SAGE Journal Articles
Journal Article 6.1: Thompson, H. A. (2012). The prison industrial complex: A growth industry in a shrinking economy. New Labor Forum, 21(3), 39–47. doi:10.4179/NLF.213.0000006
Abstract: As tough as life was for American workers at the close of the twentieth century, the dawn of the twenty-first century has proven even more challenging. Despite official claims of recovery, polls show that, for the great majority of Americans, the economy is broken.
Learning Objective: 6.6: Explain which theoretical perspective would be most useful in explaining the function of prisons in U.S. society today.
Summary: This article considers inequality in convict labor during the era of privatization.
Journal Article 6.2: Levine, J. M., & Marques, J. M. (2016, July 12). Norm violators as threats and opportunities: The many faces of deviance in groups. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 19(5), 545–552. doi:10.1177/1368430216657415
Abstract: Group researchers have long been interested in how group members respond to deviance, defined as the violation of prescriptive norms about how members should think, feel, or act. Valuable perspectives on reaction to deviance have been offered by scholars in several disciplines, including social psychology, evolutionary psychology, and sociology. Most of the theoretical and empirical work on reaction to deviance assumes that this behavior has negative consequences for group welfare and hence elicits efforts designed to reduce or eliminate it, including the threat or use of punishment. However, there is increasing interest in the other side of the coin, namely cases in which deviance has positive consequences for group welfare and hence is tolerated or even celebrated. In addition, researchers are also devoting increased attention to the causes of deviance, that is, the reasons why some group members choose to violate prescriptive norms even though doing so may elicit punishment. The papers in this Special Issue, which investigate deviance in a wide range of situations, illustrate cutting-edge work on each of these themes.
Learning Objective: 6.1: Describe who is deviant and why.
Summary: Researchers are devoting increased attention to the causes of deviance, that is, the reasons why some group members choose to violate prescriptive norms even though doing so may elicit punishment. This article investigates deviance in a wide range of situations, and illustrates cutting-edge work on each of these themes.
Journal Article 6.3: Fligstein, N., & Roehrkasse, A. F. (2016). The causes of fraud in the financial crisis of 2007-2009: Evidence from the mortgage-backed securities industry. American Sociological Review, 81(4), 617–643. doi:10.1177/0003122416645594
Abstract: The financial crisis of 2007–2009 was marked by widespread fraud in the mortgage securitization industry. Most of the largest mortgage originators and mortgage-backed securities issuers and underwriters have been implicated in regulatory settlements, and many have paid multibillion-dollar penalties. This article seeks to explain why this behavior became so pervasive. We evaluate predominant theories of white-collar crime, finding that theories emphasizing deregulation or technical opacity identify only necessary, not sufficient, conditions. Our argument focuses instead on changes in competitive conditions and firms’ positions within and across markets. As the supply of mortgages began to decline around 2003, mortgage originators lowered credit standards and engaged in predatory lending to shore up profits. In turn, vertically integrated mortgage-backed securities issuers and underwriters committed securities fraud to conceal this malfeasance and enhance the value of other financial products. Our results challenge several existing accounts of how widespread the fraud should have been and, given the systemic crimes that occurred, which financial institutions were the most likely to commit fraud. We consider the implications of our results for regulations that were based on some of these models. We also discuss the overlooked importance of illegal behavior for the sociology of markets.
Learning Objective: 6.5: Give examples of crimes committed at the national and global level today.
Summary: The authors explore the pervasiveness of white-collar crime activity, which contributed to the financial crisis of 2007–2009.