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Functionalist Sex Role Theory
Early sociological explanations of gender differences in crime focused on differences in the
socialisation of males and females. Boys are encouraged to be tough more disposed to
offend. Parsons uses instrumental and expressive roles to explain gender differences. Gives
girls access to a role model but boys will reject feminine models of behaviour. Socialisation
can be more difficult for boys than girls, lack of male role model may lead to boys joining
Heidensohn; patricarchal control
Most striking thing about womens' behaviour is how conformist it is the commit fewer
crimes than men. Patriarchal society imposes greater control over women and this reduces
their opportunities to offend. Operates at home, public and at work.
Carlen; class and gender deals
Class deal women who work will be offered material rewards, with a decent standard of
living and leisure opportunities.
Gender deal patriarchal ideology promises women material and emotional rewards from
family life by conforming to the norms of a conventional domestic gender role
The liberation thesis
If patriarchal society exercises control over women to prevent them from deviating, then it
would seem logical to assume that, if society becomes less patriarchal and more equal,
women's crime rates will become more similar to mens.
Official statistics show males commit more crime than females but the chivalry thesis argues
that they underestimate female offending because the criminal justice system treats women
more leniently. However, this maybe because their offences are less serious. Some feminists
argues that the system is biased against women, especially when they deviate from social
norms. In explaining gender differences in offending, sex role theory focuses on
socialisation. Feminists theories emphasise patriarchal control that reduces females'
opportunity to offend, Carlen argues that when the reward system for female conformity
fails, females are likely to offend. The liberationist thesis argues that as women become
more liberated, they adopt `male patterns of offending.