Miers (1989) defines positivist victimology as having 3 features:
- It aims to identify the factors that produce patterns in victimisation.
- It focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence.
- It aims to identify victims who have contributed to their own victimisation.
They look to identify the social and psychological characteristics of victims that make them different from, and more vulnerable than, non-victims.
Marvin Wolfgang (1958) studied 588 homicides in Philadelphia. He found that 26% involved victim precipitation - the victim triggered the events leading to the homicide, for instance by being the first to use violence.
Ignores wider structural factors influencing victimisation, such as poverty and patriachy.
Focuses on two elements:
- Structural factors such as patriachy and poverty. Mawby and Walklate argue victimisation is a form of structural powerlessness.
- The state's power to apply or deny the label of victim, 'Victim' is a social construct in the same way as 'crime' and 'criminal' Through the criminal justice provess, the state applies the label of victim to some but witholds it from others. (eg, safety crimes where employers' violations of the law lead to death or injury to workers, are often explained as the fault of 'accident prone' workers).
Criticial victimology disregards the role victims may play in bringing victimisation on themselves through their own choices (not making their house secure) or their own offending.
Patterns of Victimisation
Class: The poorest groups are more likely to be victimised, crime rates are typically highest in areas of high unemployment and deprivation.
Age: Younger people are at more risk of victimisation. Those most at risk of being murdered are infants under the age of one.
Ethnicity: Minority ethnic groups are at greater risk than whites of being victims of crime in general. Likely to report feeling "under-protected yet over-controlled".
Gender: Males are at greater risk than females of becoming victims of violent attacks. 70% of homicide victims are male. However, women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence.
Repeat Victimisation: If you have been a victim once you are very likely to be one again. According to the British Crime Survey, about 60% of the population have not been victims of any kind of crime in a given year, whereas a mere 4% of the population are victims of 44% of all crimes in that period.
The Impact of Victimisation
Crime may have serious physical and emotional impacts on its victims. For example, research has found a variety of effects (dependent on the crime), such as disrupted sleep, feelings of helplessness, and increased security-consciousness.
Secondary Victimisation: In addition to the impact of crime itself, individuals may suffer further victimisation at the hands of the criminal justice system. Feminists argue that **** victims are often so poorly treated by the police and the courts that it amounts to a double violation.
Fear of Victimisation: Crime may create fear of becoming a victim. Some sociologists argue that surveys show this fear is often irrational. For example, women are more afraid of going out for fear of attack, yet it is young men who are the main victims of violence form strangers.