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Sociology Unit 4: Crime and Deviance
Different theories of crime, deviance, social order and social control
Crime is behaviour that breaks the law and is punished by the legal system. Deviance is behaviour which
goes against the norms, values and expectations of a social group or society. Crime is mostly deviant, but
not all deviance is criminal. Both crime and deviance are Socially Constructed. This is the way something is
created through the individual, social and cultural interpretations, perceptions and actions of people.
Deviance changes with time and place as norms, vales and social expectations change. Subcultures have
different norms in society, so what is deviant for one group may be conformity for another. Plummer
(1979) said that the same act can be seen as deviant or non-deviant depending on the situation. Societal
Deviance is acts which are seen as deviant in most situations by most members of society. Situational
Deviance is acts which are seen as deviant depending on the circumstance.
Social Control refers to the various methods used to persuade individuals to conform to the dominant
social norms and values of society. It is carried out by `Informal' and `Formal' Agents. Informal agents
include family, media, peer group, education and religion. Formal agents include police, laws, army, and
courts. Social Order along with social control maintains the status quo and creates a value consensus of
how to behave. Sociologists are interested in the Social Causes of crime and deviance and look at them as
a Social Phenomenon.
There are also Physiological and Psychological theorists who have explanations on crime and deviance.
Physiological theories say that criminals are physically different. Cesare Lombroso (1876) stated that
criminals were genetically different. Moir and Jessel (1995) argued that hormonal and chemical
imbalances make individuals more likely to be criminal. They say these chemical imbalances affect men
more than women and that is why statistics show men commit more crime. Psychological theories say that
criminals are mentally different. Bowlby (1946) argued that individuals who are deprived of maternal love
in the first years of life are likely to develop personality traits which lead them to committing crime.
Eysenck (1964) concluded that individuals who commit crime have inherited psychological characteristics
which predispose them to crime.
For Functionalists they say society works as an organic system where all components of society fulfil a
particular function which helps society to work efficiently. Durkheim argued that crime plays a useful role in
maintaining social order as long as it does not reach harmful levels. He says crime is inevitable and a normal
aspect of social life. It is functional for society provided its social expression is not too much or too little. It
only becomes dysfunctional and harmful to society when it becomes unusually high or low. Durkheim's
definition of crime is that it can only be understood if we have an understanding of specific norms and
values of the society in which it occurs. Crime and deviance reinforce the consensus of values, norms and
behaviour of the majority of the non-deviant population. Air time of crime in the mass media is high,
therefore the public is shown how not to behave giving our collective sentiments enhancement and
reinforcement. Deviance is often a forerunner of a new set of collective sentiments with some criminals
before their time. Collective sentiments must not crush originality. Durkheim argues that all social change
begins with some form of deviance. However when there is too much crime it becomes a problem for
society - the situation of `Anomie' arises which means the loss of dominant or shared guiding principles or
normlessness. He also uses the concepts of Collective Conscience, which is the shared values in society,
and Social Solidarity, which is the feeling of belonging.
Functionalism is a Consensus Approach to crime. We associate functionalism with the following
concepts: Macro ­ focuses on institutions and structures rather than individuals, Function ­ each institution
performs a role which contributes to the maintenance of the whole, Interdependence ­ looks at links
between the different institutions, Equilibrium ­ underpinning functionalism is the idea that the
institutions work together without conflict, Social Change ­ emphasises stability in society rather than
change. Parsons described the structure of society as a `Social System' because of the way that
institutions respond to restore equilibrium. We can use the `GAIL' Model, developed by Parsons, to find
out the contribution of each part to the system. He tells us that the social system has certain activities
which need to happen, called `Functional Prerequisites'. G is Goal Attainment which is a way of deciding

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A is Adaption which is a way of making sure goods are produced and distributed
and therefore needs to be capable of adapting to changes in the social system. I is Integration which is a
means of ensuring that individuals conform, with the agents of social control ensuring this. L is Latency
which ensures norms and values are passed on from generation to generation. Parsons also developed the
concept of Pattern Variables.…read more

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Retreatist subculture ­ emerge among the lower-class youths who are
double-failures having failed to succeed in mainstream society and in the gang cultures of the criminal and
conflict subcultures
Classical/Traditional Marxist explanations say that the economic base consisted of the means of
production and the relations of production which determined everything else in society. Work is the
sole source of wealth. Workers produce more than is needed, and this extra is the `Surplus Value' which
provides profit for the Bourgeoisie.…read more

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Neo-Marxist Gramsci saw ideology as having Relative Autonomy from the economic base. Hegemony
(dominance in society of the ruling classes set of ideas over others and acceptance of and consent to them
by the rest of society) placed much more emphasis on the role of ideas. Althusser argued that the
structure of capitalist society does not on ly consist of two levels but three; the economic level, political
level, where the Repressive State Apparatus lies, and the ideological level, where the Ideological State
Apparatus lies.…read more

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In the same period, Chambliss was monitoring another gang at the same school ­ the Roughnecks.
This group was made of six lower-class white boys, viewed by everyone as heading for trouble. They
were constantly in trouble with the policy and local community even though their delinquency was about
equal with the richer group of boys. The Saints and Roughnecks have pretty much lived up to their
community's expectations. Seven of the Saints graduated from college and went into good, respectable
positions of work.…read more

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However it exaggerates the scale of social change and
overemphasises the influence of the mass media, and tends to assume that people are passive and easily
manipulated by the media. Ollocks suggests that postmodernism is simply an exhausting intellectual game
using obscure ideas and complicated language to disguise nonsensical ideas.
To define postmodernism it is; Chaos, uncertainty and the collapse of social structures. It is nonsense to
talk of an institution called e.g.…read more

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Hughes (1991) says that left realists haven't explained why some people who experience relative
deprivation see crime as a solution and others don't. He argues that there would be a lot more crime if
relative deprivation was the main cause.
Right Realists is the greatest influence on current Home Office policy from all the theories of crime,
because of the practical policies for crime prevention which derive from it.…read more

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­ young people are more likely to be on the streets or in clubs, which is where most pick
pocketing occurs. Evidence that young people are more likely to be victims of crime supports this.
It's not age itself, just areas where people are going to be with opportunities for crime which is the
significant factor. It could be that young people get caught more instead of them actually just
committing more. The crimes young people commit are more visible.…read more

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By the late 80s the main employment of shipbuilding and mining were no
longer employing large numbers of people. With this decline part-time female employment assumed
more significance, with a shift towards the service sector and leisure employment. From the work of
Jean Baudrillard, Winlow argues this is a context where images and signs become all-important in the
creation of self identities. It is important for men to prove their masculinity through labour work.…read more

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Property crime seems to rise when people
are hard up, when poverty is on the increase and people are in need to provide for their families.
Miller argues that the fact that more people in prison are working-class reflects the working class
subcultures which often have crime as an accepted or rewarded activity. Marxists argue the system
of law and order is run by the ruling-class, against the interests of the working-class and law reflects
ruling class ideology - hegemony.…read more


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