A2 sociology - Crime and deviance

These cards are only meant as a summary for each topic; accompanying the AQA A2 sociology text book by Rob Webb et al.

  • Created by: Olly Kay
  • Created on: 20-03-16 15:06

Functionalist, strain and subcultural theories

For functionalists, society is based on value consensus, which deviance threatens, but it also performs positive functions such as reinforcing solidarity and adaption to change(Durkheim).  Other functions of crime include acting as a 'safety valve' in the case of prostitution (Davis) and acting as a warning that institutions aren't functioning properly (Albert Cohen).

Strain theories argue that deviance occurs when people cannot achieve society's goals by legitimate means.  (Merton) argues that this produces a 'strain to anomie' that may result in innovation, ritualism, retreatism or rebellion.  

Subcultural theories see much deviance as a collective rather than individual response. (A.K Cohen) argues that subcultural deviance results from status frustration and takes a non-utilitarian form.  (Cloward and Ohlin) see three different deviant subcultures (criminal, conflict and retreatist) arising from differences in access to illegitimate opportunity structures.  

Recent strain theories argue that capitalist economies generate greater strain to crime with Institutional anomie theory (Messner and Rosenfeld).

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Functionalist, strain and subcultural theories eva

A02 of Durkheim - He doesn't suggest how much crime is the 'right amount'.

- Just because crime serves a function, this isn't necessarily why it occurs.

- Ignore how crime affects different groups; 'functional for whom'?

- Crime may not lead to solidarity, but actually isolation; e.g. fear of **** amongst women.

A02 of Merton - Takes official crime statistics at face value; which portrays crime as a WC phenomenon.

- Ignores the power of the ruling class in shaping and enforcing laws. (Marxists)

- Assumes a value consensus re: 'money success'.

- Only accounts for utilitarian crimes for monetary gains, not violent crimes.

A02 of Cloward and Ohlin - Deterministic, over-predict extent of WC crimes.

- theory is reactive; assuming everyone has same goals (Miller) WC have independent goals

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Labelling theory

For labelling theory, an act only becomes deviant when labelled as such by others, through societal reaction.(Becker)  Not every offender is labelled, and labelling theory is interested in how the laws are selectively enforced against some groups by the agencies of social control.(Cicourel)  This means that official statistics are invalid: they only tell us about the types of people the agencies have labelled, not the real patterns of crime.

Labelling theory is interested in the effects of labelling.  It may cause the label to become the individual's 'master status' with primary and secondary deviance. (Lemert)  A deviance amplification spiral may result, in which increased control leads to increased deviance. (Stanley Cohen). 

Labelling theory has implications for criminal justice policies, suggesting we should avoid labelling individuals unnecessarily to avoid a self-fulfilling prohecy and a deviant career. (Triplett, De Haan, Braithwaite).

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Labelling theory evaluations

A02 of labelling theory

- Shows that laws are often enforced in discriminatory ways and crime stats often reflect the activity of control agents rather than criminals.

- Deterministic - Implying a deviant career is inevitable once someone is labelled deviant

- Emphasises -ve effects of labelling - Gives offenders a 'victim status'. (Ignores real vicitms)

- Assumes offenders are passive victims of labelling; they may choose to deviate.

- Fails to explain why we commit primary deviance; before we are labelled.

- Implies deviance wouldn't exist without labelling and deviants don't know they're deviating until they are labelled

- Fails to see the source of the power that creates deviance.  Marxists argue it doesn't see the link between labelling and capitalism; focusing on 'middle-range' officials such as Policed who enforce the laws rather than the capitalists who enforce them from the top.

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Marxist theories

Traditional marxists see crime as inevitable in capitalist society because it breeds poverty, competition and greed.  All classes commit crime, but because the ruling classes rule the state, the make and enforce the laws in their own interest (David Gordon).  This criminialises the WC whilst the ruling class escape punishment for their own corporate crimes. (Chambliss) (Snider)

The law also performs an ideological function by giving capitalism a caring face.  Laws are passed that appear to benefit the WC rather than capitalism, e.g. workplace health & safety laws.(Pearce) (W.G Carson). The portrayal of crime as a WC phenomenon through selective enforcement also divides the WC, who then blame criminals for their problems rather than capitalism.

Neo-Marxism or critical criminology (CC) is less deterministic. (Taylor et al.) It sees crime as a conscious meaningful choice often with a political motive - a rebellion against capitalism.  CC combines elements of marxism and labelling theory in a 'fully social theory' of deviance.

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Marxist theories evaluations

A02 of traditional Marxism - Ignores the relationship between crime and non-class inequalities, e.g. ethnicity and gender

- Deterministic; over-predicting WC crime: not all poor people commit crime despite in poverty

- Not all capitalist societies have a high crime rate; USA homocide rate 5.6 / Japan 1.0

- The state doesn't always act in capitalist interest; corporate crimes e.g. Nike

(Left Realists) - Marxists ignore intra-class crimes such as burglary; focusing too much on crimes of the powerful

A02 of Critical criminology - (Feminists) say it's 'gender blind' focusing on male criminality and ignoring that of women.

(Left realists)... - CC romanticises WC criminals as 'Robin Hoods' who are fighting capitalism

- CC do not take such crimes seriously, ignoring it's effects on WC victims.

- (Hopkins Burke) - CC is too idealistic to tackle crime, too general to explain crime

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Realist theories

Realists see crime as a real problem, especially for the poor.  

Right realists are conservatives.  they see the cause of crime as partly biological (James Q. Wilson and Hernstein) (Some are innately predisposed to offend) and partly social (e.g. inadequate socialisation)(Charles Murray)

They see crime as a rational choice based on calculating risks and rewards.(Ron Clarke)  Because causes cannot easily be changed, they focus on deterring offenders through prevention and punishment. (Wilson and Kelling: broken windows) / (Felson: routine activity theory)

Left realists are reformist socialists.  they argue that Marxists and labelling theorists have not taken crime seriously. (Jock Young, former CC)  They identify 3 causes of crime: relative deprivation, subculture and marginalisation(Lea and Young)

In late modern society, economic insecurity together with the media's materialistic messages is increasing relative deprivation. (Young)  The solution lies in accountable policing and tackling structural causes of crime.  (Kinsey, Lea, Young)

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Realist theories evaluations

A02 of Right realism - Ignores wider structural causes, e.g. poverty

- over-states offender's rationality and their 'cost-benefit evaluation; not explaining violent crime

- Viewing criminals as rational actors contrasts w/ their idea of individuals being predisposed to commit crime

- (Lilly et al)- Overstates bio facotrs; IQ accounts for less than 3% of differences of offending.

Ignores corporate crimes that may be more harmfu and focuses on petty street crimes.

A02 of Left realism - (Interactionists): as Lr's use quantitative data form surveys theyy cannot understand offender's motives,

- Use of subcultural theory means they assume value consensus exists and crime only occurs when this breaks down.

- Relative dep. can't fully explain crime; not all of those who experience it commit crime

- Focuses on high crime, inner city areas; making crime appear to be a big problem.

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Gender, crime and justice

Official statistics show that males commit more crime than females, but the chivalry thesis argues that they underestimate female offending because the criminal justice system treats women more leaniently. (Pollack) (Hood)  However, this may be because their offences are less serious. (Box)  Some feminists argue that the system is biased against women, expecially when they deviate from gender norms. (Heidensohn) (Stewart)

In explaining gender differences in offending, sex role theory focuses on socialisation.(Parsons)         Feminist theories emphasise patriarchal control that reduces females' opportunity to offend. (Heidensohn). (Carlen) argues that when the reward system for female conformity fails, females are likely to offend.  The liberationist thesis argues that as women become more liberated, they adopt 'male' patterns of offending. (Adler)

(Messerschmidt) argues that crime is a resource some subordinated men use to accomplish masculinity.  (Winlow) argues that globalisation and de-industrialisation mean that some men now achieve masculinity through participation in a combination of paid work and crime in the night-time economy.

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Gender, crime and justice evaluations

A02 of Female crime explanations (Heidensohn) (Carlen)C shows the failure of patriarchal society to deliver 'promised' deals to women preventing them from offending

-ves Both see women's behaviour as controlled by external forces; underplaying the imporrtance of free will.

- Carlen's sample was small/unrepresentative; focused on WC and serious offenders.

A02 of Liberation thesis (Adler)Female crime rate began rising in 1950's before the liberation movement (late 60s)

- Most female crime is WC; the group least likely to be affected by liberation

A02 of Male crime explanations (Messerschmidt) - Is masculinity an explanation of male crime or a description of male offenders?: circular argument

- Doesn't explain why not all men use crime to achieve masculinity

- Overworks the concept of masculinity to explain all male crimes; from joyriding to embezzelment

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Ethnicity, crime and justice

Official statistics show that blacks and other EM's are more likely to be stopped, arrested and imprisoned.  this may be because they are more likely to offend, or because of racism in the criminal justice system (Philips and Bowlings), or they are more likely to fall into demographic groups who are stopped.  Self-report studies show lower offending amongst minorities than whites.  Black defendants are more likely to be acquitted but if convicted are more likely to be jailed.

LR's argue that blacks do have a higher crime rate because of their greater relative deprivation and social exclusion, (Lea and Young) whereas Neo-marxists argue that black criminality is a social construction (Gilroy) serving to distract attention from the crisis of capitalism. (Stuart Hall et al)

Minorities are more likely to be victims of crime, (Macpherson report) whole being both over-policed and under-protected. 

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Ethnicity, crime and justice evaluations

A02 of victim surveys - Rely on victim's memory of events; (Bowling and Philips): victims may 'over-identify' blacks

- Exclude crimes by/against organisations; ignoring the ethnicity of corporate and white-collar criminals.

A02 of victim questionnaires (Hindelang)Black males with criminal records were less likely to report offences already known to the police.

- They dont question prisoners; under-representing non-white offenders

A02 of Lr's (Lea and Young) (Gilroy) Distorted view of police racism; Asian arrest rates may be lower than blacks as they're stereotyped differently, not that they're less likely to offend.

- These stereotypes have changed post 9/11; explains the rise of Asian crime since then.

A02 of Neo-marxists (Hall et al) - (Downes and Rock) -  H is inconsistent, claiming black street crime isn't rising, but saying it is rising due to unemployment.

- Don't show how the capitalist crisis led to a moral panic or evidence the public were panicking

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Crime and the Media

The media give a distorted image of crime.  For example, they over-represent violent crime (Ditton and Duffy) as well as sex crimes (Soothill and Walby) and exaggerate the risk of victimisation.  The fact that news is a social construction based on news values such as dramatisation and violence helps to explain the media's interest in crime. (cohen and Young).

Some see the media as causing crime, for example through imitation.(Bandura et al)  However, studies generally show only small and limited effects. (Schramm et al)  Left Realists argue thay the media increase relative deprivation amongst the poor, who then turn to crime to achieve the lifestyle portrayed by the media. (Lea and Young)

The media also cause moral panics, identifying a group as folk devils and exaggerating the threat they pose, leading to a crackdown and creating a deviance amplification spiral. (Stanley Cohen)  New media such as the internet have created new opportunities both for cyber-crime and for surveillance and control of the population. (Jewkes) (Wall)

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Crime and the media evaluations

A02 of media representation of crime -  Recent trends contrast w/ those stated; new TV now often features non-white 'underclass offenders rather than MC whites, police brutal or corrupt, not always good.

A02 of the media as a cause of crime (Scramm et al) "For most children TV is neither beneficial or harmful"

(Schlesinger and Tumber's) correlation between fear of crime + media consumption doesnt prove anything; those who may be afraid of crime may not go out at night and watch more TV.

(Sparks) - (Interpretivist) Media res. ignores the meanings we give to media violence; which we need to understand it's effects

A02 of moral panics - Assumes society's reaction is disproportionate, who decides what is 'proportionate'? / Why do we panic about some things and not others?

(McRobbie and Thornton) - In Late modern society, little consensus on what is 'deviant' - moral panics now have less impact, seen as routine

Re: global cyber crime; ICT provides police w/ +ves - CCTV, databases (Jewkes)

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Globalisation, green crime, human rights and state

Globalisation has brought with it the spread of transnational organised crime, for example trafficking drugs and people (Held et al).  

Globalisation also brings de-industrialisation and insecurity, which has lead to increased crime. (Ian Taylor)  It has also led to new forms of 'glocal' criminal organisation, with fluid networks and 'franchises' rather than the old mafia-style fixed hierarchies. (Hobbs and Dunningham).  Crime's relationship with globalisation is also evidence in (Glenny's) McMafia study of the rise of crime following the fall of communism in Russia.

We now live in a 'global risk society' where human-made threats include massive environmental damage. (Beck)  Green criminology adpots an ecocentric view and starts from the notion of harm rather than criminal law. (White)  It identifies both primary and secondary green crimes. (Carrabine et al) 

State crimes include genocide, war crimes and torture.(Mclaughlin)  The state has the power to commit massive human rights abuses and to legitimate its crimes using neutralisation techniques such as denial of responsibility. (Cohen) (Sykes and Matza) Human rights abuses are more likely to occur e.g. when the enemy is portrayed as sub-human. (Kelman and Hamilton)

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Control, punishment and victims

Situational crime prevention focuses on reducing opportunities for crime, e.g. through target hardening.(Ron Clarke)  One problem is displacement, where criminals respond by seeking softer targets. (Chaiken et al) Environmental crime prevention focuses on mending 'broken windows' and zero tolerance policy. (wilson and Kelling) Social and community prevention strategies attempt to tackle the root cause of offending. (Perry school project)  However, most prevention strategies ignore crimes of the powerful.

For functionalists, punishment functions to promote solidarity. (Durkheim)  Marxists believe it preserves the status quo and is shaped by the 'economic base'. (Rusche Kircheimer).   (Foucault) argues that disciplinary power now governs individuals through surveillance and self-surveillance.  Prisons have becomme the key institution of punishment and there is a trend towards mass incarceration.(Garland)   Community punishments may simply cast the net of control more widely. (Cohen and Innes)

Positivst victimology focuses on victim proneness or precipitation. (Miers)  Critical victimology emphasis structural factors such as poverty, and the state's power to apply or deny the label of a victim. (Tombs and Whyte) (Mawby and Walklate) The poor, the young and EM's are at greater risk of victimisation.

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Control, punishment and victims evaluations

A02 of crime prevention and control   - Assumes all criminals are rational, ignores external influences e.g. drugs, alcoholignores root causes of crime such as poverty or poor socialisation

- Approaches to tackling crime take for granted our definition of it; focusing on low level, interpersonal crimes of violence rather than white-collar state crimes

- The definition of the 'crime problem' reflects priorities of politicians and agencies who are tasked w/ the issue: (Whyte) studied the NW with chemicals which aren't on the agenda

A02 of Foucalt's 'birth of the prison' - The shift from corporal punishment to inprisonment is less clear than he suggests / He neglects the expressive (emotional) aspect of punishment / (Goffman) - Rejects his extent of control, claiming prisoners are able to resist such controls.

A02 of the positivist victinology- Can tip into victim blaming (Amir's claim re: 1/5 rapes) / Ignores wider structural factors / Wolfgang's study shows its chance which party becomes victim

A02 of critical victimology - Disregards the role victims may play in bringing crime on themselves / (+ve) valuable is showing the victim status is constructed + benefits the powerful 

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(Durkheim) Positivist uses suicide to demonstrate that a scientific sociology was possible.  Using official statistics, it would study social facts that shape our behaviour.  Two social facts, integration and regulation, determine the type and level of suicide.  He found a fourfod typology of suicide; egoistic, altruistic, anomic and fatalistic. Other positivists include (Hawlbachs) (Sainsbury) (Gibbs and Martin)

(Douglas) Interpretivist criticises Durkheim for using statistics, since these are merely the product of coroners' labels, and for ignoring actors' meanings.  He reccomends qualitiative case studies to discover these and the real rate of suicide.  (Jacobs) observed 112 suicide notes to understand the social meanings of suicide and attempted to classify them into six groups.

(Atkinson) Ethnomethodology interpretivist  disagrees that it is possible to discover the real rate.  Instead we should seek to uncover the commonsense theories and assumptions that coroners use in reaching a verdict, such as ideas about the mode of death.

(Taylor)'s realist approach aims to reveal the underlying structures of meaning that cause suicide.  He classifies suicides according to the degree of certainty and whether they are self or other-directed.

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Suicide evaluations

A02 of Durkheim - (Gibbs and Martin) believe Durkheim doesn't operationalise his concepts of integration (define in a way it can be measured). / His statistics were unreliable; 19th medical knowledge was limited and lackluster

(Douglas) - Suicide verdicts are the result of coroners' interpretations, not social facts.  Durkheim ignores the meaning of suicide for those who did the act, assuming it had a fixed meaning.

A02 of Douglas - No reason to believe sociologists are any better at classification than coroners.

(Sainsbury and Barraclough) - Suicide rates amongst US immigrants matched that of their native country, despite different labellers being involved.

A02 of Atkinson - (Hindess) (structuralist) see ethnomethodology as self-defeating;if we can gather interpretations from doing studies, than the sociologist's own account is merely an interpretation.

A02 of Taylor - No way of knowing Taylor's if Taylor's interpretation of actors' meanings are correct / He also  uses a small case study; unrepresentative. / (+ve) useful in explaining some patterns observed in the study of suicide.

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