesis suggests that the offending peer group may provide a powerful comparative reference group while at the same time providing a means to resolve such experience through engaging in crime. Drawing on the findings, the thesis develops alternative theoretical frameworks for how relative deprivation may be associated with crime at the societal and individual level and provides a critique of these frameworks.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2421

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