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NON SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES
· Born with biological defect, or a defect that has developed during their lives.
· Theorists argue that some people may be more criminal that others due to their genetic
1. Lombroso (19th century)
He found that all criminals had genetically determined characteristics. E.g. large jaws, large ears,
extra nipples and high cheekbones.
2. Sheldon & Glueck (1940's and 50's)
They claimed to have found a relationship between physical build and crime/deviance. E.g. stocky,
rounded people are more aggressive, therefore more likely to be criminals.
3. Chromosome Abnormalities (1960's)
Normally females have two X chromosomes and males have one X and one Y. It's argued that
males who have a extra Y chromosome are more likely to commit crime.
Biochemistry can affect behaviour, but biological factors on their own cannot explain crime ...
· The deviants mind, rather than body are seen to be ill; therefore mental imbalances are
seen to be the cause of crime.
· These theorists argue that C/D lies in mental processes rather than physical differences.
He argues there's a link between genetically based personality characteristics, and criminal
behaviour. Individuals inherit personality that effects their behaviour. E.g. an extravert (outgoing)
personality is likely to break the law, because they're harder to socialise and control.
He observed early socialisation and said children needed emotional security, provided by the
mother, during their first 7 years. If the child's deprived of this love, they develop a psychopathic
personality, that's impulsive and lacks guilt.
Inadequate development of the superego part of the personality (under/over development), due
to insufficient socialisation, can lead to crime.
Criticisms of non-sociological theories:
· Body size can be determined by diet, occupation or living conditions.
· Environmental factors can influence. E.g. media, education, role of peers.
· Social cultural factors can also influence.
· These non sociological views lack scientific evidence. A02
· Not all scientific experiences can lead to crime and deviance.…read more
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· Crime and Deviance acts in a positive way, to reinforce and differentiate
between right and wrong, which can help lead to social change.
· They believe that a certain level of crime/deviance is healthy for society.
1) Durkheim (1938)-Functions of crime and deviance
· He argued that crime has four characteristics:
1. Inevitable-- Crime always exists, it can be reduced, but never eliminated.
2. Universal-- It's global, and different forms of it exists everywhere.
3. Relative-- What's seen as criminal in one society, may not be criminal in
another, and views change overtime. Thus crime/deviance is socially constructed.
4. Functional-- A limited amount of crime/deviance can benefit society.
· He believes that despite everyone in society agreeing on what's right and wrong,
boundaries of acceptable behaviour need to defined. This is the role of criminal
· Hence he says that crime/deviance play a positive role, as they allow norms and
values of society to be reinforced and strengthened. This is done through:
1. Marking acceptable behaviour The law marks the difference between
acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, each time an arrest is made.
2. The publicity function To make boundaries clear, some form of publicity is
needed. E.g. Media.
3. Legitimises social change crime helps society to recognise need for change in
society, leading to changes in the law.
4. Bonds are strengthened The fear and horror often experienced when a crime
is committed, strengthens bonds in society. E.g. 9/11, 7/7 and Woolwich
5. Deviance acts act as a safety valve Some crimes can help reduce stresses
which would otherwise threaten the stability of society. E.g. Prostitution, a
safety valve for the family.
6. Acts as a warning device Crime draws attention to societal problems, and
leads to solutions.…read more
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2) Merton (1949)-Strain Theory
· He supported Durkheim, by giving a detailed description of the causes of crime.
· He argued that types of crime exist because of the same American dream. To be rich,
successful and fulfilled-but not everyone achieves this legally.
· A strain exists between goals and ambitions of people and their ability to achieve
· There are five different ways to respond to the American dream:
S Conformity Response of the majority-doing what's expected to be
successful in life.
Innovation This can take legal and illegal forms. E.g. illegally people my
A commit robbery to make a financial profit.
G Ritualism A Deviant, not criminal response-giving up on the American
Retreatism Abandoning the American dream, turning to drink and drugs-
S deviant and can be criminal.
Rebellion American dream is replaced with criminal responses. E.g. 9/11
· Draws attention to current · Ignores individual differences -(cultural, age,
· Realise crime helps · Ignores that not being able to achieve the
differentiate between right American dream doesn't always result in crime.
and wrong. · Ignores that deviance doesn't always provide a
· Looks at positive side of safety valve, but can tear families apart.
crime. · Giving up on American dream doesn't always
· Can help lead to social result in crime.
change. · Ignores biological/psychological reasons for crime.
· Recognises causes of crime. · Creates divisions. E.g. Islamophobia.…read more
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· Sometimes crimes don't produce financial gain.
· Anti-social crimes such as vandalism, graffiti, and violent behaviour, need to be
considered studying gangs or subcultures.
· A subculture is a group within society whose members share common values and
have similar behaviour patterns, which tend to oppose the mainstream culture.
1) Cohen (1955)-Delinquent Subcultures-`Status Frustration'
· He argued that delinquent behaviour was most likely to develop amongst working
class boys, who did badly at school.
· Educational failure and dead end jobs led to them suffering from `status
frustration' (anger and resentment felt when aspirations are blocked).
· They recognised that status frustration can't be achieved through academic
success, but from peers participating in delinquent (antisocial/criminal) behaviour.
2) Cloward & Ohlin (1961)-Opportunity Structures
· They argue that working class boys can belong to three subcultures.
· The criminal subcultures (1) is found in stable working class areas, and status is
gained through gang membership, and most crimes lead to a financial gain.
· If this doesn't exist, a conflict subculture (2) may develop, which is concerned with
anti-social, violent and aggressive behaviour rather than making money.
· The final retreatest subculture (3) focuses on alcohol and drugs.…read more
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3) Miller (1962)-Focal Concerns
· He sees society as consisting of different social classes, each with distinct set of
values. Hence, there's a distinctive lower class subculture, which is passed on
· This could be due to low skilled labour, consisting of boring, repetitive dead-end
jobs, and unemployment.
· Hence WC boys get in trouble with the police just because they have different
norms to the rest of the population.
· These are called `focal concerns' and include:
Toughness- involves a concern for masculinity- `real men like to fight, drink
Trouble- accepting a life that involves violence.
Excitement- always looking for fun, and `having a laff'.
· This is what they value.
· These mean that WC men will often break rules, after having a drunken night out
with the lads.
· Thus miller says that not all WC boys break the law, but the focal concerns they
hold, make it inevitable that crimes will be committed.
Marxist Subcultural Theory
· WC boys may join gags as a form of resistance from capitalism, as they have
difficulty finding work.
· Joining gangs offers some kind of solution, to these problems, where they can join
equally disadvantaged lads.
· The solution is to provide better education and jobs, so they aren't forced into
Strengths · Not all working class boys resort to gangs
· Draws attention to gangs and reasons to · Some gangs aim to do good.
why they commit crime. · It ignores girls-gender specific
· Realise that gangs may commit crime top · Ignores cultures and ages.
gain status. · Not all gangs are working class , some
· Highlights class differences. include middle class individuals.
· Highlights other causes of crime e.g.