Interactionist basics Crime & Deviance

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  • Crime and Deviance (Interactionist Theory)
    • The activities of the law and the social control agencies such as the police and courts are central in shaping the pattern of crime and deviance in society.
    • Everyone breaks the law but only certain individuals and groups are targeted by the police and courts to be labelled as criminal or deviant.
    • Society reacts differently to those who have been labelled in this way from the rest of the population.
    • Once labelled, the criminal or deviant begins to act in ways that confirm the label.
    • Choices made by the police over where to patrol, who to stop and search who to arrest and who to take to prosecution.
      • These important aspects of the operation of micro-power and shape the pattern of apparent criminal activity that emerges.
    • Those labelled criminals are not inevitably cast out from mainstream society.
      • In areas of strong community, shame can be used to reintegrate the individual into society.
    • Phenomenologists emphasise the meaning of crime for the individuals who commit crimes.
      • eg: the engagement in criminal activity can cause excitement.
    • The labelling of groups as criminal or deviant can serve political purposes.
      • By keeping the population fearful of crime or others, stronger laws can be introduced to curtail civil liberties.


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