Crime and deviance: locality and class

  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 14-04-14 19:38


  • According to offical stats, crime rates differ dramatically by locality.
  • urban areas much higher crime rates than rural
  • may be misleading - police often patrol inner-city areas, leaving rural crime undetected
  • Country police have relationships with locals, city police likely to file offences against people they do not know.
  • local crime surveys in Islington and Merseyside revealed a much higher crime rate tan the UK average and a greater fear of street crime.
  • More opportunity for property crime in cities and higher proportion of people with social problems.
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Ecological theories

  • British cities associated with crime since the industrial revolution
  • Robert park, Ernest Burgess(1925) - the area closest to the central business district, where housing is cheapest, was the most criminogenic.
  • area mainly populated by the poor & students - this zone of transition has high crime because residents can't afford to secure their property, are unable to distinguish criminals from residents, rarely form associations, and may themselves be desperate enough to commit crime
  • Subcultures more likely to be formed because of cultural heterogeneity and social disorganisation with deviant values spread through cultural transmission.

High crime rates in Britain are just as likely on council estates as they are in inner city areas, as the former have a high proportion of problem families

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Environmental theories

  • recent research come from right wing, and attempted to reduce street crime by finding out which factors encourage it.
  • Wilson and Kelling - Broken Windows(1982) - any sign of deterioration in an area must be delt with immediately or with would rapidly get worse. Police must use zero tolerance toward begging and drinking on the street else more serious crimes would quickly follow
  • Skogan(1986) - identified factors that can cause an area to 'tip' (get a worse reputation). Affluent families leave and poorer ones move in, often followed by physical deterioration of the area. Fear of crime keeps people in at night, making it easier for others to commit street crime. Tipping reversed if incentives are given to proffesionals to move back in.
  • Brantingham and Brantingham(1984) - most crimes are committed by opportunists taking their normal travel routes. If 'target hardening' is encouraged, such as alarms on cars, then crime is reduced.

these are all useful short-term strategies but do not address structural inequalities that promote crime.

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Social class

  • traditional Marx view w/c crime as motivated by inequalities and bourgeois crime by greed. sympathise with w/c victims of ruling class crime but not vice cersa - believe JCS favours bourgeois
  • New Criminoligists see structural factors as part of complex web that causes crime
  • Marxist subculturalists see structural factors as a form of class resistance
  • Left realists see much crime motivated by relative deprivation and marginalisation of the w/c - emphasise plight of w/c victims
  • Interactionists believe labelling of powerless amplifies crime
  • The New Right concede w/c crime is a rational response to capitalist competition but, instead of advocating the reduction of inequality, they believe in making crime harder to commit.
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