2 C Overviewof Perspectiveson Official Statistics

Notes on perspectives on official statistics for A2 Sociology

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Overview on Perspectives ­ Crime and Deviance Emma
2c What Perspectives are there on Official Statistics?
"Not all sociologists agree that crime statistics produced by the police are reliable
or indeed valid."
Functionalists are most likely to agree that official statistics are a broadly accurate
and workable representation of the crime rate. They base the majority of their
theories of crime on the assumption that young, working class men are the main
offenders. They rarely question official statistics. As positivists they tend to see
them as social facts.
These sociologists apply concepts such as labelling and social construction to challenge
the notion that crime statistics provide a workable representation of true crime rates.
Marxists believe that the law and its enforcement reflects the interests if the
dominant class. The crimes of the poor are heavily and strictly policed and punished
while the immoral activities of the rich either ignored, under policed or not defined as
criminal. Police statistics will reflect the fact that the law and its enforcement exist
to protect the interests of the rich and powerful.
Feminists believe that crime statistics do not reflect the true amount of crime against
women, such as sexual attacks and domestic violence. These often occur in a `private
domestic' setting where the police are reluctant to get involved. Also, many women do
not report such offences due to male power and threat. Feminists also theorise why
women are under represented in crime statistics.
Left Realists
These sociologists focus on crime as a serious problem for poorer groups in society.
Crime statistics cannot simply be rejected as inaccurate and rather broadly use the
trends they reveal to construct crime prevention strategies Left Realists tend to
triangulate methods of identifying crime trends. Many favour detailed victim surveys
in local areas (such as the Islington Survey). These can reveal the basis for many
people's fear of crime.
Anti-Racist Views
Anti ­ racist sociology is usually influenced by the findings from qualitative research
methods. They also tend to be close to radical theories such as Marxism, feminism or
radical interactionists. Sociologists such as Scratton believe that crime statistics
inflate the level of crime committed by ethnic minorities and do not accept that such a
disparity exists. They argue that the police and law courts are affected by racism,
which distorts the crime rate to make ethnic minorities look more criminal than they
are. The Macphereson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence lends support to
some of these arguments


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