AQA A2 Sociology Crime and Deviance, Sociological Theories and Research Methods

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Crime and Deviance
Crime is behaviour which breaks the laws of society resulting to action by formal
agencies of social control. Deviance is behaviour which goes against the dominant
social norms of a specific society or group and causes disapproval. These change over
time, societies, context, person and place. Functionalism
Socialisation ensures individuals share the same norms and values and social control
ensures we behave the way society experts, both which maintain solidarity.
Durkheim: Crime and deviance provides positive functions as it contributes to the well
being of society. Durkheim developed his discussion of crime in The Rules of
Sociological Method (Durkheim 1938 first published 1895). He suggests crime is:
1) Inevitable as not every member in society can be equally committed to the
collective conscience of society, some are prone to deviate. We are exposed to
different influences so it is impossible for all to be alike. Different subcultures
develop their own norms and values which differ from mainstream society
2) Universal crime is present in all types of societies (but higher in industrialised
3) Normal abnormal levels of crime in times of social upheaval (collective conscience is
weakened= anomie people look for their own interests)
4) Adaptation and Change crime only becomes dysfunctional when it is too high or low,
so a certain about is needed. Also social change begins with some form of deviance
for change to occur a yesterday deviance must become today's normality. Changes
may highlight social structures/laws which are inadequate e.g. Suffragette
movement broke the law to highlight gender inequalities public opinion on crimes
shows whether the law needs to change
5) Relative what is seen as criminal behaviour varies between society and over time
(crime is socially constructed). Sees punishment serves to heal the wounds done to
the collective sentiments. Without punishment collective sentiments would lose their
power to control behaviour and crime rates would become dysfunctional. Crimes
may create a public outrage and punishment may reinforce community solidarity
against offenders (boundary maintenance).
Other functions: Minor crimes act as safety valves, preventing more serious crimes.
E.g. prostitution acts as a safety valve for the release of men's sexual frustrations
without threatening the monogamous nuclear family (Davis). Pornography safely channels
sexual desires away from adultery which would threaten the family (Polsky). Deviant acts
warn society that an aspect is not working properly e.g. truanting (Cohen).
Evaluation: Shows useful purpose served by crime and offers explanations that recognise
the social dimension to crime. Doesn't explain why certain social groups commit crimes.
He neglects that some crimes are always dysfunctional. Marxists argue that he
underestimates the level of conflict and inequality in modern societies. Suggests a certain
level of crime is needed but doesn't suggest how much. Doesn't explain individual
motivations or why some people commit crimes.
Lombroso: Criminals are biologically different explains their criminal behaviour.
Sociologists are sceptical of this view as they insist an explanation must take the social
context in account. Crime and deviance is based on meaning, definitions and interpretations
of behaviour that develop within the context of social interaction. Sociologists look at the
social situation of the individual e.g. class structure, power and influence, age, gender,
ethnicity, cultures and subcultures.
Merton's Strain Theory: argue deviant behaviour occurs as they are unable to achieve
socially approved goals by legitimate means. Used Durkheim's concept of anomie to

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Deviance is the result of a strain between goals that a culture encourages to achieve
and what the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately. E.g.
the American Dream expected to achieve the goal of money success by legitimate means.
This ideology suggests America is a meritocratic society so whoever makes the effort can
achieve the most. However, this is not true as many groups are disadvantaged poverty,
inadequate schools and racial discrimination block opportunities.…read more

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Retreatist: emergences among those who have failed to become gang
leader or succeed through legitimate means double failures so they may turn to things
like drug use.
Evaluation: Ignores crimes of the wealthy and wider power structures (deterministic).
The boundaries between different types of subcultures overlap (South). Assumes everyone
starts off sharing the same mainstream success goals Miller suggest lower class have its
own independent subculture.…read more

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Law is an ideological state apparatus (Althusser) which functions in the interest of the
capitalist class to maintain and legitimate class inequality. Snider capitalist state is
reluctant to pass laws that regulate the activities of business or threaten their
profitability. Box powerful kill, injure and steal from ordinary members but are not
convicted e.g. a workers death due to the employer's infringement of health and safety
laws is civil rather than a criminal offence. Law enforcement is selective and tends to
favour the rich/powerful.…read more

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Their success was an elaborate scam as Enron lied about its profits
and stands accused of a range of suspicious dealings, including concealing debts so they
didn't show up in the company's accounts. 4500 employees lost their jobs and homes,
investors lost $60 billion within a few days. The Enron executives who knew the crash
was coming and sold their stock quickly and quietly, stayed rich. The Piper Alpha
disaster was a crime against employees.…read more

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AfroCaribbean men), but Hall's research showed it
was growing more slowly. Hall argues that the moral panic developed as capitalism was
in crisis and the economic crisis linked to unemployment and strikes and a hegemonic
crisis so the crisis was over authority. The moral panic came at the right time as the
authorities used the black muggers to distract attention from their real problems. This
divided the WC in ethnic lines and the media maintained the deception as it helped sell
more newspapers.…read more

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Young's hippie study. Deviance amplification is similar to secondary deviance societal
reaction to an initial deviant act leads further deviance= greater reaction etc.
Increasing attempts to control and punish young offenders have opposite effect. The
labelling theory has important policy implications as it adds weight to the argument that
negative labelling pushes offenders towards a deviant career, so to reduce
deviance= enforce fewer rules for people to break.…read more

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Socialisation and the underclass: effective socialisation decreases the risk of
offending as it involves learning selfcontrol and internalising moral values. They
see the best agency of socialisation is the nuclear family. Murray crime rate is
increasing due to growing underclassesfail to socialise their children properly.
Sees the growing underclass growing in the UK and USA as a result of welfare
dependency. Welfare state's `generous revolution' allows increasing numbers to
become dependent on the state= decline of marriage and growth of lone parent
families.…read more

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Causes of crime:
Relative deprivation: Runciman how deprived someone feels in relation to others,
or compared with their own expectations= crime when people feel resentment that
others unfairly have more than them and resort to this the get what they are entitled
to. Lea and Young aware of relative deprivation due to the media and advertising
which raises everyone's expectations for material possessions, those who cannot
afford them may resort to crime. Young individualism encourages pursuit of
selfinterest at the expense of others by crime.…read more

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CSEW) and police recorded crime statistics provide a comprehensive picture of crime
and victimisation.
Type Strengths Weaknesses
Crime Large nationally representative sample Subject to error associated with
Survey survey good measure of longterm trends sampling and respondents
for for crime types and the population it recalling past events
England covers (e.g.…read more



So useful, thank you!

beth reid



what grade did you get? 


I got an A :) 

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