Crime and Deviance 

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  • Created on: 05-05-15 19:08
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  • Crime and Deviance (15marks)
    • Absolute Deviance - when an act is considered wrong in every circumstances.
    • CRB- when Police Record Bureau check new employers and volunteers for past criminal activity, particular sex offences.
    • Deviance is any behavior that goes against current norms and values. Deviance is rarely absolute.Deviance tends to be relative, this why sociologists see deviance as a social construction.
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    • Relative deviance- when acts are only seen as deviant within a cultural context.
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    • Social Construction- When something is neither natural nor normal but reflects cultural attitudes and ideas.
    • Plummer- introduced the concept of 'situational deviance' whereby a normally deviant act is tolerated because of the circumstances in which it occurs. An example would be running naked into the street to escape a burning house.
    • Social control - methods of controlling people behavior encouraging them to conform to society norms and values and discouraging deviant and criminal behavior.
      • Informal methods of social control- Institutions and groups which are not directly concerned with enforcing social control yet still play play an important part in controlling the behavior of others.
        • Formal methods of social control - Institutions specifically set up to enforce social control- in particular, institutions which create and enforce the law.
    • Crime and statistics and patterns
      • Sociologists see crime statistics as a social construction.they suggest the 'ark side' or 'hidden figure'.
      • Official statistics- numerical data that is collected and published by the government and its agencies. Crime statistics are collected by the police for the home office.
      • The 'official statistics' are viewed as misleading, since they underestimate the true rate of crime.However, they have some as they can indicate trends and patterns of crime.
        • The home office also publishes the British crime survey, which is an annual victim survey of 45,00 households. In 2010 this calculated crime levels at 9.6 million, approximately double the PRC rate.
          • Victim survey- sociologists argue they a give a closer figure to the true rate of crime as they include crimes which people may not bother to report to the police. However, they rely upon people memory and exclude crimes against business, fraud and victim less crimes.
            • Self - report studies - these ask people to honestly confess to crimes they have committed over a period of time. They are used particularly to gain a picture of juvenile offending or offences such as drug-taking.
              • Maguire- notes how we are bombarded with data not just from the Home office but from researchers agencies and even victims. This adds to our knowledge and fear of crime.
                • Two fifths of the crime statistics are made up of criminal damage and theft from a vehicle or from shops.
                  • For example, in 1981, Nottingamshire appeared to be the most criminal area in the country. this was largely due to many more crimes involving £10 or less being recorderd in Nottingamshire then in comparable counties such as leicestershire and Staffordshire (Holday)
                    • Crime statistics rely heavily on the public reporting incidents to the police. Since some types of crimes are more likely to be reported than others, official statistics will not reflect the overall pattern of crime.
                      • Crime statistics rely heavily on the public reporting incidents to the police. Since some types of crime are more likely to be reported than others, official statistics will not reflect the overall pattern of crime.
                        • Fraud may only account for 6% of recorded crime but its monetary value is far greater than this suggest. In mike Maguires words,'if one measures the importance of property offences in terms of the value stolen, rather than the quantity of incidents, fraud comes out as enormously greeter significance than other categories.
                          • The evidence presented in this section indicates that these statistics fail to provide a reliable and valid measurement of crime.
                            • Of these, 43% were reported to the police, and of those reported, 68% were recorded by police. This means that only 29% of all BCS crimes were actually recorded by the police and entered the official statistics of police recorded crime (Simmons & Dodd)
                              • Survey provides a more accurate picture of the extent of crime and of trends in crime than police recorded crime.1. BCS estimates include unreported and unrecorded crime. 2. the trends identified by the BCS are not affected by changes in recording practices, unlike the trends identified from police records.
                                • These include crimes against corporate and commercial organisations - such as fraud and shoplifting- motoring offences and so-called victim less crimes- such as possession or dealing in drugs (Maguire)
                                  • Maguire- describes the picture presented by official sources of the social characteristics of offenders, 'there are many more males, young people, Black people, poor people, poorly-educated people, and people with disturbed childhoods than one would find in a random sample.
                                    • Only 3% of crimes result in a conviction or caution. what about the 97%.
                                      • self - report studies indicate that far more males than females commit crimes.
                                        • Most self - report studies suggest a link between social class and criminal behavior. they indicate that the lower a person position in the class system, the more likely they are to commit a crime. Coleman&Moynihan
                                          • Chambliss- the lower class person is more likely to be scrutinized and therefore to be observed in any violation of the law more likely to be arrested,  more likely to receive harsh punishment that his middle or upper-class counterpart.
                          • The official statistics are socially constructed; they are the end product of a range decisions.
                            • The decision to include common Assault and damage of £20, it is estimated that this change, plus new continuing rules, increased the total number of recorded offences by up to 14% (Maguire)
                              • Various crimes are excluded from the BCS- crimes such as murder, where the victim is no longer available for interview, so-called victimless crimes (e.g, drug possession or dealing), fraud and offences against non-domestic targets such as businesses.
      • the 'official' crime rate is published by the Home office in the from of Police Recorded crime. In 2010 this recorded crime at 4.3 million cases.
    • Media Representations
      • Formal content analysis - this method aims to classify and quantify media content in objective manner.  it measures the amount of space devoted to crime and the types of crime covered in newspapers.
      • Thematic analysis- this from of content analysis looks for themes which underline the content. for example, the police may be regularly presented in a positive light as honest etc.
      • Textual analysis - this form of content involves a close examination of the 'text' in order to see how it encourages a particular reading and creates a particular impression.
      • like official statistics and self-report studies, crime news portrays offenders as overwhelming male.
      • Media fiction focuses on murder and other violent crimes. murder was the most frequent offence in crime movies since 1945 (Reiner)
      • What counts as crime, what counts as justice, and what crimes are significant. and, in doing so, they reflect the concerns of the powerful - the agents of social control and the state (Hall et al.)


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