Defining Crime and Deviance SCYL4

Different definitions of crime :)

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  • Created on: 14-04-13 12:29
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Defining Crime and Deviance
Crime = behaviour which breaks societys laws, which is then punished by the legal
system/the state e.g. the police or court
Deviance = behaviour that deviates from the norms of society e.g. tattoos
Both criminal and deviant behaviour is relative i.e. it varies between time periods and
cultures. For example, homosexuality was a criminal offence in Britain over 100 years
ago, and some cultures believe polygamy is not deviant behaviour.
All social rules & norms are underpinned by sanctions that reinforce conformity. These
are called forms on social control:
Formal social control = written laws, the legal system, the police force, prison and
court rooms.
Informal social control = approval and opinions of those around us e.g. our friends,
family, collegues (part of socialisation process)
Functionalists argue social control is essential in preventing anomie and
encouraging consensus.
Marxists say social control is important as it maintains the class structure and
capitalism (link this to Althusser)
Feminists contend social control ensures both men and women act in ways that
benefit patriarchy.


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