White and Blue Collar Crime
White collar crime is crime committed by the middle classes, usually linked to their jobs. Examples include fraud, bribery and embezzlement. It is hard to detect as it is committed by middle-class people who are usually respected in society. The people who do it are not suspected and tend to be intelliigent and in a position to hid their criminal activity. The media also tend to focus on more sensational crimes involving violence or crime. Another reason it is hard to know how much white collar crime there is happening is companies being scared of bad publicity. This may put customers off, so bosses as workers to resign and in return not to get the police involved.
Blue collar crime is crime that is committed by members of the working class. This crime is usually less planned than white collar crime and may involve damage to a person or property. Examples include drug abuse, prostituion and illegal gambling.
The media tend to focus on blue collar crime, which can be easier to detect and report.
Corporate crime are those committed by people working for big companies and business. Similarly to white collar crime, they are committed by repectable and high-status members of society. Individuals benefit from this but only by the company making more profit. Examples of corportate crimes include negligence, false advertising, lying about the contents of the product and bribery.
Some corporate crimes overlap with white collar crimes. The key point is that the company can be held responsible and not just individuals. Multinational companies are difficult to catch as they are not under the control of the government.
An example of corporate crime is when supermarkets, including Tesco, were accused of selling horsemeat as beef.
Youth and Street Crime
Youth crime is crime that is committed by young people. People are only classed as a young offender by law if they are aged between 10 and 17.
Street crime is crime that happens in public places. It is associated with youth, working-class and ethnic minority groups. Examples include mugging, prostituion, drug offences and anti-social behaviour.
Gangs, gun and knife crime have been a great focus in the UK. There has been a moral panic about these issues in recent years. Young people may now be recognised as folk devils making our streets unsafe.
The New Right would see these as real causes of concern. They would like to see tougher punishments (zero tolerance) from the courts and stricter discipline from families and education.
The Marxist believe that the media focuses more on these types of crimes.
Gender and Crime
Gender refers to the differences in social roles of males and females.
Research has shown that men are more likely to be convicted of crime compared to women. Norms of masculinity have been blamed for the higher rate of male convictions. Men are socialised to be agressive and tough but women are socialised to be gentle. Stricter discipline also forces women to stay out of trouble. Although, there is a suggestion that this is changing and more women are being convicted of violent offences, possibly due to ladette culture.
Some sociologists have argued that women are treated more gently by the forces of social control. This is called the chivalry factor.
Although, when women are guilty of some crimes they may be demonised. For example, women who are involved in hurting a child will be presented as evil by the media and may recieve harsh treatment in the courts.
Ethnicity and Crime
Ethnicity refers to membership of a cultural group.
Ethnic minorities are over-represented in the prison population.
The Stephen Lawrence case highlighted the issue of police racism in the 1990s. The Macpherson Report which followed this found that the police were instituationally racist.
Stereotypes may not have helped this and ethnic minorities may suffer from labelling by the police and courts. Immigration itself has been a cause of moral panic in recent years.
As well as being more likely to go to prison, they're also more likely to be victims of crime and live in poorer areas. As a result of this, there is more poverty and risks of crime.
Racism also means that they are the victims of racially motivated attacks. Therefore, ethnic minorities suffer as victims and are unfairly blamed, according to Paul Gilroy. He also argued that ethnic minority people were not more criminal than other groups.
Crime: Better or Worse?
Police are expected to carry out the role of collecting official statistics on crime. The government need these to decide where to target police and resources in future. The government want to show the public they are doing a good job in reducing crime.
The main source of official statistics is from crimes that are reported to the police. They also need to be recorded by the police to appear in official statistics. Sociologists argue that crime statistics are socially constructed.
Some crimes may not be seen as serious by the victim. They may feel that the police wouldn't be able to do anything. Victims may be scared of telling the police, in case of repercussions. The criminal may be known, or related to the victim. This all restricts the victim from reporting their crimes. This affects the accuracy of the official statistics and adds to the dark figure.
Once a crime is reported the police have to record it if it is to be counted in the official statistics. Sometimes this does not happen and it affects the accuracy of the official statistics.
Social Class and Crime
Official statistics show that more working-class people than middle-class are convicted of crime. Failures in education and feelings of low status have been put forward of reasons for this. Cultural and material deprivation of the poor are also linked to high conviction rates. Although, self-report studies suggest that crime is committed by members of all social classes.
Marxist suggest that the police are not fair in their approach to crime and are more likely to arrest working-class people. They are also more likely to put resources into policing working-class areas and into street crime. Marxist believe that the police favour the bourgeoisie, and even laws themselves are made in favour of the rich upper classes and are about protecting property.
As well as being more likely to be arrested, the poor are more likely to be victims of violent crime and burglary. The elderly may be particularly vulnerable Fear of being a victim of crime is also very harmful to people's quality of life.
Subcultures, Crime and Deviance
A subculture is a different way of life within a shared culture.
Merton thought that crime got out of control when there was no balance between the goals people wanted and the chances of achieving them. Everyone is socialised to want to be rich. As some people cannot get this through legal means, they turn to crime. Merton explained that there were five possible responses including crime, drugs, giving up, rebelling, or continuing to try for success even when it's unlikely. Cohen had the idea that some people were fustrated as they failed to be successful. This resulted in them to do badly in school and participate in a criminal lifestyle to gain success and respect there.
Cloward and Ohlin developed these ideas further and spoke out about the three kinds of criminal subcultures:
Criminal subcultures (high organised criminal gang)
Conflict subcultures (no organised crime so join gangs to fight each other)
Retreatist subcultures (do neither of these and turn to drugs and alcohol)
Crime: Nature Explains
Nature explanations see crime as caused mainly by something that a person is born with.
Biological: Lombroso believed that if a person had large ears, jaws, flat nostrils, dark skin and a high threshold to pain then they were more likely to commit crime. Chemical imbalances have also been blamed for people's behaviour.
Psychological: Eysenck believed that extroverts are more likely to commit crime than introverts as they are risk taking and outgoing. Introverts are less likely as they have quiet personalities and do not take risks.
Sociologists emphasise nurture when explaining crime. A person is influenced into following a life of crime by their experiences. For example, the labelling theory. If someone is labelled, they may either reject the label or accept and continue living in the label. This leads on to the self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Media and Social Control
The media refers to all methods of mass communications.
The media has constantly been accused of focussing on blue collar crimes. Another concern is how newspapers, especially tabloid ones, may sensationalise crime, especially the extreme ones.
When the media oversensationalise certain topics, they cause moral panics. Those involved will now be recognised as folk devils. Examples are especially worse when the media exaggerates in an attempt to keep society under control but it results in making things worse. This is known as deviancy amplification.
Crime and Deviance
Deviance is when someone breaks the norms of society.
Crime refers to actions that break the laws of society.
What is seen as criminal and deviant could change over time. For example, abortion was illegal until 1967. The way that crime and deviance vary from time to time from society to society is known as social construction of crime and deviance.
Most crimes are seen as deviant. For example, murder is both criminal and deviant. Although, you can have a criminal act that is not a deviant act. For example, slightly speeding over the limit is a crime. As many drivers do speed, it is also seen as a norm. It only becomes a deviant act when drivers excessively speed. You can have a deviant act that is not a crime. For example, wearing a bikini to church is not a crime but is a deviant act.
Informal Social Control
Informal social control is the first way of making people behave before more official agencies take over.
People who break social norms may recieve sanctions from other people for doing so. A person wearing a bikini to church might be stared ar by others, have comments made to them, eyebrows raised at them or be gossiped about.
If a community is close-knit, the informal social control will be stronger. As people know each other and care about what people think, they are less likely to commit deviant acts. Although, they are likely to do the opposite on holiday as they do not know anyone there.
The family and education are also agencies of socialisation. They both have their own ways of sanctioning members.
Formal Social Control
The judiciary includes all the legal institutions that work together to decide what happens when laws are broken.
Youth courts are for young people, which work with the Youth Offending Team. Magistrates' Courts are the place where less serious crimes are dealt with. Magistrates are volunteers and have the power to send people to prison for up to 6 months and fine up to £5,000. Crown courts are controlled by a judge, assisted by 12 members of the public chosen at random, known as the jury. The jury decide if the person is innocent or guilty of the crime. The judge then decides on the sentence.
The Functionalist believe the judiciary as playing an important role in society. It reminds people of the boundaries of behaviour. The courts respond to changing norms.
The Marxist believe that the courts favour the rich and as a result, the poor are treated more harshly.
Roles of the police include:
Controlling traffic and noise; keeping order in society; investigating crime, collecting evidence and catching criminals; protecting and serving the public; and educating the public about crime.
Effective policing depends on community policing and public relations.
As a method of clamping down on crimes, the police introduced zero tolerance.
The Functionalist believe the police do a good job on society as they educate and keep order.
The Marxist believe the police keep the ruling class in charge by protecting their wealth.