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THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO CRIME AND DEVIANCE…read more

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KEY QS UNDERLYING THEORIES OF CRIME & DEVIANCE
1. What is the basis of society?
Is it based on structure or action? Is it based on consensus or conflict? What holds society together?
2. How do we define deviants and deviant behaviour?
Are deviants different from non-deviants? Is it abnormal behaviour in which only a few people
engage, or is it a definition that changes according to culture, time and place?
3. Is crime a social fact or a social construct?
i.e.…read more

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FUNCTIONALIST APPROACHES
1. The basis of society
STRUCTURAL APPROACH: believe that individual behaviour is determined by social structures such as
the family and social position such as class.
CONSENSUS APPROACH: believe that societies exist because they are based on fundamental
agreement about basic values. We all share beliefs about what constitutes good and bad
behaviour, and what the goals of society should be. This keeps society stable and benefits all
members of society.
2. What is deviance?
DEVIANCE is `abnormal'.…read more

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Because it is inevitable, it becomes normal.
Crime is also functional: a limited amount of crime is necessary and beneficial to society.
It helps with social regulation (telling people how they should behave) and social integration
(helping people feel they have things in common and belong to a particular group or society)
Crime only becomes dysfunctional when its rate is unusually high or low.…read more

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MERTON
Theory was developed in 1940s -- widely accepted in 1960s "great society program."
2 elements:
1. Structural factors ­ society's unequal opportunity structure
2. Cultural factors ­ the strong emphasis on success goals and weaker emphasis on legitimate means
to obtain them.
All members of society share the same goals (value consensus).
Cultural goals deemed acceptable:
Wealth
Power
Status
Material Goods
The legitimate means of achieving these goals (institutionalized means) are based on the values of
culture.…read more

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His theory can be applied to some contemporary trends in crime, e.g. Savelsberg (1995): it can help
explain rapid crime rate in many post-communist countries e.g. Poland's first free elections 1989. In
first year after that official crime rate increased by 69% - see also Young, Reiner etc in Skills (hwk)
× CONSENSUS V CONFLICT: Assumes that there is a value consensus ­ conflict theorists would disagree.…read more

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SUBCULTURAL STRAIN THEORIES
Merton leaves 3 unanswered Qs:
1. Why do some people commit crime but not others?
2. How can we theorise collective as opposed to individual deviance?
3. How can we explain non-utilitarian crime?
Answering these Qs provided spur to subcultural theories of C&D, who built on Merton's strain theory.
A. COHEN (1955): THE DELINQUENT SUBCULTURE
Agrees with Merton:
The mainstream value of success creates problems for young working-class males.…read more

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This is because different social environments provide different opportunities for C&D, which
encourage development of different delinquent subcultures (illegitimate opportunity structure).
They identified 3 types of delinquent subculture:
1. Criminal subcultures emerge in areas of established organized crime where young people
exposed to deviant values and role models.
They have the opportunity to rise within established criminal hierarchy.
2. Conflict subcultures emerge in areas where little access to either legitimate or illegitimate
opportunity structures.…read more

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­ entrepreneurial)
MATZA
Assumes that deviants are strongly committed to their subcultures. Instead, most deviants drift in and
out of delinquency.
Assumes that deviants develop inverse norms and values. In fact, Matza's interviews with juvenile
delinquents shows that they use techniques of neutralisation to justify their actions, suggesting that
they are aware that deviance is disapproved of by society.…read more

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