Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Minority Group Threat
Marvin D. Free
An inspection of arrest, sentencing, and incarceration statistics in the United States discloses substantial racial disparities. African Americans, in particular, are overrepresented in each of these areas. While the disproportionate representation of African Americans and other minorities is beyond dispute, explanations for this disparity are frequently debated in academic circles. One prominent explanation for the racial disparity found in criminal justice statistics utilizes a conflict perspective. According to this theoretical perspective, crime is socially defined, and the behaviors that are designated as violations of the criminal code tend to reflect the interests of the more powerful groups within society. Moreover, societal elites influence the ways in which the laws are implemented. Conflict theory therefore suggests that when relatively powerless groups in society are seen by the powerful as posing a threat to the status quo, formal social control agents may be deployed to repel these threats to the social order. ...