Theory's of Crime and Deviance


I used these notes last year and they helped get 118/120 

look at my other sociology notes

I also did a videos using some of the notes:


RC = ruling class

WWC = white collar crime

CJS = criminal justice system

EMs = ethnic minorities

TNC's = transnational corporation

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  • Created by: Chantelle
  • Created on: 19-08-11 16:01
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Crime and deviance theories
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. Consensus theories such as functionalism and new right claim definitions of
crime and deviance are freely agreed and that social control protects all members of society. Conflict
theories such as Marxism claim that definitions of Crime and Deviance are imposes on the proletariat
by the bourgeoisie to serve the interests of the elite. When debating (DECODE). It is also important
to consider the concept of social control which is attempts to society to make its members conform,
social control can be ideological such as manipulating members of society or coercive which involves
psychical violence. In this essay I will discuss (DECODE).
o Structural and conflict theory
o The elite are powerful because they own MOP.
o The poor commit crime as a result if their inferior position in an unfair capitalist society
o The ruling class use social control (ideological and cohesive) to maintain capitalism and
power to bring about social class reproduction.
o The elite own MOP which gives them control of the super structure which are major
institutions e.g. education, criminal justice system, religion and media
o The super structure also includes the state which creates and passes laws. Therefore these
will be created in the interests of the ruling class and ignore WCC. This is selective law
creation and enforcement.
o The elite also control the media which is used for ideological social control such as moral
panic, deviance amplification and stereotypes.
o Education and religion are also used as agencies of social control
o `at the heart of the capitalism system is the protection of private property... criminal laws
well reflect this basic concern'. It protects the wealthiest money and power.
o Also the state is reluctant to pass laws which disadvantage the elite e.g. pollution
o Snider argues that wcc e.g. fraud is the most serious and antisocial of all crimes.
o Due to selective law enforcement (SLE) WCC is rarely caught and published
o A small amount is prosecuted by this also serves the ruling class. It gives the impression that
law is fair to all and the SLE is minimal.
o He focused on how capitalism is crimogenic meaning the ultimate cause of crime.
o The poor commit crime as part of their struggle to survive in this unfair society
o Capitalism is also based on greed which also encourages crimes.
o Alienation and lack of control over their lives leads to frustration and aggressive crime

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Gordon claims that crimes a rational response to capitalism and is found in all classes but
ignored in the ruling class
o It is important for the ruling class to disguise the crimeogenic nature of capitalism. In order to
prevent a revolution, therefore crime is often presented as a wicked or `evil' choice. Rather
than consequence of policy/exploitation.
o Largely ignores relationship between crime and important non-class inequalities (ethnicity
and gender).…read more

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o Structural, macro and consensus
o The first major theory to analyse crime
o Claim that a certain amount of crime is inevitable but also beneficial
o The force of social control must only have moderate energy i.e. if it is too high (strict) society
will stagnate; if it is too low anomie will occur
o A value consensus over culture is vital for social order i.e. individuals are socialised into this
consensus.…read more

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Jobs are dependent on crime e.g. police, judges, lawyers etc.
o Functionalists often ignore the issue of power in society.
o Feminists would argue that Functionalism is a 'malestream' area of sociology, and that
Functionalist theories ignored female deviance.
o Postmodernists would argue that society is now far more fragmented since functionalist
writers comprised their theories. The social order may not be present in society.…read more


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