GCSE Sociology: Crime and Deviance key terms and definitions

Crime and Deviance key terms from the AQA exam board, with definitions that I have explained and developed myself.

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Key Terms for Crime and Deviance
Agents/agencies of social control ­ These are institutions which influence and
control the behaviour of people in mainstream society and enforce norms and
values. These can be split into formal: police, government, court system, prisons;
and informal: media, education, our families, religion etc.
Anomie ­ the theory that people in the lower working class turn to crime because
of frustration with their social status, lack of opportunities, and inability to
acquire material possessions legally.
Antisocial behaviour ­ behaviour/actions that is deemed to be below the norms
and values of society, eg. Rowdiness, being drunk and disorderly; violence towards
other people.
Chivalry thesis ­ the theory that women are less likely to be prosecuted than men,
or will be treat by police/judges more leniently because women are believed to be
less likely to commit crimes. This theory potentially explains why women are
underrepresented in crime statistics.
Community service ­ a punishment given for less serious offences in which the
offender does a fixed number of hours helping out in the local area, as a way of
repaying the community.
Computer crime ­ this covers any crime which involves the use of a computer, for
example, credit card fraud, which can be carried out online, or illegal downloads.
Due to the difficulty in monitoring computers and network exchanges, this type of
crime is not often shown in crime statistics.
Conformity ­ when an individual or group accepts and obeys the norms of
mainstream society, ie is not deviant. Conformity is encouraged by peer groups and
other social agents such as the media and education.
Corporate crime ­ crime which is committed by companies or individuals within
companies. For example, a company might sell electrical products which haven't
fully undergone testing, which endangers the consumer. Or, individuals within a
company might commit crimes such as claiming extra expenses or taking work
Crime rate ­ the statistical amount of crime in a community/local area, which can
be measured and compared against other communities.
Dark figure ­ the crimes which are not recorded or included in official crime
statistics, making them unreliable. These crimes may not be included because; the
victim may not have identified it as a crime, the victim chose not to report it, the
police chose not to record it or there was no real victim of the crime.
Data protection ­ The Data Protection Act in 1998:
-Data must only be used for the purpose that it was collected for.
-Data must not be given to other parties without the permission of the individual it
was about.
-People have the right to access information which is about them.
Deviance ­ behaving in a way that rejects norms and values of mainstream society,
according to the time, culture, place and role that the individual is in, for example
being naked in public.
Formal and informal social control ­ formal social control involves institutions
such as the police, government and courts system, and relates to controlling

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Individuals are made to conform to society through legal
sanctions such as prison sentences. Informal control involves agents such as the
media, family, religion and education and relates to controlling behaviour that is
deviant. Individuals are encouraged to conform through fear of rejection from
friends/family, praise and popularity to groups that do conform and negative
portrayal of deviant groups.
Identity theft ­ where a person illegally uses someone else's identity usually to
obtain large amounts of money, for example extracting money in someone else's
name.…read more

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Social control/sanctions ­ social control refers to processes/institutions used to
encourage people to conform to the norms and values of mainstream society.
Sanctions are `punishments' used to enforce social control and encourage people to
conform. These can be formal, such as prison sentences and legal punishments, or
informal, such as being rejected or gossiped about by your peer group.
Social construct ­ some ideas in society, such as deviance, and `normal' behaviour,
are believed to be defined by society itself and the groups within it.…read more


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