A2 Sociology - Crime and Deviance

Attempting to make revision cards on crime and deviance, methods, and theories. 

Yes, starting these a week before the exam was hardly wise, but hey better late than never I guess :)

By the way, there are quite a few retarded spelling and grammar errors because I haven't had time to spell check them. But don't let that put you off seeing as the knowledge is there!

  • Created by: yammmmm
  • Created on: 10-06-12 23:00


Deviance is the socially constructed term used to describe behaviour which goes against the norms and values of a social group. It is culturally determined in society. 

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Functionalist Theory of Crime - Durkheim

Stable system. Value consensus. Social solidarity. Binding individuals together. 

  • Socialisation - Society instils a shared culture to ensure that members internalise the same values and act in the ways that society requires.
  • Social Control - Social control mechanisms include rewards for conformity and punishments for deviance. 

Crime as inevitable and universal despite disrupting social stability. In every society, some individuals are socialised inadequately and deviate. Individuals are increasingly different from one another, and shared norms are becoming unclear. Durkheim calls this anomie

Functions of crime:

  • Boundary Maintenance - Crime produces a reaction from society, uniting its members against the devianct individual. Punishment strengthens social solidarity.
  • Adaptation & Change - Individuals who challenge existing norms may be stigmatised as criminals at first. However, crime is the proof of a society's capacity for flexibility in the face of essential change.
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Evaluation of Durkheim

Criticisms of Durkheim:

  • He claims society requires a certain amount of deviance but offers no way of knowing how much is the right amount.
  • Postmodernists argue that Durkheim assumes society is stable and that social order is being maintained. This does not count for the diversity and instability that exists in modern society. 
  • He doesn't explain individual motivations for people breaking the law.
  • Durkheim explains crime in terms of its function. However, just because crime does these things, it doesn't explain why it exists in the first place.
  • Durkheim believes that the law is strong. However, if people are breaking the law this suggests that the law is weak.
  • He assumes that individuals have self control due to socialisation. He was wrong. The riots are a good example of this.
  • Marxists argue that Durkheim ignores the effect of power in relation to crime. Erikson argues that those in power set laws aswell as being able to choose who gets caught and who can get away with criminal acts. 
  • He doesn't really tackle crime on a large scale.
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Merton's Strain Theory

Deviance is the result of a strain between the goals a culture encourages individuals to aim for, and what the society's structure allows them to achieve legitimately. This combines...

  • Structural Factors - such as society's unequal opportunity structure.
  • Cultural Factors - like the strong emphasis on success and weak emphasis on using legitimate means to achieve success.

The American Dream emphasises money and success and Americans are expected to pursue this goal legitimately. The ideology claims that society is meritocratic, but in reality poverty and discrimination block opportunities. Merton sees American society as tending towards anomie because the norms are too weak to restrain people from using deviant means to achieve materialistic goals.

Merton explains patterns of deviance. An individuals position in the social structure affects how they adapt to the strain to anomie. He identifies five different adaptations:

Conformity. Innovation. Ritualism. Retreatism. Rebellion. 

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Evaluation of Merton


  • He shows how normal and deviant behaviour can arise from the same mainstream goals. Some groups pursue the same goals, but by different means.
  • He explains patterns shows by official statistics. Property crime is the most carried out crime because American society values material wealth. Working-class crime rates are higher because they have fewer legitimate opportunities.


  • He takes official crime statistics at face value and this is a very deterministic approach. Not all  working-class people deviate. 
  • He also ignores the power of the ruling class to make the laws.
  • Subcultural theory sees deviance as the product of delinquent subcultures, whereas Merton sees it as an individual response to strain
  • He ignores non-utilitarian crimes such as vandalism and assault which may have no economic motive.
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Albert Cohen - Status Frustration

Much deviance occurs from a lower class inability to achieve mainstream success goals by legitimate means.

Cohen argues that working-class boys face anomie in the middle class education system. They are culturally deprived and lack the skills to achieve, leaving them at the bottom of the status hierarchy. As a result, they suffer status frustration and reject middle class mainstream values, forming a subculture with others in their situation.

The subculture offers an illegitimate opportunity structure for boys who have failed to achieve legitimately. It provides an alternative status hierarchy where they can win status through delinquent actions.

Its values are spite and malice. It inverts mainstream values.

e.g. Society respects property, so they vandalise it.   

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Evaluation of Albert Cohen


  • He offers an explanation of non-utalitarian deviance


  • He assumes working-class boys start off sharing middle class values only to reject them when they fail. He doesn't consider the possibility that they never shared these goals in the first place and so weren't reacting to failure.
  • Cloward and OhlinNot everyone responds to a lack of legitimate means by turning to utilitarian crime. 
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Cloward and Ohlin - Three Subcultures

Not everyone responds to a lack of legitimate means by turning to utilitarian crime. Some subcultures resort to violence or drug use.

The key reason for these differences is that although not everyone has access to legitimate means, not everyone has access to illegitimate means too. Not every individual can become a successful safecracker.

Different neighbourhoods provide different illegitimate opportunities to develop criminal careers.

They identify 3 types of subculture:

  • Criminal Subculture - Adult criminals select and train youths with the right abilities, providing them with opportunities on the criminal ladder. 
  • Conflict Subcultures - Illegitimate opportunities are only within loosely organised gangs. 
  • Retreatist Subcultures - This is a drop out subculture based on illegal drug use.
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Evaluation of Cloward and Ohlin


  • They try to explain different types of working-class crime in terms of subcultures.


  • They ignore crimes of the wealthy and powerful. 
  • They make sharp boundaries between the types of subcultures. Howerver, in reality subcultures often show more than one type of characteristic. 
  • They wrongly assume that everyone starts off sharing the same goals.
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Social Construction of Deviance

Labelling theorists believe that no act is deviant in itself. Instead, deviance is socially constructed. An act only becomes deviant when labelled as deviant.

Becker: Social groups create deviance by creating rules and applying them to particular groups who were labelled as outsiders.

Social control agencies (the police, courts, etc) tend to label certain groups as criminal. Police decisions to arrest are based on stereotypes in dress, gender, etc.

Cicourel: Police use typifications of a 'typical delinquent' and those who fit the description are more likely to be stopped, arrested and charged. 

  • WC and ethnic minority juveniles are more likely to be arrested and charged.
  • Middle class juveniles are less likely to be charged and they also have parents who can successfully negotiate on their behalf. 

Crime statistics recorded by the police aren't very valid because the police patrol WC areas, resulting in more WC arrest. Cicourel argues that we should treat crime statistics as a topic not a resource, and investigate how they are constructed.

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Effects of Labelling

Primary Deviance - deviant acts that have not been publicly labelled.

Secondary Deviance - this results from societal reaction. Labelling someone as an offender can stigmatise and exclude them from society.

Being labelled may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy occurring in which the individual lives up to their label, resulting in secondary deviance. Lemert argues that by labelling certain people as deviant, society encourages them to be more so. It may even lead to them joining a deviant subculture.

Young studied hippy marijuana users. Drug use was initially peripheral to the hippies' lifestyle. Once the police persecuted them as junkies, this led to them retreating into closed groups and developing a deviant subculture where drug use became a central activity. 

Braithwaite identifies 2 typed of shaming (negative labelling):

  • Disintergrative shaming -  Both the crime and the criminal are labelled as bad. The offender is excluded from society.
  • Reintergrative shaming - labels the act but not the person. 
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Deviance Amplication Spiral

In a deviance amplification spiral, the attempt to control deviance leads to it increasing instead. This results in greater attempts to control it, which leads to even more deviance.

Folk Devils and Moral Panics

Cohen's study of the mods and rockers uses this concept:  

  • Media exaggeration and distortion began a moral panic. Public concern grew.
  • Police responded by arresting youths, provoking even more public concern. 
  • Labelling the mods and rockers as 'folk devils' marginalised them further, resulting in more deviance.
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Evaluation of Labelling Theory


  • Labelling theorists see control as producing further deviance. However, Functionalists see deviance producing social control. 
  • This theory is too deterministic. Not everyone accepts their label, therefore a self-fulfilling prophecy isn't inevitable. 
  • Labelling theory fails to explain why people commit primary deviance in the first place, before they have been labelled.
  • Marxists criticise this theory for failing to locate the origin of such labels in the unequal structure of capitalist society. 
  • Ignores the fact that individuals may choose deviance.
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Traditional Marxism and Crime

I already have an amazing handout on this, sorry guys :)

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Neo-Marxism and Crime

Taylor, Walton and Young agree with Traditional Marxists that Capitalism is based on exploitation and inequality. This is the key to understanding crime. The state makes and enforces laws that serve the ruling class. Capitalism should be replaced by a classless society in order to greatly reduce crime.

But Taylor criticises traditional Marxists for being too deterministic. He also rejects theories that claim crime is causes by external factors such as anomie

However, Taylor takes a more voluntaristic approach. This is the view that each individual has free will. Crime is a conscious choice, often with a political motive. Criminals are struggling to change society and they are expressing their frustration at Capitalist society by breaking the law.

Fully Social Theory of Deviance - This theory would help to change society for the better. It would have 2 main sources:

  • Traditional Marxist ideas about the unequal distribution of wealth, and who has the power to enforce laws.
  • Labelling Theory's ideas about the meaning of deviance for the individual and societal reactions to it.
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Evaluation of Neo-Marxism


  • Feminists criticise Marxists for being 'gender blind' as it focuses on male criminality and sometimes at the expense of women. No explanations are provided for racial attacks, **** and domestic violence.
  • Left Realists criticise Neo-Marxists for romanticising WC criminals as Robin Hoods fighting Capitalism by redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor. However, in reality, criminals simply prey on the poor.
  • Roger Burke argues that critical criminology is too general to explain crime and too idealistic to be useful in tackling crime.
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Moral Panic

An over-reaction by society to a perceived problem, usually driven by the media, where the reaction enlarges the problem out of all proportion to its real seriousness.

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Is Capitalism Criminogenic?

Why do the WC cause crime?

  • The official statistics show that there is an over-representation of WC criminals whilst there is a relative absence of criminal behaviour amongst the middle and upper class.
  • Because of their social conditions, including levels of employment, material deprivation and marginalisation from mainstream society.
  • Because of their characteristics, including their norms and values.
  • Due to a subculture of risk taking and positive attitudes to law breaking. 
  • Weak levels of self control.
  • Capitalism generates economic outcasts that turn to law breaking in order to survive.
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Realists differ from labelling theory and critical criminology, which see crime as socially constructed rather than a real fact
Realists see crime as a real problem, especially for its victims, and they propose policies to reduce crime.

Realist theories divide along political lines:

  • Right Realists share a New Right, conservative outlook and support a zero tolerance stance on crime. 
  • Left Realists are reformist sociologists and favour policies to promote equality. 
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Right Realism and Crime

Right Realism sees crime, especially street crime, as a growing problem. 

Right realists believe that other theories have failed to solve the problem of crime. They regard other theories such as labelling theory and critical criminology as too sympathetic towards the criminal. 

They are mainly concerned with practical solutions to reduce crime. The best way is through control and punishment, rather than rehabilitating offenders or tackling causes such a poverty. 

Causes of crime: 

  • Biological differences - According to Wilson and Herrnstein, crime is caused by biological differences between individuals making some people more likely to commit crime due to personal traits like aggressiveness.
  • The underclass - They see the nuclear family as the best agency of socialisation. It decreases the risk of offending by teaching self-control. However, Murray argues that the nuclear family is being undermined by the welfare state which is creating welfare dependancy. 
  • Rational Choice Theory - Clarke assumes that individuals are rational beings with free will. Choosing to commit a crime is based on whether the rewards outweigh the costs and consequences.
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Right Realist Solutions to Crime

Right Realists think it it pointless to tackle biological and social differences seeing as these are hard to change. Instead, they tackle the control and punishment of offenders rather than eliminating the causes of offending.

  • Wilson and Kelling - We must keep out neighbourhoods orderly to prevent crime. Signs of deterioration such as vandalism must be dealt with immediately. 
  • There should be a zero tolerance policy and police should control the streets to make people feel safe.
  • Crime prevention strategies should reduce the rewards of crime.


  • It ignores structural causes of crime like poverty.
  • If the police control certain neighbourhoods, it may result in the displacement of crime to other areas instead of reducing crime. 
  • It is only concerned about street crime. It ignores corporate crime.
  • It over-emphasises control of disorderly neighbourhoods.
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Left Realism and Crime

Left Realists are socialists. Like Marxists, they are opposed to the inequality of Capitalist society. However, unlike Marxists they are reformists not revolutionary. They believe gradual reforms are the only realistic way to achieve equality.

  • The main victims are disadvantaged groups - WC and ethnic minories.
  • There has been a real increase in crime.

Lea and Young identify 3 causes of crime:

  • Relative Deprivation - When individuals feel others unfairly have more, they may resort to crime to obtain what they feel entitled to. This is because the poor have access to the media's materialistic message. 
  • Subculture - This is a group's solution to relative deprivation. 
  • Marginalisation - Unemployed youths are marginalised. They have no organisations representing them and no clear cut goals. 
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Solutions to Left Realism

Democratic policing

Kinsey, Lea and Young argue that the police are losing public support. They therefore need to become more accountable to local communities by involving them in deciding policing policies and priorities. Crime control must involve a multi-agency approach - including schools, social services, housing departments. 

Reducing inequality

The main solution to crime is to remove social inequality. They call for major structural changes to tackle discrimination and unfairness of rewards. They would like to provide decent job and housing for all.


  • Marxists argue that it fails to recognise crimes of the powerful.
  • Over-predicts the amount of WC crime. Too deterministic.
  • Relies on quantitative victim surveys for data, whilst understanding offenders' motives requires qualitative data.
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Late Modernity

Young argues that in late modern society, since the 1970s, the problem of WC crime has become worse. This is due to...

  • Harsher welfare policies, increased unemployment, job insecurity and poverty. 
  • Destabilisation of family and community life, weakening informal social controls. 

Young notes other changes in late modern society...

  • Crime is now found throughout society, not just at the bottom.
  • There is also 'relative deprivation downwards' - hate towards asylum seekers and those sponging off benefits
  • There is less consensus over what is classes as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Families and communities are disintegrating. 
  • The public are less tolerant and demand harsher controls by the state.
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Gender and Ethinicity

Do women commit less crime?

Four out of five convicted offenders are male.

Official statistics underestimate the amount of female offending. 

  • Females are less likely to be reported. 
  • When women are reported, they are less likely to be prosecuted.

Feminists argue that the CJS is not biased in favour of women.

Carlen found that Scottish courts were more likely to jail women whose children were in care than women who were seen as good mothers.

Walklate argues that during **** cases, it is the female victim who is on trial trying to have her evidence accepted, not the male suspect. Women have to establish their respectability if their evidence is to be believed.

Dobash and Dobash found that police officers were very unlikely to make an arrest in cases of domestic violence. 

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Chivalry Thesis

This is the idea that women are less likely to be prosecuted. It argues that the CJS is more lenient towards women.

Pollak - men have a protective attitude towards women so they are unwilling to arrest, charge or convict them. Also, their crimes are less likely to appear in the official statistics which is why female crime is under-represented.

Evidence for the chivalry thesis:

  • Women are more likely to be cautioned than prosecuted. 
  • Hood - studied 3000 defendantsand found that women were a third less likely to be jailed. 

Evidence against the chivalry thesis:

  • Box - reviewed self-report studies and concluded that the official statistics were fairly accurate. 
  • Farrington and Morris - They studied a magistrates' court and found that women were not sentenced more leniently when the severity of their crime was taken int account.
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Functionalist Sex Role Theory

Parsons - focuses on gender socialisation and role models in the nuclear family to explain gender differences in crime. 

  • Women perform the expressive role at home, expressing gentleness and emotion.
  • Boys distance themselves by engaging in 'compensatory compulsory masculinity' which includes risk taking and aggression.
  • Men take on an instrumental role which is largely outside the home. This makes socialisation harder for boys. 
  • Cohen - the absence of an adult role model in the home means that boys are more likely to turn to all-male street gangs as a source of masculine identity. Here, they earn their status by acts of delinquency. 

However, this theory is criticised...

  • Feminists explain gender differences in offending in terms of patriarchy.
  • Walklate critised Parsons for assuming that because women are biologically capable of bearing children that they are best suited to the expressive role. Parsons is providing explanations based on biological assumptions. 
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Control Theory

Heidensohn: patriarchal control

Women commit fewer crimes because patriarchal society imposes greater control over women, reducing their opportunity to offend. This is because patriarchal control operates at home, in public and at work.

  •  Domestic work confines them to the house for long periods of time
  •  Men provide the threat of domestic violence and financial power.
  •  Daughters have less freedom. e.g. restrictions on staying out late.
  •  Media reporting of rapes frightens women into staying at home.

Carlen: class and gender deals.

She conducted unstructured interviews with 39 WC female offenders, and argues that most convicted serious female criminals are WC. She uses Hirschi's control theory...

  • Humans are controlled by being offered rewards in return for conforming to norms. Carlen identifies the class deal (working to earn a decent standard of living) and the gender deal (conforming to domestic work and being rewarded with a family life).
  • WC women are less likely to gain either, so they result to crime.  
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Liberation Thesis

Adler argues that as women become liberated from patriarchy, their offending will become similar to men's.

Women's liberation is leading to a new type of female criminal and a rise in the female crime rate. 

  • Patriarchal controls and discrimination have lessened, and opportunities have become more equal. 
  • There are women in serious positions at work and this gives then the opportunity to commit serious white-collar crime. Women no longer just commit traditional female crimes such as prostitution and shoplifting. 

Evidence is the recent rise in female crime according to the official statistics.

Criticism = female crime started rising before the liberation of women began.

Also, Box argues that female crime has increased due to unemployment and inadequate benefits. 

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Messerschmidt - Male Crime

Most offenders are men. 

The concept of masculinity explains this. 

Messerschmidt argues that masculinity is an accomplishment, something that men have to constantly construct and present to others.

Some men have more resources to draw upon:

  • Hegemonic masculinity is the dominant form of masculinity and the one that most men wish to accomplish. This is defined through paid work, heterosexuality and the ability to subordinate woman. 
  • Subordinated masculinities are a lower form of masculinity. Many lower-class and ethnic minority men lack the resources to accomplish hegemonic masculinity so they turn to crime. 

However, Messerschmidt notes that some middle-class men also use crime to achieve hegemonic masculinity in the first place, but in their case it is white-collar crime or corporate crime. 

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Evaluation of Messerschmidt


  • Is masculinity actually a measure of crime, or is it simply a description of male offenders?
  • There is no explanation put forward for why not ALL men use crime to accomplish masculinity. 
  • The concept of masculinity is over-worked. 
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Left Realists, Ethnicity and Crime

Lea and Young argue that ethnic differences in crime statistics reflect real differences in the levels of offending. 

  • They see crime as a product of relative deprivation, subculture and marginalisation. Racism has led to the marginalisation and economic exclusion of ethnic minorities. 
  • Media emphasis on consumerism also promotes relative deprivation by setting materialistic goals that many members of minority groups cannot reach by legitimate means due to discrimination. 
  • Even if police act in racist ways, it is unlikely to account for the ethnic differences in statistics. e.g. Blacks have a much higher crime rate than Asians, despite both groups being an ethnic minority. Also, it must be remembered that 90% of crime is reported by the public and not actually found by the police.  

Lea and Young conclude that...

  • Statistics represent real differences in offending. 
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Neo-Marxism, Ethnicity and Crime

Gilroy and Hall et al criticise the view that the statistics reflect reality. Rather, they are an outcome of a social construction process that stereotypes minorities as more criminal than whites. 

The Myth of black criminality.

Gilroy argues that in reality, these groups are no more criminal than any other ethnic group, but because the CJS act on these racist stereotypes, minorities are criminalised and appear greater in numbers in official crime statistics.

Gilroy agrees with critical criminology. Much working-class crime is an act of resistance towards Capitalism.

Hall et al -  During the 1970s there was a moral panic over mugging being a 'black' crime. However, this occurred at the same time as the crisis of capitalism. It served as a scapegoat to distract attention from the true cause of society's problems such as unemployment. It also weakened the opposition to capitalism over racial grounds. 

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Media Representations of Crime

Williams and Dickinson found that British newspapers devoted 30% of their news space to crime, of which 60% is violent crime. The media therefore play a powerful role in amplifying and over representing crime.

The media give a distorted image of crime compared to official statistics

- It over-represents violent and sexual crimes. 

- It portrays criminals and victims as older and more middle-class. Felson calls this 'age fallacy'. 

- They exaggerate police success in clearing up cases.

- They ask exaggerate the risk of victimisation.

The news is a social construction. Some stories are selected, others rejected.

Cohen and Young: the news is not discovered, but manufactured.

If a crime can be told in terms of 'news values' (immediacy, dramatisation, higher-status persons, risk, violence) then it has a better chance of making the news.

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Media as a Cause of Crime

The media have had a negative effect on the attitudes and behaviour of those that are most easily influenced, such as the young, lower classes and the uneducated. 

Ways in which the media might cause crime:

  • Providing deviant role models, resulting in 'copycat' behaviour.
  • Through violent imagery and repeated viewing of violence.
  • By transmitting knowledge of criminal techniques, or glamourising crime. 
  • Advertising unaffordable goods to influence stealing.

Media exaggerations may cause an unrealistic fear of crime. Schlesinger and Tumber found that tabloid readers and heavy TV users were afraid of going out at night.

Lea and Young argue that the media increased relative deprivation amount marginalised groups. Even the poorest people have media access with materialistic images. This stimulates a sense of social exclusion, leading to crime.

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Media, Moral Panics, & Perspectives.

Functionalists: They see moral panics as a way of responding to the sense of anomie created by change. The media raise the collective consciousness and reassert social controls when central values are threatened. 

Neo-Marxism: Moral panics distract from the real crisis of Capitalism.

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Global Cybercrime

Thomas and Loader: define cybercrime as computer-mediated activities that are illegal or considered illicit, and are conducted through global electronic networks.

Jewkes: The internet creates opportunities to commit crimes such as fraud and software piracy. 

Wall identifies 4 types of cybercrime: hacking, identity theft, *********** and violence. 

Policing cybercrime is difficult due to the sheer scale of the internet and due to its globalised nature. 

ICT provides the state and the police with greater opportunities for surveillance and control. This is through CCTV cameras, electronic databases and digital fingerprinting. 

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White-Collar Crime

Sutherland defines this as...

Crimes committed by persons of high social status and respectability in the course of their occupations. It includes bribery, corruption, misconduct by professionals, and the breaking of trade of safety regulations. 

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David Held et al defines this as...

The increasing interconnectedness of societies in all aspects of life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual. 

Globalisation has many causes:

  • The spread of new ICT
  • The influence of the global mass media
  • Cheap air travel
  • Deregulation of financial markets.
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Globalisation and Crime

Held et al argues that there has been a globalisation of crime. Crime  has spread across national borders, and there has been a spread in transnational organised crime

Castells argues that there is a global criminal economy worth trillions. This is in the form of: Body trafficking, sex tourism, drugs trafficking, cybercrime, green crime and terrorism. These crimes usually depend on supply and demand relationships.

Stan Cohen: talks about global risk consciousness. The media heighten our awareness of risk, which raises our levels of insecurity. Social control becomes intensified as a result. e.g. border control regulations have become more strict.

From a Marxist perspective, Taylor argues that globalisation has led to global capitalism and greater inequality. For example, TNCs can switch their manufacturing to low-wage countries to gain higher profits. 

Amongst the poor, greater insecurity has encouraged crime. e.g. 20% of people living in Columbia are dependant upon the cocaine trade for their living. 

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Green Crime

Green crime refers to crime and harm done towards the environment. 

Beck argues that most threats to hum a well-being and the eco-system are now inflicted by humans rather than natural disasters. 

The increase in productivity has led to new 'manufactured risks' which have serious consequences for humanity. e.g. Climate change. These risks are on a global scale, so Beck refers to them as 'global risk society'. 

South identifies 2 types of green crime: 

  • Primary green crimes result directly from the destruction of the earth's resources. e.g. air pollution, deforestation, species decline, and water pollution. 
  • Secondary green crime involves the flouting of rules aimed at preventing environmental disasters. e.g. Illegal waste dumping at a global scale occurs because dumping toxic waste is expensive. Businesses ship their waste into third world countries and in some cases it isn't classes as illegal because these countries do not have the necessary legislation outlawing it. 
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"Durkheim - Laws give you boundaries" - however, there aren't many laws for green crime.  Also, legal definitions cannot provide a consistent global standard of environmental harm. Green criminology is also transgressive. White argues that we should therefore label harmful acts as criminal.

Traditional Criminology - Only studies the patterns and causes of law-breaking. EG. If pollution is legal, then traditional criminology is not concerned with it.

Green Criminology - This is more radical. It starts from the notion of harm rather than criminal law. 

There are 2 views of harm:

  • Anthropocentric view - TNCs argue that humans have the right to dominate nature, putting economic growth before the environment.
  • Ecocentric view - This sees humans and the environment as interdependent. 

e.g. Toxic waste is expensive to dispose legally, so Western businesses ship waste to third world countries where costs and safety standards are lower.

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State Crime

Green and Ward define state crime as...

illegal or deviant activities perpetrated by or with the complicity of state agencies. This includes genocides, war crimes, torture, imprisonment without trial and assassination. 

McLaughlin identifies 4 categories of state crime: 

  • Political
  • Ecomonical
  • Cultural
  • Crimes by security and police forces
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The scale of state crime

The state's power allows it to commit extremely large-scale crimes with widespread victimisation. e.g. Cambodia 1795-1978.

The state's power also means that it conceals its crimes and evades punishment more easily. Because the state defines what is criminal, it also has the power to avoid defining it own harmful acts as deviant. 

National sovereignty makes it difficult for external authorities such as the UN to intervene.

State crime can be examined through human rights:

  • There is no agreed list of human rights, but they include natural rights. A right is an entitlement that acts as a protection against the state.
  • Herman and Schwendinger argue that we should define crimes in terms of violations of human rights, rather than the breaking of legal rules.  

Stan Cohen argues that the state conceal and legitimate human rights crimes.

Dictatorships deny abuse and follow a spiral of denial

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Situational Crime Prevention

These approaches rely on reducing opportunities for crime. They target specific crimes by managing the environment. They increase the risks and reduce the rewards for committing crimes. e.g. CCTV.

'Targer hardening' - includes locking doors, security guards, reshaping the environment. 

This is a rational choice theory: criminals act rationally and weigh up options. 

However, it may simply displace crime instead of reducing it.

It also does not explain white-collar, corporate and state crime. 

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Environmental Crime Prevention

Wilson and Kellig argue that 'broken windows' that aren't dealt with send out a message that no one cares, prompting a spiral of decline. 

An absence of formal social control such as the police, and informal social control such as the community, make members of society feel intimidated and powerless.

The solution: Crack down on disorder through an environmental improvement strategy and a zero tolerance policing strategy

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Social/Community Crime Prevention

These strategies emphasise dealing with social conditions rather than policing. 

These are long-term solutions attempting to target the root causes of offending rather than short-term removal of opportunities.

Poverty is a cause of crime, so social policies like full-time employment policies are likely to reduce future crime. 

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There are different justifications for punishments...

  • Deterrance - Punishment may prevent furute crime from fear of further punishment. 
  • Rehabilitation - Reforming & re-educating offenders so they no longer offend. 
  • Incapacitation - Removing the offender's capacity to re-offend, e.g. by execution, imprisonment. 
  • Retribution - The idea that society is entitled to take revenge for the offender having breached its moral code. 

Durkheim: the function of punishment is to uphold social solidarity

  • Retributive Justice - Traditional society has a strong collective conscience, therefore punishment is severe. 
  • Restitutive Justice - In modern society, there is an extensive interdependence between individuals. Crime damages this, and the function of justice should be to repair this damage through compensation.  
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Punishment (continued)

Marxists argue that punishment is part of the 'repressive state apparatus' that defends ruling-class property against the lower classes. Punishment therefore reflects the economic base of society. 

Under capitalism, imprisonment becomes the dominant punishment because time is money, and offenders pay by doing time. 

Focault: The birth of the prison

Focault analysed punishment in its social context. In pre-modern society, punishments were a visible spectacle, e.g. public execution. From the 19th century, disciplinary power became dominant.

Focault uses the panopticon to illustrate this. It is a prison design where prisoners' cells are visible to the guards but the guards are not visible to the prisoners. Surveillance soon turns into self-surveillance because the prisoners don't know if they are being watched so they constantly act as though they are. 

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Trends In Punishment

1. Changing role of prisons - Previously prisons were mainly a place for holding offenders. Now imprisonment is seen as a form of punishment itself. However, with the amount of people reoffending, it may just be a way of making bad people worse.

Politicians have called for tougher prison sentences, resulting in a rising prison population. Most prisoners are young, male and poorly educated. Ethnic minorities are over-represented. 

2. Transcarceration - People are moving between different prison-like institutions. e.g. Care home, young offenders institution, adult prison. There has been a blurring of boundaries between criminal justice and welfare agencies. e.g. Social services, health and housing are increasingly given a crime control role. 

3. Alternatives to prison - There has been a growth in the amount of community based controls. e.g. Curfews, tagging, community service orders. Cohen argues that rather than diverting young people away from the criminal justice system, community controls may divert them into it. 

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Victims of Crime

Our definition - those who have suffered harm through acts that violate the law.

Christie argues that this is also a socially constructed category of people. 

  • Positivist Victimology focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence. Victim proneness = Characteristics that make victims more vulnerable. 
  • Critical Victimology focuses on structural factors like patriarchy and poverty. It places powerless groups such as women and the poor at greater risk. 

Patterns of Victimisation 

  • 4% of the population are victims of 44% of all crimes. Less powerful groups are more likely to be repeat victims. 
  • The poor are more likely to be victims. 
  • The young are more vulnerable to assault, sexual harassment, theft, abuse.
  • Minority groups are at greater risk than whites.
  • Males are at greater risk of violent crimes. Females are at greater risk of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and harassment.
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The Impact of Victimisation

Crime may have a serious physical or emotional impact on its victims. e.g. feelings of helplessness, increased security-consciousness, difficulties in socialising. 

Crime may also create 'indirect' victims - friends, relatives and witnesses.

Hate crimes against minorities may create 'waves of crime' that intimidate whole communities. 

Secondary victimisation - In addition to the impact of the crime, individuals may also suffer further victimisation in the CJS.

Crime may create a fear of becoming a victim even if such fears are irrational.  e.g. Women may be afraid of going out at night for fear of attack. 

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Positivism and Suicide

Positivists believe society can be studies scientifically. 

Durkheim - there are patterns in suicide and their social causes can be discovered. Bevahiour is caused by social facts. These are sources found in the structure of society. They are external to individuals and exist on a different level. 

Using official statistics, Durkheim found that different societies have different rates of suicide. Within a society, rates vary between social groups. Patterns show that suicide rates are the result of 2 social facts: 

  • Social Intergration - how far individuals experience a sense of belonging. 
  • Moral Regulation - how far individuals' actions are kept in check by norms.

Durkheim's Typology of suicide gives 4 types of suicide:

Egotistic suicide. Altruistic suicide. Anomic suicide. Fatalistic suicide. 

Traditional society = Altruistic and fatalistic suicide.

Modern society = Egotistic and anomic suicide. 

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Interpretivism and Suicide

Interpretivists focus on the meanings of those involved e.g. the deceased, coroners, relatives. 

Douglas takes an interactionist approach. He rejects Durkheim's use of statistics. They aren't social facts, they are social constructs based on corners interpretations of death and they are influenced by others. 

Douglas uses qualitative data, such as suicide notes, diaries, interviews with survivors. 

Atkinson argues that social reality is a construct of its members. He agrees with Douglas that statistics are the result of coroner's interpretations. However, he believes that neither researchers or coroners classify deaths objectively. 

He studied coroner's notes and court documents. He came to the conclusion that coroners have a common sense theory about typical suicides. 

Taylor identifies 4 types of suicide: 

Submissive. Sacrifice. Thanatation. Appeal. 

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Which unit is this for? **



Maria wrote:

Which unit is this for? **

^ Unit 4, Crime and Deviance :) 



You missed out suicide :/ other than that it's great though x



Olivia wrote:

You missed out suicide :/ other than that it's great though x

^ I know hun, sorry. I haven't actually gotten round to finishing them yet but hopefully I will before the exam!!!



What does WC mean?



WC is working class :)

Selina Khatun


Thank You :)

Tami Sowemimo


This is sooo helpful, thanks a lot :) !



I give soo much credit to you, well done for doing this life saver!



You are an absolute star for doing this! thank you so much!! :)

Iqrah A Ahmed


I cannot find your handout on Marxism :(

Oliver Robinson


great piece of work, real real help much appreciation!






great! ;)



this is amazing! thank you so much 

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