Crime and Deviance

  • Created by: Pria
  • Created on: 17-02-17 19:46


Definitions of crime and deviance are not fixed, instead they are socially constructed-this means they are created by society and change over time and from place to place. Whether an act is defined as C or D depends on the following:

Time - Laws on cannabis has changed, homosexuality, time of day- drinking alcohol

Place- in some Arab countries-drink alcohol, guns are legal, prostitution is legal in Amsterdam

Social Situation Context-nudity-in shower but not in Tesco.

Culture-different cultures have different norms and values e.g. some see alcohol as a criminal offence.

Explanations Of Crime-Functionalism-crime is caused because not everyone is socialised correctly e.g. children bought up in broken homes who lack both RM are more likely to commit crime-they don't understand what is right and wrong.  Laws reflect consensus (agreement) and therefore protect all members of society.  Functionalists claim that crime and punishment are positive for society in the following ways:

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Labelling Theory and Crime

This explores the social reaction to bad behaviour.  This reaction believes that behaviour is defined or labelled as criminal or deviant.  Labelling is often based on stereotypes of the typical criminal-these often exist in the media where certain groups may demonise as criminals e.g. black AC boys.

Stereotypes exist about age, class, gender, race, appearance and locality.

This stereotyping leads to selective law enforcement-where the police are iased and targt certain groups.  this is a form of discrimination e.g. stop and search black boys.  Once labelled as criminal people will become criminal-deviant career or SFP.

Labelling theorists also explore moral panics.

Moral Panics - a moral panic is where the media exaggerates the amout of crime and emonises a grup as a threat to social values.  Within a moral panic a group is labelled as criminal which leads to more crime-making the problem worse. Those identified and emonised as criminal are called Folk Devils-throughout history there are many exaples e.g. mulims(terrorists) pedophiles(jimmy savile) hoodies (bluewater banned) Black people.

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Concept of Deviance Amplification & Causes of Crim

Refers to how the edia exagerates the threat that criminal groups present-this can lead to fear and the police respond by targetting the group.  this leads to further media coverage which includes more labelling and demonising.  The result can be discrimination e.g. racism against muslims.

Causes of Crime-It is very likely that a 12 marker will appear on this in the exam.  It is important that we know the following causes of crime:

Inadequate Socialisaion-People are criminal because they are not socialised properly.  The NR claim that children from SP families are more likely to be criminal because they will lack an important role model e.g. black boys have absent fathers.

Peer Pressure-within criminal subcultures peer pressure can result in crime e.g. young males are pressured to gain status through fighting and committing crime.

Poverty-Marxist see poverty as a major cause of crime e.g. the working class can't access wealth so they turn to crime to gain material goods.

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Causes Of Crime continued

Labelling-certain groups are labelled and stereotyped as criminals e.g. black males - deviant career SFP.

Relative Deprivation-people feel relatively deprived when they copare themselves to berrer off groups.  This can lead to envy which can encourage crime.

Locality-Stats show tht crime rates are higher in urban areas (cities) crime rates i rural areas tend to be lower.  Within inner city deprived areas, social control is weak making crime more likely.  Also within cities there is a night time economy-this is where many young people go to pubs and clubs.  They drink alcohol which is linked to violence and antisocial behaviour.

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Social Distribution of Crime and Deviance

The Social Distribution of C and D

Official stas(os) can be used to identify patterns of crime in relation to class, gender, ethnicity, age and locality. N.B. we must always remember that OS may not be accurate because there is a hidden figure.  However, it is still important to explore these patterns:

Social Class-OS show that the WC have higher crime rates.  This may be due to the following:

Poverty-material deprivation

Cultural Deprivation-inadequately socialised

Labelling-fit the stereotype of typical criminal 

Selective law enforcement-see previous notes

Subcultures-the wc are more likely to join CS (gangs) as a means of gaining status

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Social Distribution of Crime and Deviance continue


OS show males are more likely to be criminal, make up 80% of offenders.The following points explain these patterns:

Gender Role Socialisation - males are socialised to be aggressive and tough which can lead to crime.  Females are socialised to be caring and obey rules, social control is stricter for girls e.g. they are monitored more closely.

Chivalry-this is a form of SLE where police & courts treat female offenders leniently e.g. getting a warning or a fine instead of prison sentence.

Maculinity-males commit crime as a way of showing masculinity as they may gain status from fighting and being violent.

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Social Distribution of Crime & Deviance continued

Opportunities-Males have more opportunities and freedom to commit crime.  however fameles are restricted more to the home in a patriarchal society e.g. the triple shift, liberal feminists would say ths has changed because women now have more opportunties.

Labelling-Police have a stereotype of the typical criminals-male and young.  They label them as criminal which results in deviant career.  Due to the stereotype police target males and discover more male crime.

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Locality of Crime

OS show that crime rates are highter in urban areas. Reasons:

Opportunities-In cities there are more shops and cars which are often the target of criminals.

Pubs and clubs-The night time economy.  Many young people go to cities to drink alcohol-this is linked to crime and disorderly anti-social behaviour.

Deprivation-many inner cities have deprived housing estates where there is poverty and lack of opportunities.  In such areas criminal subcultures develop and encourage people to commit crime e.g. peer pressure.

Labelling-Police have a stereotype of typical criminal rea so they target these areas and as a result find more crime here.  Selective Law Enforcement.

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Age and Crime

OS show that the young are more likely to commit crime tha the old. e.g. peak criminal age for girls is 14 and males 16. Reasons:

Peer Pressure/subculture-criminal SC are more likely among the young e.g. they join gangs to gain status and excitement.  Within the gang, there is pp to be criminal or deviant.

Poverty-young are more likely to be poor-steal to earn goods etc.

SLE-The young fit the st of the typical criminal e.g. youths in hoodies as a result they are labelled and become criminal.  Also the police target young people, therefore discover more youth crime.

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Ethnicity and Crime

OS show that some EMs are more likely to be criminal e.g. black and gypsy. Reasons:

Subculture/gangs - many black males may suffer from status dep i.e. they underachieve at school and dont get a good jobj, as a result they may join gangs as a way of gaining status. N.B. gangs also allow black males to demonstrate masculinity.

Cultural Dep-black males are more likely to come from broken homes with absent fathers. Therefore primary socialisation may be inadequate e.g. boys lack positive role models and some may turn to crime.

Racism-some police are racist e.g. afte the murder of Stephen Lawrence(1993) the police were found to be institutionally racist.i.e. for 18 years they failed to prosecute the killers, just because Stephen was black.  Also the police have st and made target black communities e.g. excessive stop and search of black people.

Labelling- the police label black males as criminal-results in deviant career.

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Official Crime Statistics

OS are published annually and include all offences that htave been reported and recorded.   OS re a secondary of quantitative data.  OS are useful according to some sociologists, others do not agree. Positives of OS include:

cheap and easy to access

analysis of OS can reveal patterns and trends e.g. who commits crime an when.

they can show changes over time

can be used to develop policies to combat crime

they show real CR because policing is fair and unbiased. functionalists would say this.

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White Collar Crime/Alternatives to OCS

Reason why WCC is hidden:

they are powerful groups who can affort best lawyers

often complex and difficult to detect e.g. online fraud

Alternatives to Official Crime Statistics:

victims surveys - this is large scale survey involving interviews with respondants.  They are asked: what crimes they have been a victim of i the last year, the circumstances and the background of the offender.  The best example is th BCS(British Crime Survey) carried out annually.

Victim surveys are useful because they can show the HF of unreported crime.  Victim surveys show that many crimes goo unreported. However, there are a number of weaknesses:

People may lie because of embarrassment, people may not remember over a year, not representative as cildren are not included (child abuse not included)

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Alternative to OCS continued/Social distribution o

Self Report Studies

These involve fact to face interviews where people are asked to admit to the offences they have committed.  It is anonymous.  The respondant is given a list of offences and admit the ones they have done.  A positive is that they can highlight the hidden figure.  However the problem is that people will lie because the don't want to get into trouble.

Social Distribution of Crime

Refers to who commits crime and where it takes place.  Sociolotists use OS to study patterns and trends.  OCS show black males commit more crime.  Gender-male and location-poor urban areas. N.B. We must be aware that OCS are not always accurate-hidden figure, however it is still important and useful to explore patterns.

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Social Class and Crime again!!!!

OCS show that the working class commit more crime.  The following explanations for this:

Material deprivation-cant afford (poverty) steal to obtain goods

Cultural deprivation-socialised inadequately do now know difference to right from wrong because of divorce and SP rates.

SLE-police target the poor based on the st of the typical criminal e.g. stop and search black/poor/males. Ignore WCC. SLE linked to labelling-SFP become more criminal.

Subculture/gangs - more likely to lack status.

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Gender & Crime

OCS show that males commit more crime (outnumber women 4:1) 80% male 205 female. But OCS shows that female crime rates have risen. explanations include:

Gender Role Socialisation-Girls are socialised to be feminine, obediant, carring, passive.  However boys are socialised to be aggressive masculine which can lead them to crime.

Opportunities - Females are confined to the home e.g. housewife roll-as a result they have less opportunity to commmit crime.  GR have changed as society is less patriarchal e.g. more women work - more opportunity.

Biology-male have testosterone-aggressive fighting, however periods!!

Chivalry-refers to the police and courts (which are male dominated) are lenient to female offenders SLE. N.B. However some evidence shows that women can be treated harshly in court when victims of R A P E and sexual abuse.

Labelling - males SFP- female CR may be rising because ladette culture where girls are doing more male things, young women with money drinking alcohol, linked to crime, women less confined.

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The government has tried to improve relations with EM's by:

aiming to recruit more EM officers

focusing on cultural diversity during police training

meeting more frequently with local community representatives in EM areas

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Social Control

Can be defined as processes in society to make people confirm.  Social control can be formal-this means official and usually happens when a law is broken.  Ovvicial SC agencies include police, courts, prison and education.  There is also inform SC-this is not official and usually involves family and friends.  You can be punished with isolation from friends, peer pressure and disapproval. The following institutions use formal control:

Education is the main agency of secondary socialisation learning to work hard-hidden curriculum. Official sanctions include exclusion.

Family-usually informal SC-naughty step

Media - can control how we think-idiology-false consciousness and they dont realise they are being exploited and wont start revolution.

Peer group-social control includes bullying.

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Social Control - Prisons

A major agency of formal social control.  Prisons ara a formal negative sanction.  Some sociologists believe prisons ar a good thing because:

Keeps dangerous people e.g. murderers away from society

Stops offending.  Prisoners are punished so learn a lesson and dont reoffend

Deterrent - it puts people off of committing crime because they see the way people live and dont want that.

Jobs-they give jobs for people-prison officer etc.

Rehabilitation-this means prisoners are helped to understand that they have done wrong or are given support with problems e.g. treatment for anger or drugs to help them get back into maiinstream society.

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Social Control - Prisons continued

Some sociologists claim that prisons are not useful because:

they dont rehabilitate and people reoffend

they claim they are universities of crime-this means they make criminals more criminal i.e once labelled as criminal SFP occurs which can be because when they get out they find it hard to get a job and reoffend. Some say prisons have a revolving door.

Prisons dont have harsh enough environment, not harsh enough to deter crime i.e. we read that they have luxeriesand TV's but this may be exagerated.

They are very expensive to run

Funding for rehabilitation for drug and anger problems is low so prisoners are left inside for longer.

They are overcrowded.

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Social Control-alternative to prison

Governments have tried a range of alternatives which include:

ASBO's-a punshment which usually involves the criminal having to follow certain rules.  Also involves tagging and curfew. Some sociologists say they don't work becuase some criminals see them as a status symbol i.e. gangs it's cool to get an ASBO therfore they encourage crime.

Situational Crime Prevention SCP

Where communities reduce the opportunities for crime, this involves target hardening e.g. CCTV, burglar alarms, speed bumps and speed cameras.  Some studies who this has reduced crime. however others show displacement where crime moves to areas where there is no SCP.


being watched and monitored e.g. CCTV and usage of internet, mobiles etc.  This can help to deter crime.  However others claim it does  not solve wider causes of crime e.g. poverty other critics claim it is an invasion of privacy.

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Social Control-alternative to prison continued

Community Service - Where a person is required to do tasks that benefit the community e.g. picking up rubbish

Caution or Warning


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Impact Of Crime (expect a 4-5 mark question on thi

Crime can have a range of impacts on victims which include:

Physical Harm - this can include injury or death from a violent attack or a careless driver

Financial Loss - this can include the loss of property, the cost of replacement and insurance.

Psychological Harm/trauma - this can relate to trauma, stress and effects of being the victime of a crime.  Victims may be too scared to leave the home.

Social Harm- this relates to how a local community may be affected by high crime rates.  This would include tension, falling house prices, conflict between groups and poor service. e.g. health and education.

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The Impact of Crime on Society

Fear/worry -  this is a psychological impact - studies show that fear of crime often exists in deprived communities where there are high rates of anti-social behaviour.  Fear can result in avoidance behaviour e.g. not leaving the home after dark.

Peoples fear of crime can be affected by the media-can exagerate or sensationalise certain crimes which can lead to a moral panic e.g. young people are anti-social thugs.

Community Breadown - this is a social impact whereby vandalism and anti-social behaviour impact on the community.  This can include certain groups being labelled as trouble e.g. young people.  This can lead to tension between old and young.  As a result, the community becomes devided and not a desirable place to live.

The impact of WCC

Financial costs-can include loss of government money, stolen pension funds, global recession & loss of investments & savings

Physical costs - sickness due to pollution, illness through sale of unfit goods, unsafe work conditions, eg.exposure to harmful chemicals, injury from faulty electrial goods.

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