Crime and deviance sociologists

Sociologists for the crime and deviance exam

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Sociologist The theory Evaluation
Durkheim He argued that crime has 2 characteristics: Bonds are strengthened
Inevitable : crime occurs everywhere and we within society when people
have to try and reduce the impacts of this deviate from the accepted
Universal : crime exists in every society norms and values of society
Relative : crime depends on what is seen to be Durkheim doesn't give a
criminal in one society compared to the other detailed description for the
Functional : A limited amount of crime can causes of crime (this is left
strengthen bonds. to Merton)
Crime and deviance play a positive role in society as Draws attention to current
allowing norms and values to be reinforced. This is done affairs and problems that
through the following ways: are occurring in society
Marking acceptable behavior : this is done Distinguishes between right
through the implementation of the law and wrong
Media coverage : this shows people the Ignores the fact that
consequences of not conforming to the law and deviance doesn't always act
going against the norms/ values of society as a safety valve- families
Legitimize social change : help society recognize fall apart as a result
the need for social change Ignores biological and
Bonds are strengthened : this occurs when physical reasons of crime
people unite about what is viewed to right and What is the perfect amount
acceptable in society of crime?
Safety valve : this helps to reduce the more Murder may be functional
serious crime that occurs in society but what about the victim?
Merton He supported Durkheim by giving a detailed description Recognizes the cause of
of the reasons that people turn to crime crime (the American Dream)
He argues that many types of crime exist because society It may only be relevant to
shares the same desire (the American Dream). But not American society
everyone can achieve the American Dream and as a Not being able to achieve
result they result to crime to try and achieve. the American Dream
A strain occurs between the goals and people's ambition doesn't always
to achieve them. Thus giving Merton's theory its name automatically result in crime
`Strain theory.' Can only account for
There are 5 different ways in which people respond to unitarian crime (crime based
strain: on money), what about
Conformity: most people take this approach and graffiti?
choose to conform to the norms and values of What about other factors
society that impact crime: ethnicity,
Innovation: criminal behavior occurs as an gender and sexuality
adaption to the original behavior Merton's view is backed up
Ritualism: people that are stuck in dead end by Messner and Rosenheld
jobs (1994) who argue that the
Retreatism: habitual drug users crime rate in America is so
Rebellion: when you want to replace the views high because of the value
held by the American Dream American society places on
material wealth.
Taylor, Walton & Young
(1973) argue that the theory
cannot account for
politically motivated crime
where people break the law
because of commitment to a
Subcultural theory
Sociologist The theory Evaluation

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Cohen Status frustration This view is gender blind
This occurs as a result of the lower class being frustrated and doesn't look at the
with the running of the educational system and the fact reasons that girls turn to
that they experience cultural deprivation. As a result of crime
this they solve this frustration by creating their own In part backed up the
norms and values within a gangs, which allows them to research that Paul Willis
achieve and gain status.…read more

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Social action/ Interactionist
Sociologist The theory Evaluation
Becker The deviant is the one to whom the label has been Not all stages can be applied
applied, and the deviant behaviour is the behaviour to every person the commits a
that people label. criminal act
Looked at home someone an become criminal Not everyone lives up to their
1. An act is committed label- it can be rejected.
2.…read more

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Sociologist The theory The evaluation
Gordon Capitalist society is criminogenic Japan is a capitalist society but
Criminogenic means that crime is an in- built and the rates of crime are low-
natural outgrowth of a capitalist society which is suggesting that capitalist
emphasized by economic self- interest, greed and society isn't criminogenic.
economic gain. Crime is a rational response to the
competitiveness and inequality of life in a, in which,
profit, individual gain and being the best are more
important than the wellbeing of others.…read more

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Health and safety regulations are less enforced e.g.
escape of poisonous gas from a plant in India led to the
deaths of 3,000 people but no criminal charges were
ever brought against the company owners, yet the Gulf
of Mexico spill led to the company being charged.
Box He argues that capitalist organizations have succeeded Recognises the way that
in convincing the public, politicians and the media that different classes are treated.…read more

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Neo- Marxist perspectives
Sociologist The theory Evaluation
Taylor, Come up with a fully social theory of deviance- this Too deterministic
Walton theory combined Marxism and labelling theory. Feminists say that it doesn't
and Young 1. The wider origins of the deviant act- the have a focus on women and
unequal distribution of wealth within society the particular reason that
2. The immediate origins of the deviant act- the women commit crime
particular context in which the acts take places Left realists say that they
3.…read more

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Right realism
Sociologist The theory Evaluation
Wilson Biological reasons that people commit more crime The research that was
and Wilson and Hernstein suggest some people are innately committed by sociologists
Hernstein more strongly predisposed to commit crime than would have been on criminals
others. Especially those who have personality traits like that are in prison, so it doesn't
aggression, risk taking and low impulse control account for criminals that don't
get caught
It over- emphasises biological
factors.…read more

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Left realism
Sociologist The theory Evaluation
Lea and Looked at the impact of crime on the daily lives of Left realism does offer ideas
Young vulnerable groups. The offenders were often from these about what can be done
groups too, but their criminality could not be excused or about crime, whilst becoming
justified politically. a pressing need when crime is
Lea and Young used the concepts of relative deprivation, seen as a problem faced by
marginalisation and subculture to explain crime.…read more

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Gender and crime
Sociologist The theory Evaluation
Sex role theory and gender socialization
Gender socialization encourages women to adopt
feminine characteristics such as such as being more
emotional, less competitive, less tough, aggressive
and more averse to taking risks than men. Women's
traditional roles involve being wives, mothers and
housewives. These combine to make many women
both more afraid of risk- taking involved in crime, as
well as giving them fewer opportunities to commit
crime.…read more

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Adler Argues that if feminists are right and women only The female crime rate began
commit less time due to patriarchy then greater in the 1950's long before the
equality should see the rise in female offenders. liberation movement in the
This equality will bring about more female 60s.
offenders for violent and white collar crime. Most female criminals are
part of the working class, the
group that is least likely to be
affected by the liberation
movement.…read more


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