A2 AQA Sociology - Crime and Deviance notes

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1. Functionalist, strain and subcultural theories
The inevitability of crime
Dur khei m's functi onal is t theor y
Functionalists see too much crime as a threat to social order but see
crime as inevitable. Durkheim says `crime is normal...an integral
part of all healthy societies'.
There are two reasons why crime is found in all societies:
1. Not everyone is equally socialised.
2. In complex society, there is a diversity of lifestyles and values.
The positive functions of crime
There are two positive functions of crime:
1. Boundary maintenance ­ Crime produces a reaction from society, uniting
it's members in condemnations.
2. Adaptation and change ­ All change starts with an act of deviance.
There can't be too little or too much crime. Too much crime tears society
apart whereas too little crime shows that society is repressive.
Offers no way of knowing what the right amount of crime is.
Doesn't mean society actually creates crime in advance with the intention of strengthening solidarity.
Functional for whom?
Deviance is the strain between two things:
Mer ton's str ai n theor y
1. The goals that a culture encourages individuals to achieve.
2. What the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately.
An individual's position in the social structure affects the way they adapt or respond to the strain to anomie. There
are five types of adaptation.
Type of adaptation Goal Means
Among middle-class individuals. The
most likely response.

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Those at the lower end of the class
structure tend to go for this. They may
use illegitimate means.
Typical of lower-middle class office
workers in dead end jobs.
`Psychotics, outcasts, vagrants, tramps,
chronic drunkards and drug addicts'.
Desire to bring about revolutionary
change. Political radicals and hippies. Both Both
Evaluation of Merton
Shows how both normal and deviant behaviour come from the same mainstream goals.
Shows the link between property crime and the link between wealth.…read more

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strain theories
Subcultural theories see deviance as the product of a delinquent subculture with different values. They see
them as having an alternate opportunity structure. There are two main ones.
A.K Cohen: status frustration
Cohen first criticised Merton's explanation of deviance on two grounds:
1. Deviance is not an individual response to strain but a group response.
2. Merton focuses too much on utilitarian crime.
He mainly looked at working class boys.…read more

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Differential association theory (Edwin Sutherland) ­ Deviance was
learned through social interaction with other deviants.
Social disorganisation theory (Park and Burgess) ­ Deviance is the product of social disorganisation.
Criminal subculture ­ Provides youths with a career in utilitarian crime. They arise only in neighbourhoods where
there is a longstanding and stable criminal culture.
Conflict subcultures ­ Arise in areas of high population. There are high levels of social disorganisation and
prevents a stable criminal network. There are loosely organised gangs.…read more

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The social construction of
Interested in how acts become deviant or labelled as it.
Deviance is in the eye of the beholder ­ Howard Becker.
A deviant is someone whom the label has been successfully applied.
Interested in how moral entrepreneurs lead to moral crusades in change. The new law created has 2 effects:
1. Creation of new `outsiders'
2. Creation of labelling groups
Platt ­ began with `juvenile delinquency' ­ upper class Victorians said this of them.…read more

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Ignores the victim of crime.
Ignores those who actively chose to commit crime.
Implies that without labelling, deviance wouldn't exist.…read more

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that crime and deviance are the product of
labelling processes (21 marks)
Account labelling theory ­ use deviance amplification and secondary deviance. Self-fulfilling prophecy ­ use studies.
Consider other causes of crime
Look at the criticisms shown on the other page.
`We name the guilty men' wrote Stanley Cohen.…read more

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The Marxist view of crime has three main features:
1. Criminogenic capitalism
2. The state and law making
3. Ideological functions of crime and law
Criminogenic capitalism
Crime is inevitable in capitalism because by it's very nature, it causes crime.
In three ways it can cause crime:
Poverty means that crime may be the only way the working class can survive.
Crime may be the only way to get the consumer goods made by capitalists.…read more

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Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates.
The criminal justice system does sometimes act against the interests
of the capitalist class.
Neo-Marxism: critical
The New Criminology written by Ian Taylor, Paul Walton and Jock Young.
They agree with Marx on many things but say their approach should be called
critical criminology.
They argue that Marxism is deterministic. They reject this and along with
other theories such as crime being caused by other external factors.
Believe in voluntarism.…read more

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A fully social theory of deviance
They aim to create what they call a `fully social theory of deviance' ­ a comprehensive understanding of crime and
A complete theory of deviance needs to unite six aspects:
1. The wider origins of the deviant act ­ in the unequal distribution of wealth and power in capitalist society.
2. The immediate origins of the deviant act ­ the particular context in which the individual decides to commit
the act.
3.…read more



This is so awsome thanks 

did u use the a2 sociology book that has got those stick men on it 

because i have that book and was going to use it to make notes but if its here thats a real big thank you usaved me from a lot of stress

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