C + D Topic 3B

Social class and crime

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  • Created by: Sasha127
  • Created on: 20-04-15 08:19

Introduction

  • Reiner notes that theres a working class bias in the prison population 74% either unemployed or employed at the lowest occupational levels, prior to their imprisonment.
  • Hagel and newburn- study of youth detention centers found that only 8% of persistent offenders came from middle class backgrounds.
  • Offences can also be differentuated by social class, mc offenders tend to be accociated with white collar crime, fraud and tax evasion whilst wc offenders are mainly found guilty of burglary or street crime.
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Marxism: social class and crime

Marxism is the key perspective on this issue and the place to start any essay on this topic.

  • Marxism focuses on how the law and agents of social control act in the interests of the powerful rulling class. Actions of the wc are the result of their poverty and disadvantage are clamped down on whereas the immoral actions of the rulling class are either ignored, dealt with informally or not defined as illegal at all. Later in this topic the issues of corporate and white collar crimes are dealt with- work on these areas is often influenced by a marxist or neo marxist perspective.
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White collar and corporate crime

What is white collar crime?

  • The study of white collar crime originated from the work of Sutherland in the 1940's leading to two confusing and overlapping traditions

Studies  of occupational crime- how and why people steal from the copany and the public in activities accociated with their jobs for example the employee who claims false expenses or who over charges customers and keeps the aditional amount.

Much mosre important as a feild of study is corporate crime- crime by buisnesses or corporations which has a serious physical or economic impact on employees, consumers or the general public. Corporate crime is motivated by the desire to increase proffits.

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White collar and corporate crime

What is white collar crime?

  • The study of white collar crime originated from the work of Sutherland in the 1940's leading to two confusing and overlapping traditions

Studies  of occupational crime- how and why people steal from the copany and the public in activities accociated with their jobs for example the employee who claims false expenses or who over charges customers and keeps the aditional amount.

Much mosre important as a feild of study is corporate crime- crime by buisnesses or corporations which has a serious physical or economic impact on employees, consumers or the general public. Corporate crime is motivated by the desire to increase proffits.

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White Collar and corporate crime 2

The problem of the law and white collar offending

  • Very often when sociologists talk of white collar/ corporate crime they are not discussing actions which are illegal. That is if the company or person is "caught" no one may go in front of a judge and face possible personal risk of going to jail instead the crime studies may acturally be the breaking of supervisory codes (as in financial services) or technical standards (chemical content of consumer goods) or may refer to a whole range of actions which are it could be argued harmful and may even lead to deathy but arent stricktly speaking illegail. Examples of this are low safety standards at work,but which meet minimum legal criterea.
  • Nelkin- the debate about corporate crime is as much about corporate practices and sociologists biases about what is morally wrong as it is about breaking the law.
  • Some argue corporate crime laws ought to extend to the manufactioring of cigarettes or alchohol both of which are linked with illness and death
  • others point out that trans national companies manufactoring in pooer countries where safety standards are negligible are engaging human rights violetions and are therefore commiting crime even if they are acting in a perfectly legal way acording to the laws of the country where theyr'e manufactoring.
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White collar crime and corporate crime 3

Much of the debate about white collar and corporate crime goes beyond the limits of the law and looks at actions which have harmful concequences and in doing so takes us also beyojnd the limit of conventional criminology opening up debates about what the sociology or crime and deviance ought to study.

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The impact of corporate crime

  • Left realists- there are enormous costs of conventional crime to society as well as the damage it does to the quality of peoples lives.Those studying white collar and corporate crime argue that costs of conventional crime are actually dwarfed by corporate crime.
  • Conklin- pointed out that white collar and corporate crime in the usa " the direct cost of buisness crime surpassess the cost of such conventional crimes as larceny, burglaryy and auto theft the estimated cost for these crimes is 3/4 billion a year. This figure is of plae signifigance when compared with an estimated anual loss of 40 billion from various white collar crimes half that results from consumer frau illegal compatition and deceptive practices"
  • An example of this was the collaps of various financial institutions at the end of the 1980's in the USA- the result of financial missmanagment and sometimes down right fraud has cost in the region of a trillion dollars, yet interestingly this was largely covered by the US goverment "loan" which has covereed the deficit.
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The impact of corporate crime 2

  • The cost of coporate crime isn;t jsut economic. Carson studied the loss of life in the exploration for oil in the north sea resulting from the lack of concern by exploration companies for the safety issues of the workers. This was later tragically illustrated by the loss of 186 lives when the piper alpha oil rig exploded.
  • Corporations can practive a policy law evasion i.e setting up factories in countries that don't have pollution controls or adequete safety legislation rather than producing in countries with strcter standards. They may sell goods to poorer countries when the goods have been declared unsafe in the more affluent countries (a fairly common procedure with pharmaceuticals)
  • Box (1987)- has claimed that multinationals dump products, plants and practives illegal in industrial countries on to underdeveloped countries. Their able to do this because the poorer countries don't have the resources to control the large companies and also officials are likely to accept bribes. Corporate and white collar crimes are a major problem for society and actually cost society more than conventional crimes. What is interesting is how little attention is paid to it and how sanctions against those commiting it are relatively minor.
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Evaluation

  • Left realists suggest that its justifiable for the police and courts to spend less attention on white collar and corporate crime these crimes gnereally don't victimise poor individuals and don't have major imact on communities
  • However marxists argue theres an enormous loss to the economy of semi legal corporate tax evasions (google, amazon etc) and 5the impact of the misdeeds of global bankers. The educational system and national health service could be much improved if rich individuals and organsiations didn't seek to avoid tax.
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Evaluation

  • Left realists suggest that its justifiable for the police and courts to spend less attention on white collar and corporate crime these crimes gnereally don't victimise poor individuals and don't have major imact on communities
  • However marxists argue theres an enormous loss to the economy of semi legal corporate tax evasions (google, amazon etc) and 5the impact of the misdeeds of global bankers. The educational system and national health service could be much improved if rich individuals and organsiations didn't seek to avoid tax.
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Interactionalism; The work of cicourel

  • Interactionalists/ labelling theories beleive that the forces of social control may label and steryotype wc people.
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Key study Aron V cicourel- the negotiation of just

The work of Cicourel on the treatment of delinquency intwo californian cities provides a good example of how labelling theory has been aplied to the study of deviance. It shows how patterns that show a good relationsho between age, social class and crime may partly be a result of labelling and steryotyping by the police and courts.

Defining delinquency

The process of defining someone as delinquenst isn't claear cut, simple or unproblematic. Its complex involving a series of interactions based on sets of meanings held by the participants. These meanings can be modified during the interaction so each stage in the process is negotiable.

The fist stage is the decision for the police to stop and question the individual. This decision is based on meanings held by the police of what is suspicious or strage, unusual or wrong. Such meanings are related to particular geographical areas inner city low income areas are seen as bad areas with ghigh crime rate. Concequently behaviour in such areas is more likely to be veiwed as suspicions. Interogations may not lead to arrest the process is negotiable but depends largely on the picture held by the police of the typical delinquent. If the apearence, language and demeanour of the young person fits this picture he/ she is more likely to ber arrested.

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Key study Aron vs cicourel the negotiation of just

Once arrested the young person is handed over to a juvenile officer (probation officer) who also has a picture of the "typical delinquent". If the suspects background coresponds to this picture he or she is more likely to be charged with an offence. Factors assumed to be accociated with delinquency include coming from a broken home, exhibiting bad attitudes towards authority, poor school performance ethnic group membership and low income families.

Thereofore not surprising that cicourel found a close replationship between social class and delinquency. Most young people convicted of offences had fathers who were manual workers. On a seven class ocupational scale cicourel found that one third come from class 7.

Civourel explained the preponderance of working class delinquents by reference to the meanings held by the police and juveline officers and the interactions between them and the juveniles. When mc juveniles were arrested there was less likelihood of them being charged with an offence: their background didn't fit the standard picture of the delinquent. Their parents were able to negotiate succesfullyon their behalf. MC parents can present themselves as respectable and reasonable people from a nice neibourhood who look forward to a rosy future for their child.They promise cooperation with the juvenile officers assuring them that their son or daughter is suitably remorceful.

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Key study cicourel and the negotiation of justice

As a result the mc juvenile is often defined as ill rather than criminal, as acidentally straying from the path of richesness rather than commiting a wrong doing, as cooperative rather than recalcitraant as having a real chance of reforming rather than being a 'born looser'. He or she is typically 'counselled, wrned and released'. This he argues 'what ends up being called justice is negotiable'.

He based his reaserch in 2 californian cities each with a population of around 100,000. The socioeconomic characteristics of the two populations were similar. In terms of structural theories the number of delinquents produced by the pressures of the social structure should be similar in each city. However he found a significant difference in the number of delinquents arrested and charged arguing that this difference can only be accounted for by the size, organisation, policies and practices of the juvenile police bureux.

For example the city with the highest rate of delinquency employed more juvenile officers and kept more detailed records on offenders, in the second city the delinquency rate fluctuated sharply. He argues in this city the police responce rate to delinquency tends to be quite variable depending on publicity given the case by the local paper, or the pressure generated by the mayer or cheif or captain of detectives. Thus societal reaction can be seen directly to affect the rate of delinquency.

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Key study cicourel and the negotiation of justice

He argues delinquents are produced by agents of social control. Certain individuals are selected processed and labelled as deviant. Justice is the result of negotiation in the interaction process. The production of delinquents is also dependent on the ways in which police and juvenile beurous are organised, their policies and the pressures that are brought to bear on them from local media andf politicians.

In veiw of these observations he questions the structural and subcultural theories of deviance which see deviance as a product of pressure from the social structure.

Evaluation

  • Provides useful insight into juvenile justice in the USA and attempts to show how the meanings held by various officials lead to some individuals beeing defined as delinquent.
  • Some critics such as Taylor, Walton and Young argue cicourel fails to explain how subjective meanings originate. For instance why does the police see the typical delinquent as coming from a low income fmaily. In commin with other labbeling theories he doesn't explain who has power in society and how the possession of power might influcence the definition of C+D
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