Crime and deivance: Topic 8B

Gender and patterns of crime

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  • Created on: 17-05-15 15:21


  • In 2006 1.42 mill offenders were sentanced for a criminal offence in england and wales 80% were male nd 7% under 18.
  • Among males the highest rate of offending for hte most serious criminal offences was among 17 year olders at 6,116 offenders per 100,000 population of that age. The highest rate for females was among 15 year olds (2,168 per 100,000 pop) for male offenders in
  • 2005 15 year olds receied more cautions than any other age group
  •   19 year olds received the most convictions
  • Among femlaes 14 and 15 year olds received the most cautions and the most common age to be convicted was 16.
  • in 2006 males more likely than females to be found guilty or cautioned for crimes in all major categories between 82% and 94% of all offenders in england and wlaes found guilty or cautioned for violence against a person, criminal damage, drug offences and robbery and burglary were mael.Although the number of offernders was relatively smale 97% of those found giulty or cautioned for sexual offenses were also male.
  • Theft was the most commonly commitd offence by both men and women in england and wales in 2006 with 50% of femlae offenders found guilty or cautioned for theft and handling stolen goods compared to 30% of males. Overall 71% of theft related offenses were commited by men.
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Feminist explanations of the low female crime rate

  • Some feminist criminologists accept that women commit less crime than men. Leonard beleives that the major explanation for this is that women are more likely to conform to rule sand social controls than men however there are signs that this commitment to the rules may be undermined by social class and age.
  • Different socialisation- early fem explanations focused on the differences in socialisation of males and females both Smart and Oakley have suggsted that males re sociallised into agressive self seeking and individualistic behaviour that makes them more disposed to tkae risks and commit criminal acts. On the other hand females are socialised into a less potentially criminal set of values and norms that stree co operation, tenderness and careing for others.
  • DIfferent controls- Heindenson argues that females are generally more conformist because patriarchal society imposes greater controls over behaviour and this can be illustrated in several ways
  • 1. Control of women at home- the time spent on houseworkand in careing for children means women hve little time for crime. Dughters are given less freedom than sons to come and go as they please
  • 2. Controls on women in public- women often choose not to go out for fear of harrasment and limit their behaviour in public for fear of being callled a **** or a *****.
  • 3.Control of women at work- women are usually controlled by male superiors at work and may be intimidated by various forms of harrassment
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Explanations of low female crime rates among women

  • Smart- notes girls are more strictly supervised by their parents especially in terms of activities outside the home.
  • Mc robbie and garber- bedroom culture
  • Lees- notes that females are more likely to be controlled in that they may fear aquiring a bad reputation and notes that boys in schools often use verbalied sexual labels such as "slg" to control girls girls therefore steer clear of certain types of deviant behaviour to avoid htese labels.
  • Heindension- notes that women are more likely to be controlled by their family roles as wive sand mothers and concequently have little time or opportunity for illegal activity. Women are less likely to be in public places n which crime and deviance normally occurs especcially at night as the threat or fear of male violence aaisnt them or fear of aquiring a bad reputation.
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  • Women are growing in confidence and the points raised above are becoming less relevent.
  • Socail changes mean that women are increasingly occupying more important role sin societ ywhere they have control over men ratehr thn visa versa.
  • Official figures may underestimate the female crime rate
  • Campbell's self report study- found that the ratio of male crime to female crime is 1.5 to 1 rather than 7.1 however these findings are often undermined by under and over reporting ethical issues and the difficulty of finding a representative sample.
  • Women may simply be more skilled than men at commiting crime or may commit crimes which are less likely to be reported e.g shopliffting.
  • Chivalry factor.
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Rational choices

  • Carlen-note that wc females commit crime as they lack the cotrols that prevent most people from commiting crime such as commitment to a career and family attachment.
  • also notes that criminal women are often women who have failed to gian qualificatins and find legitimate work, they are often in poverty and dependent on benefits. Furthermore their attachment to family life is often weak as they have often been abused by family members and spent time in care, many have run away from home and spent time on the streets. Carlen argues that any criminal women come to the rational conclusion that crime si the only route to a decent standard of living and getting a crimnial recond only reinforces future criminal behaviour as it makes commitment to a conventional job and family life less likely.
  • Some fems socs sugget that poverty has become feminised in the last twenty years as women are more likey than men to experience low pay and benefits. Female crimes such as shoplifting and social security fraud may have increased in reation to povery.
  • Walklate notes shoplifting and prostetution are often motivated by economic necessity i.e to provide children with toys.
  • Evaluation
  • However critics of this theory suggest that carlen fails to explain why many women in poverty choose not to commit crime.
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Explanaions of the rising crime rate among young w

Liberation theoryAdler- argues that as soceity becomes less patriarchal somes crime rate will rise as they are given greater confidence and opportunity to commit crime.

  • Claims that womens libreration led to a new type of female criminal and an increase in womens contribution to crime. Women taking on mle social roles in both legitimate and illigitimate areas of activity instead of confining themselves to feminine crimes such as shoplifting women were getting involved in bank robberies, muggings even murder.
  • Between 1981-1997 the number of girls under 18 convicted of violent offences in england and wales doubled from 65 per 100,000 to 135 per 100,000.
  • A demos survey- of 2000 UK women between 18-24 found that 1 in 8 respondants thought it was acceptable to use physical violence to get something they wanted.
  • Denscombe- aruges that the changing female roles in recent decades mean that females are increasingly as likely as males to engage in risk taking behaviour. Undertook reaserchin the self image of 15 and 16 year olds in the east midlands using in depth interveiws as well as focus groups and found that they were rapidly adopting what had traditionally been male attitudes and this included things such as "looking hard" "being in control" and someone who can cope with risk taking.
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Explaining the rising crime rate among women 2

  • This provides theoretical support for the fact that female crime levels and imprisonment rates are rising much more quikely than male rates not just in terms of numbers but also in seriousness of crimes commited. The work of demscombe can also be used to evaluate some feminist theories that tend to focus on women as victims of male crime and explain female crime in terms of male power, control and abuse.
  • Post modern perspective
  • Croall- suggested that teenage girls are usually motivated to commit crime b three interrelated factors
  • a drug habbit
  • the exitment of commiting a crime (see Katz ad Lyng)
  • The conspicous consumption of goods such as designer labels.
  • Evaluation
  • Box and Hale evaluate adler- concludes that if female crime has increaed its more likely to be due to unemployment and inadequete benefits and most female criminals are from lower class backgrounds and are least likely to have been touched by womens liberation,
  • These theories can be criticised for ooverestimating the growing equality between men+ women
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Explaining hte high crime rate among men- Messersc

  • Until recently the concept that masculinity exerts a major influence on crime was generally neglected. Feminism was the first theory to drw criminological attention to the role of gener role socialisation in the social construction of crime.
  • Oakley- suggested that gender role socialisation in the U.K especailly in wc families may result in bys and men subscribing to values that potentionally overlp with criminality.
  • Oakleys ideas were devleloped by Messerchmidy who argued that boys in the U.K were socialised into a hegemonic masculine value system which stresses the differences from women and particular masculine goals that need to be acheived in order to become a "real man" these goals include:
  • The need to gain respect from other men in order to maintain reputation
  • Having power and authority over others
  • The objectation of women through the celebration of masculinity through promescuity
  • Toughness expressed through agression, confrontation and force
  • Territorial loyalty and honour expressed through being a part of a larger group
  • Being emotionally hard and not expressing weakness by showing feelings
  • being anti authority through individuality and self reliance
  • seeking pleasure and thrills to compensate for the boredom of work or unemployment.
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Explaining the high crime rate among men 2

Messerchmidt argues that working class youths experience of education is often one of under acheivment. Antisocial subcultures are constructed and organied around the acheivment of hegemonic masculine values to compensate for the negative experience of school. These gangs operate both in and outside of school however he notes that this need to live out masculine values isn't confined to working class youth and men noting that middle class men may be motivated by this masculine value system to commit white collar and corporate crime.

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Key study: Messerchmidt masculinities and crime

  • Notes that most crimes are commited by males and therefor any study of crime must include a detailed study of masculine values. He criticises what he sees as the falliure of previous criminology to deal with the relationship between masculinity and crime. He beleives that a theory explaining why men commit crimes should take account of different masculinities- the different ways that meople have perceived being masculine, different concepts of masculinity tend to lead to different social actions in general and different types of criminality in particular.
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Key study Messerchmidt and crime 2

Accomplishing masculinity

  • Gender is something people do, something they acomplish. in everyday life they try to present themselves in their interactions as adequete or successful men or women. From this veiwpoint a man chatting with his mates at a bar, having sex with a gemale, disscuing buisness or playing sport are all attemppting to acomplish masculinity. However men don't all construct the same type of masculinity some men arent in a position to acomplish certain highly valued types of masculinity and must try to dinf alternative ways to be "real men". He says that "although masculinity is always individual and personal spesific forms of masculinity are avalible, encouraged, permitted depending on ones race, class and sexual prefernce"
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Key study: Messerchmidt- masculinity and crime 3

Hegemonic and subordinated masculinities

  • Messerchmidt followed the work of Connell and divided masculinity into teo main types hegemonic (dominted and highly valued) and subordinated (less powerfull, lower status i.e homosexual or african american) masculinity. The nature of hegemonic masculinity varies from place to place and time to time but generally based on the subordination of women. Hegemonic men benefit from their power over women, men with less dominant forms of masculinity also attempt to get benefits from power over women but its less easy for them to do so.
  • Messerchmidt used a wide range of reaserch findings from other sociological studies to suggest why different groups of males turn to differnet types of crime in attempts to be masculine in different ways.
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Key study: Messerchmidt masculinities and crime 4

Masculinity and crime in youth groups

  • White mc boys enjoy educational sucess and frequently display sporting prowess and are therefore able to express some characteristics of hegemonic masculinity, however these characteristics are paid at a price as characteristics such as indipendence, dominance and control largely have to be given up at school in order to acheive sucess white mc boys are to an extent emasculated as their masculinity is undermined as they have to act in relatively subserviant ways to school teachers. However outside of school they attept to demonstrate some of the sharacteristics that are repressed in school involving engaging in pranks, vandalsim, exessive drinking and minor thefts.
  • Because of their background white mc boys are usually able to evade becoming labelled as criminals by the authorities. Such young men adopt an accomidating masculinity in school. This is a "controlled, cooperative, rational gender strategy of action for institutional success" outside they adopt a more opositional masculinity which goes against some middle class notions and allows them to assert some aspects of hegemonic masculinity they were denied in school.
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Key study: Messerchmidt masculinities and crime 5

  • White wc boys- have less change of academic success and so cant easily access the type of masculinity based on academic success accessible to mc youth they therefore tend to construct masculinity round the importance of physical agression. its important to be tough or hard to oppose the imposition of authority by teachers and others as theirs is an opppositional masculinity both in and out of school. He quotes the lads in Willis's study as an example.
  •  wc ethnic minority boys- have great problems finding reasonably paid secure employment and don't expect to be able to express their masculinity as breadwinners by holding down a steady job and supporting a family. Their parents may be too poor to buy them consumer goods with designer labels to confer status with ittle chance of asserting their masculinity through success in school or work the focus of these young mens lives is the street. They are unable to acess the advantages of hegemonic masculinity through legitimate means and instead turn to violence and crime using violence in and out of school to express masculinity. They become more involved in serious property crime than white wc youths and this at least offers some possibility of material success associated with hegemonic masculinity. He references some american studies that show how robbery is used to make the offenders feel more masculine than their victims, how gang and turf warfair is part of an attempt to asert control and **** to control women.
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Key study Messerchmidt: Masculinities and crime 6

Examples of links between different types of masculinity and crime

 Pimping- they exerice control over the prostetutes they "run" and by getting the women to turn most of their earnings to they they cn also enjoy a degree of material success. They have more chance of expressing their masculinity in this way than by struggling to find and keep low paid work and as they can assert their masculinity by adopting "the cool pose of the badass" which involves the use of "poses' and "postures" tht connote control, toughness and detachment. They are loud and flamboyant and displa ytheir successs through luxury consumer goods.

White collar crime- to acheive success in large scale corporations managers must do whater is neccaccary to make their company proffitable, in this sort of masculine culture its not surprissing that corporate and white collar crimes are accepted, even encouraged when they are the only way to guarentee profits.

The family- dominance over women. Relatively powerless men use wife beating, violent **** and even murder to reassert masculine control when their mascuinity is thrreatened by women. Thus much violence occurs when the man beleives that his wife or children hasn't carried out her duties, obeying his orders or shown him adequete respect.

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Evaluation of Messerchmidt

  • It attempts to link different types of crime to different types of masculinity and appears to provide a basis for explaining why men are more criminal than women.
  • Jefferson- discribes his work a s"a brave attempt" however he fails to explain why parrticulr individuals commit crimes rather than others i.e only a smale nummber of african american men cary out ****. Also hes advancing steryotypical and negative veiws of men and especially wc non white men.
  • Theres no room in the study for men who may commit politically motivated crimes in a fight against an opressive goverement and little for men who reject the idea that being a "real man" involves asserting power over women.
  • exagerates the importance of masculinity in the explanation of crime- he may be right that its difficult to explain crme without referencing to masculinity but may be wrong to assume it can be explained by this alone.
  • Fails to explain why not all men use crime to acomplish hegemonic masculine goals- the majority are law abiding citizens.
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Explaining the high crime rate among men: thrill s

  • Postmodernists such as Katz- aruge sthat criminology has failed to understand the role of pleasure in commiting crime as this search for pleasure has to be place in the context of masculinity which stresses the importance of status, control over others and success. he claims that crime is always explained with reference to background causes but rarely attempts to look at the pleasure derived from the act of offending or "transgression". He argues that "doing evil" is motivated by a quest of a moral self transcendence in the face of bordom. Different crimes provide different thrills from the "sneaky thrill" of shoplifting to the "richeous slaughter" of murder.
  • His work is clearly influenced by Matza who suggested that constructuing a male identity in contemporary society is difficult. Most youths are in a state of drift where they are unsure of exactly who they are and what their place in society is. For most young males this is a period of bordom and crisis where any event why unambiguously gives them a clear identity is welcomed and could equllly be an identity of offender as much as employee. Commiting offences provides a break from boredom, pleasure and sense of being something ie a gang member or hard man- but certainly an identity.
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Explaining the high crime rate among men: thrill s

  • Lying- sucgest much of crime is edgework as its located on the edge betweeen the thrill of getting away with it and the danger of being caught and punished therefor its like gambling thrilling and pleasureable and allows young men who have little economic security to exercise control over their lives. Katz also note sthat violence in terms of the thrill and power exercised over others is rational in the context of acheiving the goals of hegemonic masculinity.
  • Croall- female teen crime is also the product of the need for thrills.
  • Evlauation
  • only a minority of crimes are motivated by thrill seeking there are many other motivations such as economic gain and frustration.
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