Crime and deviance

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Marxism

  • BOX: Aimed to demonstrate that although the mass media foster public fears of working class disorder and street crime the reality is difference. 
  • CHAMBLISS:  Seattle study: Consisted of interviews with all members of the social strata, from police and legal officials, to prostitutes. He argued that it is money + power that determines who gets arrested and who does not. (biased questions & desirability bias??)
  • SNIDER: USA street crime costs $4 billion per year. Losses from corporate crime are 20 times greater.
  • GORDON: a rational response to the capitalist system. In a “dog eat dog” world where competition is the order of the day, people will go to any lengths to survive. This is particularly evident in America – minimal welfare services.
  • FRANKFURT SCHOOL: Consumer fetishism, brainless entertainment and lack of authentic views.

Marxists go on to say that any laws which are made to protect the working class, for example anti-monopolistic laws, are only done so to appease the working class so they don’t figure out the injustice in the criminal system.

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Functionalism

DURKHEIM: said that crime is inevitable in society. This is because not everyone will buy into the collective sentiments of society, and will deviate from these norms and beliefs. it acts as a ‘safety valve’, providing a relatively harmless way for someone to express their discontent.

CLINARD: said crime also served the function of acting as a warning device. This is because the crime indicates that there is an aspect of society that is malfunctioning. 

Merton: Ritualism - Abandoning or scaling down ambitions because of the difficulty in realising them.

Retreatism - Vagrants, alcoholics, drug addicts and psychotics who have mentally dropped out of society.

Rebellion - Strive for new order with closer correspondence between merit, effort and reward.

Innovation - Crime, prepared to take risks if their aspirations outweigh their internalisation of moral values.

Conformity - The stable, law abiding core of society.

- Some critics argue that actually society might not have a value consensus, so how can people feel pressured by it if the value consensus doesn’t exist. Merton exaggerates working class crime and ignores white-collar crime committed by the wealthy in society.

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Labelling theory

  • LEMERT - PRIMARY AND SECONDARY DEVIANCE, STUTTERING. COULD BE VIEWED AS AMPLIFICATION OF DEVIANCE. 
  • BECKER - MASTER STATUS = CONTROL OF PERSON & PRIMARY IDENTIFICATION. OR CAREER
  • YOUNG (HIPPIES) - SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY. SOCIETY’S REACTION! OPPOSITE TO FUNCTIONALISTS( DEVIANCE =CONTROL), CONTROL=DEVIANCE
  • HALL (MEDIA) - MORAL PANIC OVER MUGGINGS, BRING SOCIETY TOGETHER AGAINST COMMON ENEMY WHEN ECONOMY BAD. NEO-MARXIST THINKS RULING CLASS LABEL OTHERS TO KEEP CONTROL 2 SOLVE CRISIS OF CAPITALISM.
  • DEVIANCE AMPLIFICATION (COHEN) CREATES GREATER AWARENESS->MORE CRIME UNCOVERED->HAS THERE ALWAYS BEEN LOTS?
  • COOLEY - LOOKING GLASS SELF

WHY PRIMARY DEVIANCE? DETERMINISTIC! NO FREE WILL OR CHOICE? EXTERNAL FACTORS, MAYBE HELP W/ CRIME IN LOWER ECONOMIC SOCIAL GROUPS?

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Left Realists

Socialists who believe gradual reforms are the only realistic way to achieve equality, opposed to the inequalities of capitalist society and see it as the root of crime. LEA AND YOUNG

1. RELATIVE DEPRIVATION (commit crime to obtain what they believe they are entitled to & widening gap between cultural inclusion and economic exclusion.)

2. SUBCULTURE 

3. MARGINALISATION

  • Democratic policing, public support of the police leads to more reliable knowledge.
  • Multi-agency approach; housing, social services, schools
  • Reduce social inequality
  • Major structural change to: tackle discrimination, inequality of oppurtunity and unfariness of rewards, and provide decent housing and jobs for all. 

- Fails to explain corporate crime

- Over predicts the amount of working class crime.

- LR relies on quantative data from victim surveys rather than qualitative

- Focusing on high-crime inner city areas makes crime appear a greater problem.

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Right Realists

Mainly concerned with practical approaches, e.g. control and punishment, rather than rehabilitating offenders or tackling causes such as poverty. Reject the idea that structural or economic factors such as poverty are the cause of crime. 

1. BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES (WILSON&HERRNSTEIN)

2. THE UNDERCLASS 

3. RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY (CLARKE

  • Keep neighbourhoods orderly to prevent crime (Wilson and Kelling)
  • Zero tolerance policy - Police patrolling can make law abiding citizens feel more safe.
  • Crime prevention policies should reduce the rewards of crime and increase its costs, e.g. target hardening, more use of prison. 

- It ignores structural causes of crime e.g. poverty.

- Concerned almost solely with street crime

 - Over emphasises control of disorderly neighbourhoods, ignoring underlying cuases of neighbourhood decline.

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Social Action Theorists

Max Weber said that sociology is ‘a science which attempts the interpretive understanding of social action in order thereby to arrive at a causal explanation’. Weber said we need to understand why people do things if we are to truly understand their actions.

Weber developed the theory of verstehen whereby researchers put themselves in the position of those in a society in order to try and understand why they act in certain ways.

Herbert Blumer said that instead of looking at society as a whole we need to look at the meanings of small-scale interactions. He said researchers should not only see the world through the eyes of the social actors, they should immerse themselves in this world so they can really fully understand the meaning behind actions. So in the case of suicide we should look at each case individually rather than saying it was caused by the same thing for all of one society.

Phenomenology takes this interpretivist perspective to the extreme. It says that our reality consists  just of meanings, therefore the job of the sociologist is to discover the meanings of actions and behaviour and nothing else.

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State Crime

GREEN AND WARD: "illegal or deviant acts perpertrated by, or with the complicity of, state agencies." 

COHEN: States conceal and legitimate their human right crimes:

- Deomcratic states (Denial, redirection, justified)

NEUTRALISATION THEORY 

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DURKHEIM

  • Functions of crime: Boundary maintenance (reaffirm shared rules & reinforce solidarity) and Adaption and change 

Believed there was agreement or consensus over society’s norms and values, which resulted in social order and stable societies.  Durkheim believed this occurred because society’s institutions successfully implemented social control.  For Durkheim social control is positive(unlike interactionist and Marxist views on social control) as it creates social cohesion.  

Durkheim believes social control is achieved by various agencies of social control socialising individuals into socially agreed norms and values (regulation) and by integrating individuals into social groups. For example, schools bond individuals together into school communities and classes. Religion binds people together during times of happiness & sadness e.g. weddings and funerals.  Religion regulates behaviour by setting down certain moral standards.

- How much is the right amount of deviance for society? & doesn't consider why crime exists in the first place? 

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MERTON

Developed Durkheim’s idea of ‘anomie’ and as a functionalist took a macro view of society (generalised without always finding empirical evidence.)

  1. CULTURALLY DEFINED GOALS - Wealth and status that are held as legitimate objective for all or most members of society.

  2. REGULATORY NORMS AND LAWS - Controlling acceptable means of reaching for these goals.

Robert Merton’s Strain Theory gives illustration to the tendency for some individuals in society to experience strain in achieving goals. It claims that the type of deviance people engage in depends on whether a society provides the means to achieve cultural goals.


Ritualism - Abandoning or scaling down ambitions because of the difficulty in realising them.

Retreatism - Vagrants, alcoholics, drug addicts and psychotics who have mentally dropped out of society.

Rebellion - Strive for new order with closer correspondence between merit, effort and reward.

Innovation - Crime, prepared to take risks if their aspirations outweigh their internalisation of moral values.

 Conformity - The stable, law abiding core of society.


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MILLER

A deviant subculture doesn’t arise from the inability of the members to achieve success; instead he said that crime is a result of the fact that there is a lower-class subculture with different norms and values to the rest of society. He said these different values mean that for members of this culture there are a number of concerns and things people want to achieve, he called these focal concerns and they include:

Toughness – Miller said that people within the lower-class subculture value toughness as an important trait; however this can manifest itself in assault and violence.

Smartness – This culture also value the ability to outfox each other. This will often lead to people trying to con, pickpocket or steal from each other in ‘clever’ ways.

Excitement – This culture constantly searches for excitement and thrills. This often means gambling, alcohol and sexual adventures.

Miller said this mix of ‘focal concerns’ can lead to a culture which accepts crime and deviance as normal.

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DICK HEBDIGE

“Subculture - the meaning of style” suggested that revolutionary styles were attempts to gain symbolic power and they were ‘magic’ as the people who wore them felt powerful - used this ‘power’ to shock others.

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MATZA

Claimed that delinquents are similar to everyone else in their values and voice similar feelings of outrage about crime in general as the majority of society. When they are caught they express feelings of remorse and offer justifications for their acts. (See 5 techniques of neautralisation aka. R.I.V.C.A & Drift)


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PHILLIPS AND BOWLING

Many allegations of oppressive policing of minority communities - Mass stop and search operations, paramilitary tactics, excessive surveillance, armed raids, police violence and deaths in custody, and a failure to respond effectively to racist violence. They note that minorities are more likely to think they are ‘over-policed and under-protected’.

- Interviewees could have fallen victim to the Hawthorne Effect as they only give impressions, not statistics or empirical evidence.

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HALL ET AL

 Argued that the moral panic about muggings by black youth was ill-founded: The rate of such offences was rising more slowly than in an earlier period. In his view black youths were scapegoated in a police attempt to clamp down on public order.

  • Shute et al (2005): Found an improvement, as a lower than expected proportion of defendants from ethnic minorities (between a quarter and a third) reported feeling that they had been treated in a racially biased way,though still a serious allegation if true. 60% of ethnic minority defendants who did identify unfair treatment attributed it to racial bias.


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BLOM-COOPER AND DRABBLE

Black people were likely to be charged with more serious forms of an offence than Whites when similar acts were committed.

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HOOD

Revealed that Black people were more likely than Whites to get custodial sentences for offences where fines or community-based punishments were alternatives: He concluded that, for less serious cases, mitigating circumstances were less likely to be taken into account if the defendant was Black rather than White.

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POLLACK

Official statistics underestimate the amount of female crime: Typically female crimes such as shoplifting are less likely to be reported or  property crime is less likely to be noticed or reported than the violent or sexual crimes committed by men or prostitution. Women are particularly adept at hiding their crimes as a result of female biology.

  • HEIDSOHN Later research shows that many shoplifting crimes are committed by men, and evidence suggests that men are more likely to commit violent and sexual offences in the privacy of their own home, which counters Pollack’s claims.
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HOOD

Women defendants do appear to have a lower probability of being jailed or imprisoned (CHIVALRY FACTOR):This difference appears to be related to a variety of factors: pregnancy, responsibilities for small children, the greater likelihood to demonstrate remorse, as well as perceptions that women are less dangerous and more amenable to rehabilitation. Found women were a third less likely to be jailed than men for similar offences.

If women appear to be sentenced more leniently, it may just be because their offences were less serious?

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ADLER

Liberation through patriarchy leads to more female crime: Argues that changes in the structure of society has led to more female crime (girl gangs), with more opportunities and less opportunity for patriarchy to overpower women. Links to gender roles – a decline in the traditional nuclear family gender roles has led to more equality, as well as more “equality” in crime.

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MESSERSCHMIDT

Men commit crime to prove their socially constructed idea of ‘masculinity’: With different types of masculinities around societies and different “accomplishments” of masculinity . He sees crime as resources different men use to accomplish their level of masculinity

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A.K COHEN

Status frustration: Working class boys face anomie in the middle -class education system as they are culturally deprived and lack the skills to achieve,

leaving them at the bottom of the status hierarchy. The frustration this causes is resolved by rejecting mainstream middle-class values and forming subcultures

which offer an illegitimate opportunity structure, with an alternative status hierarchy which praises what society condemns.

  • Cohen also wrongly believes that all working class people want the same goals, which is why they end up committing crime.


 

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CLOWARD AND OHLIN

Working class youths are denied legitimate opportunities to achieve, causing deviance as a response:

However they did observe 3 different subcultures which formed

1. Criminal ( Youths have an apprenticeship in utilitarian crime, are mentored by adult criminals, gives them opportunities on the criminal career ladder.)

2. Conflict (Areas with a high population turnover which stops stable criminal networks developing like in 1, only have loosely organised gangs who prioritise violence.)

3. Retreatist (fail in legitimate & illegitimate ways so they turn to drugs.)

They ignore the crimes of the wealthy & wider power structure, but they do accept that there are different subcultures in crime. Even if they do make them very specific, IRL there would be overlaps.

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COHEN

Folk devils and Moral panics (media can amplify an event of deviance taking place, giving an unrealistic account of events): Initial disturbances on Easter Weekend resulting in a few scuffles and minor property damage were sensationalised. This led to the “deviance amplification spiral” consisting of two main issues:

1. By making the problem seem like it was getting out of hand it led to stigmatisation of the two groups and increased control response from the police.

2. Defining the groups, causing a separation and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Functionalists see moral panics as a way of responding to the sense of anomie (normlessness) created by change, as the media creates a common enemy in the folk devil’ so the public can gain a collective consciousness. While the neo-marxists believe moral panic is created to distract the public from the crisis of capitalism.

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BALDWIN AND BOTTOMS

Area tipping (the decision to label certain areas as more ‘criminal’ can often create a self-fulfilling prophecy for the area and it’s residents: An area loses it’s good reputation because of publicity about criminal incidents. Negative media coverage of an area will cause ‘respectable’ people to stop frequenting it out of fear and the closing down of social businesses e.g. cafes, restaurants so property prices fall. Dwellings become multi-occupied with cheap rents filled with people who have to move around on foot. Due to the change resulting from the media’s labelling of an area criminal networks have more vulnerable people to prey on.

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STEIN AND FRIEDRICH

Experiment that made nursery age children watch batman and superman programmed seems to prove that watching violent tv shows makes children more violent, however much of the play was simply imitation of the characters not real aggression. Plus the children were of a young age, so more susceptible to any messages from the media.

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FESHBACH AND SINGER

The ‘catharsis’ argument says that experiencing fictional violence allows people to purge themselves of such emotions. experiment found boys from the same institution who were allowed to watch shows with violence in them engaged in fewer fights than those who weren’t allowed.

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HIRSCHI

(“A lack of bonds cause crime”)

Belief - Those with weak beliefs in the moral validity of social rules are more likely to deviate.

Involvement - People busy studying or working lack the time for deviant activities.

Commitment - Fear of a damaged reputation & interference in progress.

Attachment - Close bonds with parents, teachers and family.

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KINGSLEY DAVIS

Echoed Durkheim’s belief that crime is inevitable & even performs necessary functions in society - in this case the crime is prostitution. Helps maintain the traditional family structure by allowing men, who are naturally more sexually charged, an outlet to release this drive through a non-emotional physical interaction with another individual, thereby lowering divorce rates as the need for extramarital relationships is lessen.

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Evaluation: Marxism

- There is still crime in communist countries

- Laws protect all social classes. The poor are espeically helped by health and safety laws and the benefits system.

- Street crime is more frightening to victims than fraud

 - Inconsistent to imply that police unjustifisbly target working class areas and at the same time admit that povert leads the proles to commit crime.

  • There have been too few communist countries to study
  • Health and safety laws are often ignored and benefits are few, these are used to make citizens believe the government is fair (a form of social control.)
  • Fewer people are victims of street crime, than of corporate crime.
  • Although the poor do commit crime, more effort should be made to reduce corporate crime, which involves larger sums of money.
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LEA AND YOUNG

  • Ethnic differences in the statistics reflect real differences in the levels of offending.
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