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Realist theories of crime and deviance
Define, Decode, Signpost
Criminal behaviour is an act which breaks a formal law, such as murder, whereas deviant behaviour is
that which breaks a norm. Definitions of crime and deviance are socially constructed their definitions
are culturally determined. Realist theories differ from the other theories as they reject that crime is
simply a social construction and see it as a real problem that must be tackled. When debating
(DECODE). It is also important to note that there are two form of realism right which emerged in
1970s as part of the New Right movement and Left which developed as a reaction against right
realism. In this essay I will discuss (DECODE).
o There has been a significant rise in crime, especially street crime
o There should be more concern about the fear of crime and impact on victims
o Realistic solutions must be developed to solve crime
o Crime destroys communities and social cohesion.
o Proposed a zero tolerance approach by making penalties harsher individuals would not
choose to be criminal
Causes of crime
1. Biological differences mean some are more predisposed to commit crime e.g. low impulse
control. Murray cause of crime is low intelligence which is biologically determined.
2. Socialisation and the underclass Murray socialisation in vital in controlling crime, within the
underclass it is inadequate. The underclass is characterised by permanent unemployment,
welfare dependency, family instability and high crime. He blames the generous welfare
3. Control and rational choice individuals have free will so will chase criminal behaviour if gains
outweigh penalties. They believe punishment is lenient/soft. To deter criminals a zero
tolerance approach should be implemented.
o Zero tolerance
o An orderly neighbourhood claim graffiti, broken windows, unkempt gardens etc.
Encourage crime and erode a positive sense of security.
o Highlights the importance of the community in reducing crime. Doesn't see the individual as a
passive puppet but as an active choicer
o Ignores wider structural causes of crime e.g. deprivation in some groups
o Over emphasises biological factors
o Focuses too much on petty street crime and ignores WCC
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Promoting zero tolerance gives police more opportunity to discriminate
o Young we now live in a period of late modernity in contrast with 1960s/50s, the golden
age of capitalism with stability, inclusion, full employment, family stability, a strong moral
consensus and strong communities.
o Since 1970s these have disintegrated which can explain the increase in crime.
Causes of crime
o Relative deprivation- the feeling of deprivation or lack of equality in relation to other groups.
o This can be upwards e.g.…read more