Crime And Deviance

  • Created by: Ally-mai
  • Created on: 31-03-17 14:33

Defining Crime And Deviance

  • A crime is an illegal act that is punishable by law. eg. shoplifting
  • Deviance refers to behaviour that does not conform to a society's norms or social rules. eg. talking loudly in the cinema
  • Some, but not all, deviant acts are also illegal. eg. being naked in public
  • Legal deviance is behaviour that is seen as 'abnormal' by most people in a society but does not break the law. eg. drinking alcohol at breakfast
  • Illegal deviance involves criminal behaviour that is punishable by the state. eg. being naked in public
  • Some illegal acts are not seen as deviant. eg. parking on double yellow lines.

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Deviance As Socially Defined

  • Deviance is socially defined.
  • Whether or not an act is seen as deviant depends how people react to it.
  • Deviance is judged according to the social setting or the context in which it takes place.
  • What is seen as deviant can change over time. eg. how attitudes to homosexuality has changed since the Second World War in Britain.
  • What is seen as deviant can vary between cultures. eg. how woman dress and what is seen as appropriate.
  • What is classed as criminal behaviour can change over time and vary between cultures. eg. it was illegal to drink alcohol in the US in the 1920s and it is illegal in some countries today.


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Formal And Informal Social Control

Formal social control is based on formal written rules.

  • The agencies of formal social control are the bodies that make the formal writter rules, enforce them or punish people who break them.
  • eg. The Houses Of Parliament makes the laws, which the police then enforce, then the courts sentence those guilty of breaking them, sending them to prisons where the criminal is both punished and rehabilitated.

Informal social control is based on unwritten or 'take for granted' rules

  • It is enforced through social pressure from groups such as families, friends or peers.
  • eg. parents may use positive sanctions, such as going out for pizza, in order to reward their children's good behaviour.
  • parents may also use negative sanctions, such as stopping pocket money, in order to punish bad behaviour and encourage conformity in the future.


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Explaining Crime And Deviance

Inadequate Socialization Within Families

  • Some children are more prone to crime because of the negative influence of their home environment.

Sub-Cultural Theories

  • Albert Cohen argued that working-class boys joined delinquent subcultures to gain status within their peer group.

Relative Deprivation

  • Experiencing feelings of relative deprivation may motivate criminal behaviour.

Marxist Explanations

  • Not everyone can access wealth so some people commit crime to aquire the consumer goods that others have.
  • The legal system operates in favour of the rich.

Labelling Theory

  • Cicourel argued that a delinquent is someone who has been labelled as such; linking to the belief that labelling someone as deviant may help to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Police Recorded Official Crime Statistics

Police recorded crime statistics exclude the 'hidden figure' of crime including unreported and unrecorded crime.

  • Some crimes are not witnessed or discovered. eg fraud may not be discovered.
  • Some crimes that are witnessed or discovered are not reported to the police.
    • Less serious crimes such as vandalism
    • People tend not to report crimes that they see as private.
    • The victim might not report a crime such as sexual assault because they think that the police will handle it insensitively.
    • Employers might not report crimes their employees commit in order to avoid negative publicity.

Sociologists argue that statistics of police recorded crime are 'socially constructed'.

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Self-Report Studies

Self report studies ask people to reveal offences they have committed.

The OCJS is a longitudinal study that provides information on offenders and offences that are not necessarily dealt with by the police or courts.


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The Social Distribution Of Crime

  • Younger people are more likely to engage in crime than older people.
  • More men than women commit crime.
  • The number of female offenders in the UK appears to be increasing.
    • Shifts in attitudes mean that women no longer recieve less harsh treatment than men within the criminal justice system.
  • Some ethnic groups are over- represented in prisons relative to their proportion in the population.
    • This could be because of institutional racisim within the criminal justice system.
  • Working-class people are over-represented in prisons
    • They're given fewer opportunities to succeed.
    • Working-class subcultures stress deviant and criminal behaviour as a way of achieving status among peers.
    • This could be due to social class bias within the criminal justice system.
  • In general, the crime rate is higher in urban areas than in rural areas.
    • This could be because there are higher levels of unemployment and poverty in urban areas.
    • There are more opportunities to commit crime in urban settings, such as city centres.
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Victim Surveys

Victim surveys ask people about their experiences of crime.

It interviews people about whether they have been a victim of particular offences during the last year and, if so, whether they reported the crimes to the police.

They have shown that many victims do not report crimes to the police.

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The Impact Of Crime On Victims

Measurement research examines the type and number of people who are victims of crime. For example, victim surveys.

Studies of the impact of crime show that crime can impact on victims physically, financially, socially, or psychologically.

Studies of the role of victims in the criminal justice process look at victims' role in reporting crime, providing evidence and acting as witnesses in court.


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The Impact Of Crime And Deviance

Fear or worry about crime is one way that crime affects everyone to some degree.

Sometimes, the level of anxiety about crime is not in proportion to the actual risk of becoming a victim.

Crime is seen as causing damaging tensions within communities.

White-Collar And Corporate Crime

White collar and corporate crime can have financial, physical, and social costs.Tax evasion has a financial cost, for example because it results in loss of government revenue. Physical harm and sickness can result from environmental pollution, the sale of unfit foods or exposure to substances such as asbestos at work. The social costs of corporate crime include mistrust between employers and employees.

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Youth Crime As A Social Problem

Youth crime is seen as a serious social problem.

Fear of teemage crime is seen as damaging to community life and to community ties.

Young offenders are cast as society's number one 'folk devil'.

Young people become scapegoats, who are blamed for society's problems.

Governments have designed various policies to control youth crime and antisocial behaviour. These include:

  • Fining parents for their children's misbehaviour.
  • Curfews
  • ASBOs

Critics argue that ASBOs are inefficient as they can be seen as a status symbol or badge of honour among the young.

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