SCYL4 AQA Social reactions to crime and deviance

SCYL4 AQA Social reactions to crime and deviance

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Social Reactions to C&D/ Crime and Deviance/A2 SOCIOLOGY
4a What are the Social Reactions to Crime and Deviance?
Interactionists believe the social reaction to crime and deviance to be a
central element in the study of criminology.
For example the social reaction to the introduction of the poll tax, led to
serious conflicts between protesters and the police and ultimately led to it's
scrapping and the demise of Mrs Thatcher.
In a different case, it can be argued the reaction of the public to the abduction
and murder of Sarah Payne, led to the introduction of the sex offender's
Sociologists are keen to theorise the causes of social reactions and many
attribute a close connection between the extent and nature of media coverage
of particular criminal or deviant acts and the social reaction to them. They
argue that most people's perceptions of crime are actually created, or at least
informed by, the media
Crime, Labelling and the Media
What labelling theory alerts us to is the way in which the whole area of crime
is dependent upon social constructions of reality, law creation, law
enforcement and the identities of rule breakers are all thrown into question.
A key element of all three of these processes is composed by the media.
Labelling theory has contributed two particularly important concepts to our
understanding of the relationship between the media and crime.
Deviancy amplification
Moral panics
Deviancy amplification
A number of sociologists who do not share the same theoretical perspective
as the interactionists have also focused on societal reaction. For example a
study on the societal reaction to mods and rockers in the mid-1960s.
Mods and rockers
Mods and rockers are youth groups who differed from each other in terms of
dress, musical tastes and modes of transport (mods rode scooters, rockers
rode motor bikes). Stanley Cohen's (1987) study looked at societal reaction to
disturbances involving mods and rockers, which took place in Clacton over
the Easter bank holiday in 1964.
The mass media represented these disturbances as a confrontation between
rival gangs 'hell bent on destruction'. On inspection, however, Cohen
discovered that the amount of serious violence and vandalism was not great
and that most young people who'd gone to the seaside that weekend did not
identify with either the mods or the rockers. The mass media had produced a
distorted picture of what went on.
Deviancy amplification spiral, Media coverage led to considerable public
concern with mods and rockers. And this set in motion a deviancy amplification
spiral. Sensitised to the 'problem', the police made more arrests, the media

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Social Reactions to C&D/ Crime and Deviance/A2 SOCIOLOGY
reported more deviance, and young people were more likely to identify with
either mods or rockers. Further disturbances followed on subsequent bank
holidays, attracting more police attention, more arrests, increased media
interest and more young people reacting to what they saw as heavy-handed
and unjustified treatment from the police.
The reaction to the initial disturbances over the Easter bank holiday not
only exaggerated the amount of deviance; it also generated more deviance.…read more

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Social Reactions to C&D/ Crime and Deviance/A2 SOCIOLOGY
contested". They also suggest that pressure groups and institutions such as
the police who aim to generate moral panics for their own ends are less
successful now in convincing media editors to launch them. The media they
say will no longer uncritically and reflexively. Finally they argue that fewer
individuals and groups are keen to stimulate moral panics because of the
threat of rebound.…read more


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