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FUNCTIONALIST & SUB-CULTURAL
THEORIES OF CRIME
· Durkheim: functionalist- A certain amount of crime is good for society as it encourages some social changes. Crime has a good
function as it allows society to move forward and develop however too much crime is bad and can lead to chaos. "Certain amount
of C&D is integral for all healthy societies." (limitation- he doesn't specify how much crime is too much. Murder may be functional
for society but what about the victim?)
· Cohen: functionalist- Young working class males lack opportunities to achieve largely due to cultural deprivation which leads to
status frustration and therefore deviancy. (limitation- doesn't explain why middle or upper class people are criminal.)
· Robert Merton: functionalist- Society puts too much pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals though they lack
the means, leading to strain which may lead the individuals to commit crimes.
· Cloward & Ohlin: sub-culturalist- There's legitimate and illegitimate means of working your way up in society; some don't have
access to legitimate means and are forced to use illegitimate; meaning crime. (Criticism- assumption that everyone's aspiring to
reach the same mainstream goals. Taylor, Walton and Young said that deviant groups don't share the same goals in life as the rest
of society, E.G. hippies.
· Miller: sub-culturalist- Crime and delinquency come from working class cultural values. General lower working class cultures
encourages law breaking behaviour. Delinquents simply conform to the goals of their culture. (New Right agree with this view.
Criticism- doesn't explain upper class crime.)…read more
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MARXISTS & NEO- MARXISTS ON CRIME
· Crime is an inevitable part of capitalism and capitalists decide what is and isn't deviant/criminal.
· Bonger: Crime is a response to being looked down on and struggles with wealth and poverty.
· Marxists see individuals as being forced intro crime. Most law is based on protecting private property and the ruling-class. The
working class aren't protected and are most likely to be convicted.
· Snider: Most working class crimes are small E.G. burglary and don't cause much harm. Yet, ruling class ideology presents burglars as
the `real criminals' largely through media. Meanwhile, corporate law breakers get very little media condemnation and are treated
more leniently by the legal system.
· Chambliss & Mankoff: Most of this law serves to keep working class away from the property and land of the rich. This is capitalist
exploitation. Chambliss said ruling class law breakers can afford the best legal advice, which is a huge advantage.
· Marxists assume that if we end capitalism we end crime. This has been criticised as it's such a big assumption and other capitalist
societies such as Japan has one of the lowest crime rates worldwide.
· Neo-Marxists : Stuart Hall Policing the Crisis: studied moral panic over mugging in the 1970s. The government made out it was
black people mugging; this was used as a scapegoat to unify people and distract them from economic decline. This led to black
people being stopped and searched for no reason and the label led to delinquency and self-fulfilling prophercies.
· Taylor, Walton & Young: Developed Hall's study and said that crime is the products of the social system the person is immersed in.
They said there were six stages: wider origins f deviant act; immediate origins; act itself; immediate origins of societal reaction;
wider origins of societal reaction; effects of labelling.…read more
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RIGHT & LEFT REALISM
· Murray: Most crime is committed by the underclass (unemployed). There has been a recent upsurge in lone parent families leading
to poor socialisation and delinquency.
· Clarke Rational Choice Theory: People rationalise their choice to commit crime by weighing up the costs vs benefits.
· Wilson & Hernstein: People with aggressive personality traits are more likely to commit crimes etc. They believe that a person's
biology determines whether they will be criminal or not.
· They believe the solution is more formal social control. E.G. harsher prison sentences.
· They have been criticised for ignoring factors like poverty and they don't explain why white collar crime happens.
· Left Realism - Young & Lea: Most crime committed by working class against working class due to relative deprivations causing
discontentment and individualism.
· Young: Working class are marginalised (lack clear goals or representation) and the powerlessness leads to violence and rioting.
· Modern society & exclusion: Lack of jobs for working class and being out prices of the property market left many socially excluded.
· Jock Young: we live in a `bulimic society' where we're exposed to a large variety of consumer products which the working class
· They say we need better informal social control in order to improve the situation. E.G. More appraisal from family and more folk
· Criticisms include that fact that they don't explain white collar crime and it's impossible to get rid of relative deprivation so what's
the solution? Also, they ignore the fact that that middle class people are probably deprived too.…read more
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INTERACTIONISM, LABELLING &
· Interactionism doesn't focus on the structures of society but how people and society interact and
how this affects criminal behaviour.
· Becker: Focuses on the process of a person and act getting labelled as deviant but relies on it's
context to determine its acceptability E.G. nudity, murder, burglary.
· Labelling Process: Labels attached by police and courts; label becomes master status; labelled
person accepts the label: self-fulfilling prophecy.
· Stanley Cohen: Studied how the media has often demonised youth culture. This happened to
mods and rockers in 1964 who were seen as modern day folk devils who threatened social order.
His research found that actual acts of deviancy were minimal.
· Deviancy Amplification Spiral: sensationalist reporting by the newspapers distorts the act of crime
or deviance and increases public awareness. Public pressure is put on the police and courts to act.
This creates a moral panic where certain acts or groups are seen as threats to social order.…read more
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GENDER & CRIME
· The Chivalry Thesis: most police, judges and magistrates are men and men are socialised to be chivalrous towards women.
· Liberation Thesis Freda Alder: if feminists are right and women only commit less crime because of patriarchy then
greater equality should see a rise in women offenders. This equality will bring about more female offenders for violence
and white collar crime.
· Feminist Control Theory: women commit less crimes because men control women through domestic roles, fear of being a
victim and financial dependency.
· Functionalist Sex Role Theory: girls are socialised to be quiet and are discouraged from acting aggressively or breaking
· Messerschmidt: makes a link to male offending and masculinity. All men want the dominant hegemonic masculinity which
is achieved through domination of work, women and sexuality. He argues that lower class men and ethnic minorities lack
the resources to achieve this masculinity so commit crime in order to achieve it.
· Myra Hindley: along with Ian Brady tortured and murdered five kids. This was shocking to the media because she was a
woman and lacked the maternal instincts more of a reaction if the murderer is female.
· Postmodernity & Masculinity: others have suggested that previously jobs in manufacturing allowed men to express their
masculinity. An increase in service sector jobs like bouncers allows men to express their masculinity through violence, drug
dealing and racketeering.
· Feminists: the criminal justice system is patriarchal and is bias against women when they step outside gender roles.
Women are judged more harshly for having promiscuous sex and being bad mothers rather than the seriousness of their
· Girls and women appear to commit less crime than men
· 4/5 convicted offender in Britain are male…read more