Sociology Coursework

Investigating whether it is poverty not single parent families that is responsible for the rising crime rate.


Single parent families, above all single mothers have come under attack. Fatherless families are blamed for the rising crime and education failure. My aim is to find out if the lack of the father figure is to blame for the rising crime in society. I will also look at other reasons for crime such as poverty and material deprivation. I will research Charles Murray’s view that young males are choosing to go into crime rather than to take jobs because they have grown up without a male role model to teach discipline and responsibility, also I will look at contrasting views that believe poverty is more responsible for crime.


Context and concepts

It is argued that the absence of a father figure lacks family control of children and deprives boys of a male role model. Charles Murray blames fatherless families for the coming out of an underclass; this blames the victims of poverty for their own deprivation. Charles Murray study. \'Losing Ground\' (1984) found that in inner city ghettos the inhabitants showed high levels of indolence, illegitimacy, drunkenness and criminality. These people according to Murray make up the underclass of society. He concentrates on the effect single parents have on the children in this group. In female-headed households he found that there was poor discipline and also boys didn\'t have a male role model to aspire to. This relates to my aim because it reveals that crime and anti social behaviour are consequences of single parent families.

However Murray ignores the fact that many women struggle to bring up their children in poverty and it is this poverty and not the lack of a male role model, which causes the problems he describes.

Main method and research

The research method I will use is a semi-structured interview, using this method I hope to produce both statistical and in depth data. I shall prepare a list of questions before hand so the interview will produce relevant data. By using this method I should gain a better understanding of the respondent\'s perceptions and motivation and hopefully new ideas and perspectives should emerge which I haven\'t thought of before.

I will also get a better idea on the individual personality and therefore increase my level of insight into the problem this should enable me to ask further relevant questions. All this should make my investigation more valid than a questionnaire could do and should provide me with detailed accounts of the problems of single parent hood.

Because I will have considered the questions carefully beforehand I can be sure they will cover the areas I need and lean be sure that all respondents are asked the same questions. Therefore I can make comparisons between them. Also the research can be repeated at another time by a different researcher, which makes it reliable.

Having considered all of the above, I decided that a questionnaire wouldn\'t be appropriate for the type of information I need which is in-depth answers and a questionnaire wouldn\'t produce this. Individuals might interpret the questions incorrectly if I used a questionnaire and the responses to questionnaires tend to be limited. I feel that an observational study wouldn\'t be a good choice as I would not be able to make generalisations and it would have to be carried out over a number of months that wouldn\'t have been practical. Is also time consuming and hard to record the information accurately.

I shall interview both the children and the parents, so I can gain a better understanding of single parent hood; I shall gain different viewpoints and opinions. I will carry out several interviews with each individual. I will take my sample of 20 individuals from different local areas. I would use a snowball sample to reach my respondents. I would get in touch with groups such as Gingerbread, which is an organisation that helps lone parent families and ask them to put in touch with people who would be prepared to answer questions for my research. As I am a college student it would be very difficult to access different areas of the country but if I was able to I would like to take a larger number of individuals from