Crime and Deviance



A functionalist analysis of deviance begins with society as a whole. It looks for the source of deviance in the nature of society rather than the individual.

Organic Analogy - Like pain in the body of society, it helps to preserve the organism but it is nevertheless unpleasant. Punishment is the antidote to crime. The social reaction to the offensiveness of crime helps to reinforce collective sentiment and keeps crime low and society balanced.

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Functionalist DURKHEIM

Durkheim (1938) argues that crime is inevitable, universal, relative and functional. A certain amount of crime and deviance could be seen as functional and positive for society:

  • Crime creates social integration as it bonds society together against criminals

  • Strengthens social control & the collective conscience

  • Gives society an opportunity to condemn the deviant behaviour

  • Reasserts boundaries around acceptable behaviour.

  • Necessary to generate social change – challenge old outdated ideas

Durkheim believed that in stable societies crime was low because of a shared value consensus however when crime & deviance occurred it was the result of anomie – where a breakdown of social expectations has occurred e.g. poor socialisation or during time of revolution/riots. However there is evidence that some crime lead to social solidarity (e.g. London riots led to community ‘clean up’ projects).

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A03 Criticisms for Durkheim:

  • It is not clear at what point the “right” amount of crime (necessary and beneficial) becomes “too much” (creating disorder and instability).

  • The term anomie is very vague and can’t be measured

  • Does not adequately explain why some people commit crimes and others do not, or why they commit particular offences.

  • Assumes that norms and laws reflect the wishes of the population and does not consider the possibility that a powerful group is imposing its values on the rest of society

  • If crime is inevitable, what is the function of punishment?

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Functionalist MERTON

Merton (1968) argues deviance results from the culture and structure of society, with the American Dream.Merton argues that in the USA great importance was attached to financial success and relatively little importance was given to the accepted ways of achieving success.Society was unstable and unbalanced – so there was a tendency for people to ‘reject the rules of the game’ and strive for success by any available means e.g. crime

There are 5 possible ways that members of American society can respond to the financial goals:

  1. Conformity (non-criminal, non-deviant conformist citizen)

  2. Innovation (can’t achieve goals but stick to means)

  3. Ritualism (give up on achieving goals, but stick to means)

  4. Retreatism (drop-outs who give up altogether)

  5. Rebellion (Reject existing goals but substitute new ones to create a new society)

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AO3 Evaluation for Merton:

  • Strengths:

  • Merton offers a solution; to produce equal opportunities in society

  • Merton begins to offer a fuller functionalist account of both the nature and extent of deviance by building on the work of Durkheim.

  • Weaknesses:

  • Taylor (1971) argues that Merton fails to recognise wider power relations. He does not explain where the goals (American Dream) have come from or whose purpose they serve.

  • Assumes there is a value consensus and people deviate because of structural strain in society

  • Not all crime is for economic gain

  • Anomie (though defined differently) is a difficult term to operationalise(define/understand)

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Functionalist DURKHEIM v MERTON



  • Both use the term anomie.

  • Both start from the premise that there is a value consensusin society.

  • Both believe social control will reduce crime.


  • Durkheim – focuses on the purpose of crime

  • Merton – focuses on the causes of crime

  • Durkheim – anomie = normlessness/moral confusion, usually the result of poor socialisation, that weakens a person’s commitment to shared rules and encourages deviance.

  • Merton – anomie = a state of frustration and normlessness created by the strain people feel between financial success goals in their society and legal means of achieving them

  • Durkheim – doesn’t recognise inequality

  • Merton – recognises inequality and blocked opportunities

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Functionalist Control Theory

HIRSCHI suggests that most people would commit crime if they had the chance. What stops them is the strength of their social bonds with other people. There are four social bonds that if weakened or broken, the individual will turn to crime

o   Commitment to conventional activities  

o   Attachment to those around them

o   Beliefs – moral/religious

o   Involvement with the community e.g. sports


+  It recognises the importance of social integration in encouraging people to avoid    crime

-       It assumes that those who commit crime and deviance have broken away from the bonds tying them into mainstream values, but Merton’s theory and Matza’s work suggest that criminals are committed to those values

-       Does not explain why some have weaker bonds than others or why all those with weaker bonds do not turn to crime

-       Does not explain the variety of forms of deviance and crime

-       It does not recognise that it is possible to be deviant and have tight social bonds

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Subculture theory COHEN

Albert Cohen (1955) argues working-class boys experience status frustration because they are stuck at the bottom of the stratification system with most avenues to success blocked. Youths rebound from conventional failure (e.g. in schooling). Faced with failure they choose a delinquent subculture where they are able to invert mainstream values in order to achieve status.

This gives working-class youths an opportunity to achieve some status in their peer group which they are denied in the wider society. Cohen identifies elements of revenge in this subculture, to get back at society that has denied them status. This element of revenge helps to explain why a lot of juvenile offenses (such as vandalism, joy-riding, fighting and general anti-social behaviour) are not motivated by a desire for financial gain, but rather by a desire for per-group status by being malicious and causing trouble

Delinquency is a collective rather than an individual response to status frustration and their position in the class structure – the delinquent subculture give these individuals a chance for recognition and prestige in the eyes of their peers (stealing = glory, prowess & satisfaction).

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Subculture theory COHEN EVALUATION

AO3 Evaluation of Cohen

  • Strengths:

  • It helps to explain working-class delinquency as a group response rather than an individual

  • Helps to explain non utilitarian crime

  • Weaknesses:

  • Makes an assumption that young working-class delinquents accept mainstream values as superior and desirable and develop delinquent values only as a reaction to what they can’t achieve.

  • Miller (1962) argues that it is false to suggest lower working-class delinquents reject mainstream values, as they have always had their own subculture

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Labelling Theory BECKER

Suggests many people involve themselves in some deviant or illegal behaviour, so it is hard to sustain a distinction between deviants and non-deviants; attempts to find the causes of crime are therefore pointless. Seeks to explain why only some people and some acts are defined as deviant or criminal, while others carrying out similar acts aren’t. Official crime statistics are regarded as social constructs, showing only an unrepresentative group of offenders who have been caught and publicly labelled as criminals.

Becker (1997) highlights the social construction of deviance by stating ‘No action in itself is deviant.’ He suggest that an act only becomes deviant when others perceive and define it as such, and whether or not the deviant label is applied will depend on the societal reaction.

Becker uses the following key terms in labelling theory:

Selective policing: The police operate with pre-existing conceptions and stereotypes of what constitutes ‘trouble’, criminal types, criminal areas – this influences how they respond to the different behaviour they come across.

Master labels: One that displaces all other features of a person’s social standing – a person is judged solely in terms of one defining characteristics.

Deviant careers: Is where people who have been labelled deviant find conventional opportunities blocked to them and so are pushed into committing further deviant acts.

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Labelling Theory CICOUREL

Cicourel (1976) found that typifications (their common sense theories or stereotypes of what the typical delinquent is like) led them to concentrate on certain types. This resulted in law enforcement showing a class bias, in that working class areas and people fitted the police typifications most closely.

He found that other agents of social control within the criminal justice system reinforced this bias. In Cicourel’s view, justice is not fixed but negotiable (when middle class youths are arrested, he is less likely to be charged as his background doesn’t fit with the police officer’s idea of a typical delinquent)

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Labelling Theory JOCK YOUNG

Jock Young (1971) – Labelling and marijuana users

Notting Hill Hippies

  1. The police tended to see hippies as dirty, scruffy, unstable, immature drug addicts.

  2. Police reaction to these ‘hippies’ in terms of these ideas, could fundamentally alter and transform the social world of the marijuana smoker.

  3. Police action against the marijuana users tended to unite the hippies and made them feel different.

  4. In defence, they retreated into small, closed group.

  5. They excluded outsiders for reasons of security and because the developed a deviant self-concept which made it more difficult to include members of conventional society.

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Labelling Theory CRITICISM

CRITICISMS =  Labelling theory ISN’T useful

  • Doesn’t explain why people commit deviant acts

  • Left realists such as Lea and Young (1984) attack interactionists for too readily explaining away working class/black crime as a social construction. They argue that such groups docommit more crime and there are real social reasons for it.

  • Whilst Marxists argue that the theory has a weak view of power and social control.  For example, the theory fails to explain why crime and deviance is socially constructed or consider the wider structural origins of crime and deviance – e.g. criminogenic capitalism / crisis of hegemony. This suggests that labelling theory only offers a partial view on crime and deviance.

  • It is too deterministic and assumes that once a person has been labelled, their deviance will inevitably become worse

  • Labelling theory has too much sympathy for the deviant

  • Marxist argue there is much focus on the working class and not enough on Corporate crime, which reinforces the idea that the working classes are the deviants

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Labelling Theory CRITICISM 2

CRITICISMS =  Labelling theory IS useful

  • It doesn’t treat OS on crime as fact it could be argued that not treating OS as fact is a strength because it reveals how OS can be a product of bias and inaccurate law making, which highlights the weakness in other sociological approaches who take them for granted.

  • It has generated a great deal of subsequent research into the effects of labelling. This suggests that interactionist ideas have made a major contribution to the study of crime and deviance.

  • Labelling theory opened up the whole question on who has power in society to not only make the rules but to apply them to certain individuals and drawn our attention to considering why some groups have power and other groups are powerless.

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Marxism Theory

Marx argued that the laws were generally the codified means by which one class, the rulers, kept another class, the rest of us in check. Marxists recognise that for a society to function efficiently, social order is necessary. However, apart from communist societies, they consider that in all societies, one class – the ruling class – gains far more than other classes.

Marx argued that the laws were generally the codified means by which one class, the rulers, kept another class, the rest of us in check. Marxists recognise that for a society to function efficiently, social order is necessary. However, apart from communist societies, they consider that in all societies, one class – the ruling class – gains far more than other classes.

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Marxism Theory ALTHUSSER

Althusser said the law is an ideological state apparatus which makes sure it remains normal to have some people that are obscenely wealthy and others that are obscenely poor.

Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class at any human cost, to profit from their labour. He believed:

  • Crime is the only way to survive poverty

  • Crime is the only way to obtain consumer goods = utilitarian crime

  • Alienation can create frustration = non-utilitarian crime

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Marxism Theory strengths

  • It offers a useful explanation of the relationship between crime and capitalist society as a driving force for crime.

  • It shows the link between law making and enforcement and the interests of the capitalist class and by doing so it puts selective law enforcement into the wider structural context of class inequality

  • There are many examples in real life that support the Marxist approach to crime

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Marxism Theory weaknesses

  • It largely ignores the relationship between crime and other inequalities that may be unrelated to class, such as ethnicity and gender.

  • It over-predicts the amount of crime in the working class: not all poor people commit crime, despite the pressures of poverty.

  • Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates e.g. Japan, Switzerland

  • The criminal justice system does sometimes act against the interests of the capitalist class. For example, prosecutions for corporate crime do occur

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Many facing poor economic circumstances do not commit crime, and so choosing crime is a voluntary act. Neo-Marxists theory views working class crimes like theft/vandalism as meaningful and symbolic political acts of resistance to ruling class oppression.The neo-Marxist approach is generally associated with the New Criminology. This suggests that to understand crime and deviance fully, it is necessary to draw on both structural (Marxist) and interactionist (labelling theory) approaches, involving an exploration of six dimensions:

o   The wider social origins of the deviant act

o   The immediate origins of the deviant act

o   The meaning of the deviant act

o   The immediate origins of the societal reaction

o   The wider origins of the societal reaction

o   The effects of social reaction on the deviant’s further action

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Neo-marxism evaluation

+ Highlight the importance of inequalities in power and wealth, and the conflicts these creates

+ Emphasize the biggest crimes are white collar, corporate and state crime not wc crime 

- Over emphasised property crime – they say little about offences such as domestic     violence and ****

- Over emphasize class inequality, and neglect other inequality such as gender, race or age

- Feminists regard them as male stream, focusing on male criminality

- Traditional Marxist theories ignore the fact most WC people do not commit crime

- It is difficult to class all laws as in the favor of the ruling class

- They romanticize crime, viewing that criminals as fighting political oppression, when the main victims of their crimes are mainly working class people

- They do not suggest practical polices to prevent crime and protect victims who are overwhelmingly working class

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New criminology

Crime is a symbolic resistance against the powerful

  • The oppressed do not always have to challenge the powerful in an ‘obvious way’.

  • They can challenge the authority and ideology of the powerful through symbolic gestures e.g. crime.

  • These are acts which carry a particular message/embedded with meaning (although sometimes implicit/hidden).

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New criminology

This type of movement led to the birth of the New Criminology a Neo Marxist approach to crime:

  • Sociologists should be critical of the capitalist order because this system of exploitation socially constructs crime the w/c are made to look more criminal because the capitalist ruling class and their laws criminalise them.  Sociologists should reject the capitalist definition of crime and try to uncover the crimes of the rich and powerful.

  • Capitalism needs to find a scapegoat so that the ruling classes can reassert their hegemony and divert people’s attention from wider structural problems such as inequality.

  • The criminal is viewed as a person that is angry at the system and is deliberately struggling for change. Crime is a meaningful and conscious choice with political motives

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New criminology: HALL and GILROY

Stuart Hall (1978) examines the ‘moral panic’ that developed over the crime of mugging in the 1970s. He wanted to show how mugging could be explained using the fully social theory of Taylor et al

Hall argued that the ‘moral panic’ around Afro Caribbean muggings developed because capitalism was in crisis – economically through unemployment, the state hegemony (authority) was being challenged through strikes. The ‘black mugger’ was used as a scapegoat by the state to distract attention away from the real problems and allow the state to regain control of a British public that had been losing faith in the government. The media labelled black men as muggers enabling the state to divide the working class along ethnic lines. Afro Caribbeans who did turn to crime did so because of unemployment or out of frustration at their exploitation.

Paul Gilroy (1982) argues Afro Caribbean men are no more criminal than whites but they are labelled by the police and courts and treated unfairly. When black young men do break the law, it is best seen as a political act – fighting back against racist white society and continuing the battle that started after the slave trade. Due to high unemployment rates in the 1980s it became convenient for the authorities to focus on the myth of black crime rather than their failure to ensure full employment.

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Left and right realism

Realist Theories see crime as a real problem that needs to be tackled and argue there has been a significant rise in crime rate – especially street crime. They are concerned about the widespread fear of crime and impact of crime on its victims and they criticise other theories saying they fail to offer realistic solutions to the problem of crime.

Left realism has left wing beliefs which are usually progressive in nature, support collective rights, aim to support those who cannot support themselves, they also believe in equality. They recognise that there has been a real increase in crime rates and that disadvantaged groups have the greatest fear of crime and it has the greatest effect on their lives. They claim the best way to reduce crime is to reduce the causes of crime.

Right realists have right wing beliefs which value tradition, they are about individual rights, survival of the fittest, and they believe in economic freedom. They tend to believe they shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s education or health service. They favoured a ‘get tough’ stance on crime, with increased use of prison (and in the USA, the death penalty) and a ‘short, sharp shock’ approach to dealing with young offenders. Right realism emphasizes the idea that individuals choose crime and must be persuaded not to.

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Left realism

Tackling crime:

  • Accountable policing - policing must be made more accountable to local communities and must deal with local concerns.  Routine beat patrols are ineffective in detecting or preventing crime, and stop and search tactics cause conflict and resentment.

  • Tackling the structural causes of crime:

  • Building strong communities to work out solutions to local problems, creating community cohesion

  • Tackling social deprivation (youth leisure activities, reducing unemployment, improving housing)

  • Intensive parenting support that gets parents and young offenders together to work out solutions, and early intervention through strategies like Sure Start to help children in the poor communities.  

  • Increase minimum wage, a fair wage to ensure people aren’t tempted to become welfare dependent

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Right realism

Cornish and Clarke believe that crime is seen as ‘attractive’ by some mostly because of a “lenient” criminal justice system which offers “soft” social control which fuels others to do the same or repeat what they have done before.

Although they aren’t especially interested in the causes, they still have a theory of what ‘causes crime’ – The two main theories about the causes of crime associated with Right Realism are ‘Rational Choice Theory’, ‘Broken Windows Theory’, and Charles Murray’s Underclass Theory (also a form of subcultural theory).

Rational Choice Theory states that most criminals are rational actors. If the criminal calculates that the risk of getting caught is low, or that the punishment if caught will not be severe, then they are more likely to commit crime, assuming the reward for doing that crime is high enough.

Broken Windows Theory is byWilson and Kelling who use the phrase ‘broken windows’ to stand for all the various signs of disorder and lack of concern for others that are found in some neighbourhoods.In such neighbourhoods, there is an absence of both formal social control and informal social control (the police and the community respectively). The policy are only concerned with serious crime and turn a blind eye to petty nuisance behaviour, while members of the community feel intimidated and powerless.

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Phenomenological sociology holds that reality is an intersubjectively shared and socially constructed phenomenon. People act based on the meaning that events and others have for them. Drawing upon the understandings developed by Alfred Schutz (1962) phenomenological sociology focuses on describing the subjective reality understood to be reality by members of society. Schutz suggested that members= subjective experience is a shared reality which draws upon a common stock of knowledge by typifications, recipes and formulas for accomplishing particular tasks, and commonsense understandings and theories that are shared by members of a groupThe central task in social phenomenology is to explain the reciprocal interactions that take place during human action, situational structuring, and reality construction.


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Ethnomethodology goes further. The structures of Aobjective realityare characterized as being far more fragile and malleable. For the ethnomethodologist there is no shared set of understanding and meaning which members attach to the world around them. There is no shared sense of Adeviance that can be called upon to order the strange and unusual behavior of others. What members of a group do share are methods for making sense. Schutz's common stock of knowledge is reconceptualized as a shared set of interpretive procedures, sense making activities, that are invoked and employed continually in interaction. These procedures allow members to produce practical accounts of specific individuals engaged in specific activities in the context of particular situations. Deviance and deviants emerge as particular designations which provide practical understandings of everyday life situations. By constructing a sense that particular people and specific behavior are 'outside' the norm members produce a shared understanding of the reality of the norm.

By focusing on how deviant labels--symbolic meanings attached to behavior, and norms are constructed through the interpretive work of individuals in everyday life situations, ethnomethodology, along with phenomenological sociology, can be seen as forming a foundation for other interactionist approaches to deviance.

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Feminism Summery

Feminists argue that sociological theory and research into crime.

·      Argues that it is male stream – gender issues and female offending were largely forgotten and ignored

·      There was little attempt to explain female offending or other forms of female deviance

·      Female victimization was also ignored.

Feminist criminology has grown to focus on the following issues:

·      Female offending and the experiences of women in the CJS

·      Female victimization. Mainly from male physical and sexual violence

·      Gender gap in offending

·      Importance of gender identity on the understanding and labelling of crime and deviance

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Feminism Official Statistics

Official statistics suggest that woman commit fewer crimes than men, and commit different types of crime (men are around 80% of all official statistics on offending). Self report studies are similar.

  • 4/5 of convicted offenders in England and Wales are men.
  • By the age of 40, 10% of females have had a criminal conviction, whilst around 30% of men.
  • More females than males are convicted of property offences (except burglary) - more males than females for violent or sexual offences.
  • Men are more likely to be repeat offenders. 
  • After arrest, women are more likely to be cautioned instead of charged than men.
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Feminism Sex role theory, Farrington and Painters,

  • Sex role theory suggests women are brought up to conform and be passive, so are less likely to commit crimes. Girls are socialised differently to boys and women have a smaller range of roles. 
    Farrington and Painter's longitudinal study of female offenders showed that they were more likely to have erratic parenting, and had little or support from their parents for their achievements. 
  • Heidensohn argues in a patriarchal society, women have less opportunity to commit some types of crime. E.g. you can't commit financial fraud unless you're in control of large sums on money, and men are more often found in powerful positions in the workplace. The crimes women do commit tend to relate to their roles are mother and wife, like shoplifting. Women are supervised more closely throughout their lives, and there are more informal sanctions such as gossip.
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Feminism Westwood and Smart

  • Westwood suggests that female identities are changing and women are adopting more masculine behaviour patterns - this links to the increase in female crime. Adler argues, as women become more liberated from patriarchy their crimes will become as frequent and serious as mens. The rate of female offending has gone up. Denscombe's study of Midlands teenagers' self-images found females were as likely as males to engage in risk taking behaviour and girls were adopting a more male stance such as trying to look 'hard'. However, female crime began rising long before the women's liberation movement. 
  • Smart suggested female crime has to be looked at as part of women's broader experience in society. E.g. women are often invisible victims of domestic violence.
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Feminism chivalry thesis

  • The 'chivalry thesis' argues that most criminal justice agencies are men, and men are socialised to have a protective attitude towards women and 'men hate to accuse women' meaning women are less likely to be prosecuted or found guilty. Evidence that supports this is Flood-Page et al. who found that while only 1 in 11 self report offenders had been caught, the figure for males was over 1 in 7. However, Box's review of British and American self-report studies concludes women aren't treated more favourably then men.
  • Many feminists argue that the criminal justice system is biased against women, particularly if they deviate from gender norms. Courts have double standards in that they punish girls but not boys for promiscuous sexual activity, and punish women that don't conform to ideals of motherhood more harshly.
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Feminism Carlen and smart

  • Carlen links gender and class. She did a study of 39 15-46 year old working class women who had been convicted for a range of crimes, and concluded most working-class female criminals are working-class. She argues that women's crimes are largely 'the crimes of the powerless'
  • Smart questioned what criminology can offer feminists, arguing it only asked male questions. She recommended a 'transgressive criminology', a postmodern approach which would abandon the traditional categories used to classify crimes. It would focus on new issues like the way women stay in at night for fear of becoming victims, and domestic violence.
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Liberal Feminism summery

This is based on the idea that by demonstrating how women have been ignored in research and changing this, there will be greater understanding of female crime. Also theories that cover males and females will be discovered.

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Radical feminism summery

The only way to understand crime is to look through the female perspective - research should be based on the assumption that all men would commit crime against women given the chance. Women should create a new approach to crime, including the threat from men.

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Postmodern summery

·      There is no consensus about what constitutes conformity and deviancy

·      The law and what is defined as crime, reflect an outdated metanarrative expressing a particular view among those with power

·      HENNRY and MILOVANOIC suggest that crime should be reconceptualised as people using power to show disrespect for, and causing them harm of some sort, others, whether or not it is illegal

·      Postmodern societies are characterised by a range of features which increasingly undermine people’s integration into society and respect others, and free them from the constraints arsing from social norms

o   Growing individualism

o   A diversity of values

o   Consumerism – growing importance of owning goods as a source of identity

o   Rapid change causing anomie

o   Insecurity, uncertainty and risk

o   Weakening or disintegrating social structures

o   Growing social fragmentation

·      The individualism of identity in postmodern society means that the social causes of crime are undiscoverable, as they lie in the individual not society

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Postmodern Evaluation

·      There is no consensus about what constitutes conformity and deviancy

·      The law and what is defined as crime, reflect an outdated metanarrative expressing a particular view among those with power

·      HENNRY and MILOVANOIC suggest that crime should be reconceptualised as people using power to show disrespect for, and causing them harm of some sort, others, whether or not it is illegal

·      Postmodern societies are characterised by a range of features which increasingly undermine people’s integration into society and respect others, and free them from the constraints arsing from social norms

o   Growing individualism

o   A diversity of values

o   Consumerism – growing importance of owning goods as a source of identity

o   Rapid change causing anomie

o   Insecurity, uncertainty and risk

o   Weakening or disintegrating social structures

o   Growing social fragmentation

·      The individualism of identity in postmodern society means that the social causes of crime are undiscoverable, as they lie in the individual not society

Evaluation of the post modernist approach


·      It recognises that there are other dimensions to the causes of crime beyond the society’s structure

·      Offers explanations for non-utilitarian crime which brings no material benefit

·      Provides a fuller picture if crime than that traditionally provided, as the transgressive conception of crime as harm encompasses a range of behaviour that has been largely neglected


·      Fails to recognise that inability to participate in consumer society can lead to resentment

·      Forgets that many people still have conceptions about right and wrong

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Green Crime theorists BECK and WHITE and the group

  BECK(1992)  Suggests that there are new kinds of risks that are created by actions of humans by the application od science and technology – GLOBAL RISK SOCIETY.WHITE (2008) illustrates the globalised character of environmental harms by the way transnational cooperation’s move manufacturing operations to the Global South to avoid pollution laws in developed countries.

WOLF identifies 4 groups: Individuals - can have a powerful impact on environment, through things like individual littering, illegal disposal of household waste e.g. fly tipping. Private business organisations large corporations are responsible for the bulk of land, air and water pollution, through emissions of toxic materials and dumping waste and breaches of health and safety regulations. States and governments cause environmental harm, SANTANA, points out that military is the largest institutional power. Warfare plays a major role in  in generating risk and destruction, and the environmental harms can last much more longer than the warfare, e.g. unexploded bombs.Organised crime WOLF identified that organised crime has had a long standing involvement in green and often in collision with government. According to Interpol, a significant amount of enviro crime is carried out by organised global crime networks, attracted by the low risk and high profit nature of the crime

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Explaining and enforcing Green Crime


o   SNIDE (Marxist) states are often reluctant to pass laws against pollution by private businesses and only do so when heavily pressured by the general public

o   SUTHERLAND like other types of white collar crime, environmental crimes do not carry the stigma of conventional crime. Hence why big business have the power and legal aid to avoid being labelled as a criminal


o   WHITE crime arises because of traditional corporations and nation states tend to hold a broadly anthropocentric view of the world. Suggests that the most important considerations for nations is the well being of their citizens achieved through economic development ad growth, and the environment is only a secondary consideration when forming economic policies

o   WOLF crime is motivated by the same factors as ordinary crime; rational, strain control and Marxist theories as most green crimes create economic  gain

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Problems with researching green crime and evaluati


o   Different laws in countries have different laws about green crime which means that cannot be comparable between countries

o   Different definitions create some dispute about what is classed as a crime e.g breaking of law or harm to the environment

o   Difficulties in measurementà green crime is often carried out by individuals, organised crime syndicates, powerful states and multinational corporations, who all have the capacity to conceal their crimes


o   G criminology is useful in addressing growing threats of enviro harm and can locate this within the context of globalisation. WHITE outlined this as the eco-global criminology. Locates green crime within the wider sociological theories yet there is a lack of clarity and agreement over what it actually is

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Media and crime

Media reporting of crime, rather than personal experience, provides most peoples only knowledge about the extent and type of crime in society.

These impressions are influenced by;

à Agenda-setting– which is the media’s power to select the issues they choose to include or leave out of their reports. If a particular news channel had a support for a political party – they would be heavily inclined to support the views of that party and publish stories that support them

à News values– the criteria by which journalists and editors decide whether a story is enticing and interesting, and one that the media audience will read and want to know about

o   The media seek out newsworthy stories of crime and exploit the possibilities of a good story by exaggerating some crimes out of all proportion to their actual occurrence in society

o   GREER & REINERà suggest it is news values that explain why all mainstream media tend to dramatize and sensationalise the extent of violence and sexual crime

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Media and crime

o   The media act as moral entrepreneurs in that they have the power to define deviance and to label the behaviour or groups of which they disapprove as deviant

o   The media can portray these groups, through stereotyping, as problems, and demonise them as folk devils who pose a threat to society

o   The media, through negative labelling and false or exaggerated reporting, can sometimes generate a moral panic – a wave of public panic about some alleged threat to society

o   This can lead to a wide spread demands for crackdown on the group by the police and CJS, and sometimes changes in the law to criminalise these deviant activities 

o   Media reporting and public reaction can create SFP and lead to deviancy amplification, as deviants play up to their media stereotype

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