- Little crime necessary to bring the community togetherReaffiriming boundries
- Changing Values
- Social Cohesion
Merton - Bonds of attachment
- 1.Attachment (Care about peoples opions and wishes)
- 2.Commitment (Personal Investments)
- 3.Involvement (Time)
- 4.Belief (Obey the rules of Society)
Hirschi - People have social bonds in society stopping them from commiting crime
- Anomie - Too much crime leading to social disruption
- Infomal Social Control - Subtle and manifested in situations - Grownded, disapproving looks
- Formal Social Control - Social institutions - Fines, Prison
Strain Theory (Merton)
Merton maintained that American/British society socialises individuals to:
- meet certain shared goals - the ‘American Dream’
- to follow approved means or ways to achieve the goals e.g. hard work and effort.
Merton argued that capitalist societies suffer from anomie - a strain/conflict between the goals set by society and the legitimate (law abiding) means of achieving them.
Crime and Deviance with claimed that this strain was a product of an unequal social class structure that blocked many people’s attempts to reach the goals set by society through the legitimate opportunity structure.
Merton identified five different responses to anomie. Perhaps the most significant though was innovation. He used this concept to explain material crimes amongst the working class. Merton argued that some members of the working class reject the approved means (e.g. working hard in a job) and innovate and turn to illegal means to obtain the cultural goals they still desire e.g. a nice car.
Subcultural Theories (Cohen)
1. The structural origins of crime & deviance Cohen accepts much of what Merton had to say on the structural origins of crime and deviance.
- Working class youths internalise mainstream norms and values through socialisation.
- Working class youths face blocked opportunities (e.g. at school) because of their position in the social class structure.
- Working class youths as a whole (groups not just individuals) suffer from status frustration (realise that they can not achieve in middle class terms).
2. The cultural causes of crime extends Merton’s theory
- Some working class youths make a decision to completely reject mainstream norms and values. This is because of the status frustration they feel.
- Mainstream norms and values are replaced with alternative delinquent subcultural norms and values. For Cohen a high value is placed on non-financial negativistic delinquent acts. For example, joy riding, arson and vandalism.
- The delinquent subculture provides an alternative means of gaining status and striking ack at an unequal social system that has branded them as ‘failures’.
Subcultural Theories (Cloward and Ohlin)
Cloward and Ohlin maintain that the form working class delinquent subcultures take depends on access to ileegitimate opportunity structures, i.e. access to existing adult criminal networks who will take on younger ‘apprentice’ criminals.
Criminal subcultures emerge when working class youths have access to adult criminal networks. The focus of their deviance is on material crimes such as burglary.
Conflict subcultures emerge when working class youths lack access to adult criminal networks but live in an environment which values defence of territory and violence. The focus of their deviance is gang related ‘warfare’.
Retreatist subcultures emerge when working class youths are denied access to criminal or conflict subcultures. The focus of their deviance is on alcohol and drug abuse.
Subcultural Theories (Miller)
1. The structural origins of crime & deviance
- Miller rejects Cohen and Cloward and Ohlin’s views on the structural origins of crime and deviance. He criticises the idea that delinquent subcultures emerge as a reaction to anomie. This is because he believes that lower class youths never accept mainstream norms and values in the first place. He therefore offers an alternative cultural view on crime and deviance.
2. The cultural causes of crime & deviance
- Lower class youths are socialised into a set of lower class values or focal concerns. These values include toughness, smartness, excitement and fatalism.
- Some lower class youths over conform to lower class values because of a concern to gain status within their peer group. In this situation crime and deviance follow. Delinquency might include assault.
Marxist Sub-Cultural explanations
- The Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies saw youth subcultures within a wider structural context - they were responses to the problems of growing up working class in a capitalist society.
- The subcultures cannot actually change the circumstances the youths find themselves in, they can only provide what Brake calls a “magical” solution.
- The style and content of the subculture - the music, clothes, slang etc. - are seen as important, and differing between groups because each group is responding to a different situation.
- These styles denote resistance to the hegemony of capitalism, and can be “read” by sociologists, as in Phil Cohen’s study of skinheads.
- This “resistance through rituals” tradition was focused very much on working class boys who joined highly visible subcultures. The majority of young people, who did not join subcultures, attracted little attention. The middle class tended to be ignored, although Jock Young described the hedonism of Notting Hill hippies in ‘The Drugtakers’.
- Feminisms - Concentrates on males
New Right Sub-Cultural Theories
- This approach argues that there is an underclass in modern industrial society that has its’ origin in a rejection of mainstream norms and values. Welfare systems encourage this subculture which is characterised by single parents, an unwillingness to work and high levels of crime.
- Murray claims that the underclass is responsible for a great deal of recorded crime.
- The only way to change this and to reduce crime is to make criminal activity so ‘expensive’ for the potential criminal in terms of loss of liberty, financial cost etc. as to deter them. Removal of benefits would also pressurise people into work.
- Taylor has argued that the rise of an underclass is not the result of the growth of a
- rejectionist subculture, but the product of changes in the economic structure in
- post-modern societies. The collapse of older industries and the communities they
- once supported and the decline in demand for unskilled labour have led to a rise in
- crime. This is nothing to do with norms and values.
- They reject official statistics on crime, making them part of their subject of study.
- They reject structural causal explanations of crime and deviance (e.g. functionalist and realist).
- They look instead at the way crime and deviance is socially constructed.
- They favour in-depth qualitative approaches when investigating crime and deviance. For example, informal interviews, observation and personal documents.
- Response to official crime statistics
- The nature of deviance is socially constructed
- Becker claims that the amount and distribution of crime and deviance in society is dependent on processes of social interaction between the deviant and powerful agencies of social control. Becker argues that whether a deviant is labelled depends on who has committed and observed the deviant act, when and where the act was committed and the negotiations that take place between the various ‘social actors’ (people) involved. He suggests that powerless groups are more likely to be labelled than powerful groups.
- Traditional Marxism sees society as a structure in which the economic base determines the shape of the superstructure (all the other social institutions, including the state, the law and the criminal justice system).
- Capitalist society is divided into classes: the ruling capitalist class (or bourgeoisie) who own the means of production, and the working class (or proletariat), whose alienated labour the bourgeoisie exploit to produce profit.
- Society is based on conflict: The inequality of wealth and power that underpins capitalist society and the contradictions and problems inherent within such a system explain crime.
- Laws are not an expression of value consensus (as functionalists argue), but a reflection of ruling-class ideology. Laws are made by the state acting in the interests of the ruling class.
- The bourgeoisie is able to keep its power partly through its ability to use the law to criminalise working class activities.
- Not all laws, however, are so clearly in ruling class interests. Many seem to benefit everyone, such as traffic laws. It ignores individual motivation. It is highly deterministic, rarely considering notions of individual freewill. It largely ignores the relationship between crime and other inequalities.
Neo Marxist Theories
- Neo-Marxists are sociologists who have been influenced by Marxism, but recognise that there are problems with traditional Marxist explanations of crime and deviance. They also seek to combine Marxism with other approaches such as labelling theory.
Taylor et al: The New Criminology
- The starting point of Taylor et al’s ‘New Criminology’ is a rejection of the traditional Marxist view that workers are driven to crime by economic necessity. Instead, they believe that crime is a voluntary act. In particular they argue that crime often has a political motive, for example, to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. Criminals are not passive puppets whose behaviour is shaped by the nature of capitalism. Instead they are deliberately striving to change capitalism.
- Taylor et al are trying to create what they call a ‘fully social theory of deviance’ which has two main sources:
- Traditional Marxist ideas about the unequal distribution of wealth and who has the power to make and enfore the law
- Enforce the law - deviant act for the deviant, societal reactions to it, and the effects of the deviant label on the individual.
Realist Theories - Right Realism
- Existing approaches seemed unable to generate ideas that could lead to reducing crime. Both Marxist and interactionist theories seemed to excuse criminal behaviour
- Marxists tended to see property crime as a justified attempt to redistribute wealth,Interactionists saw criminals as different from non-criminals only in that they had acquired the label “criminal”.
- Realists tried to counter these tendencies by focusing on the reality of crime, its consequences for the victims and the need to do something about it.
- Two versions of realist theory have developed, right realism and left realism, reflecting different political perspectives.
- Right Realism: People are naturally selfish, This selfishness must be controlled by laws, People weigh up the costs and benefits of actions, People who choose crime are responsible for their actions, Crime rises because the costs are not high enough to dissuade people, Crime can only be reduced through harsher sentences
- Right realists reject economic factors such as poverty and unemployment as responsible for crime; they point to rising crime during periods of rising living standards as evidence. They look to cultural factors, such as declining morality and respect for authority.
Realist Theories - Left Realism
- This view sees the causes of crime in the economic structure of society. It rejects the way earlier Left approaches seemed to almost romanticise crime and emphasises instead how the weakest sections of society bear most of the costs of crime.
- Victim surveys show that people in inner city areas, the lower working class, Afro-Caribbeans & Asians most likely to be victims of “ordinary” crimes such as street crime & burglary.
- Lea and Young looked at the impact of crime on the daily lives of vulnerable groups. Offenders often from these groups, but their criminality is not excused or justified politically.
- Lea and Young used the concepts of relative deprivation, marginalisation & subculture
- Relative deprivation refers to the gap between the expectations people have, and the reality of what they can obtain. Afro-Caribbeans often find their paths to status and economic success blocked by discrimination.
- Marginalised groups lack both clear goals and organisations to represent their interests. Groups such as workers have clear goals (better pay and conditions) and organisations (trade unions) to put pressure on employers and politicians. They need to resort to violence to achieve their goals.
- By contrast, unemployed youth are marginalised. They have no organisation to represent them and no clear goals, just a sense of resentment and frustration.
- Feminist criminology developed in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, and was closely associated with the emergence of the Second Wave of feminism.
- Feminists argue that male dominance in society is reflected in a male dominance of mainstream theories of crime, which was seen as ‘malestream’ sociology (about men, for men and by men).
- Heidensohn suggests several reasons why Functionalist, Marxist, subcultural and interactionist approaches to crime all tended to ignore women:
- 1. Sociology is dominated by men, who tended to accept stereotypical ideas about females. They found female crime uninteresting and unimportant.
- 2. Those who did try to study it struggled to find useful examples (e.g. female gangs).
- 3. Male sociologists were attracted by the apparent glamour of some male deviance, of gangs, drug taking etc, have difficulty gaining access to female groups and subcultures even if their interested.
- 4. All these early theories of crime can be undermined by asking how they would account for females. For example, Albert Cohen’s work on status frustration among working class adolescent boys failing at school has no account of how girls reacted to similar situations and experiences
- Postmodern theorists argue that we now live in a post modern world characterised bydiversity and fragmentation. Postmodernists stress that society is changing so rapidly and constantly that it is marked by uncertainty, with society split into a huge variety of groups with different interests and lifestyles.
- Postmodernists view the category ‘crime’ as simply a social construction, based on a narrow legal definition, reflecting an outdated meta-narrative of the law which does not reflect the diversity of postmodern society. However people are increasingly freed from the constraints arising from social norms and social bonds to others.
- Most sociological theories of crime and deviance explain crime in relation to a social structure and core values from which the criminal deviates for some reason.
- Individuals increasingly focus on themselves, often with little regard and respect for others.
- Each crime becomes a one-off event expressing whatever identity an individual chooses, and is motivated by an infinite number of individual causes, including emotional reasons.
- E.g. low individual self-esteem may be overcome by criminal activities designed to earn respect from others by harming them.
Foucault (1991) pointed out that surveillance is penetrating more and more into private aspects of our lives, aided by new surveillance technology like CCTV, which monitors the movements of people in every sphere of life.
Understand the social distribution of crime by age, ethnicity, gender, locality, social class
- The peak age for offending is between 15 and 18, with young males much more likely to offend than females. Young people always been over-represented in the crime statistics
- Official statistics show that roughly half of all those convicted are aged 21 or under, and a 2002 self- report survey found that almost half of Britain’s secondary school students admitted to having broken the law.
- Status frustration (Cohen, 1971)
- Peer-group status and the focal concerns of lower-working-class subculture Miller (1962)
- Lower-working-class young males are more likely to engage in delinquency because their subculture has a number of focal concerns, which carry them into risk of law-breaking.
- The six focal concerns are: trouble; toughness; smartness; excitement; fatalism; autonomy.
- Edgework and the peer group - Police Stereotyping
- Techniques of neturalisation
- Afro Caribbeans were: more likely to be arrested for robbery; three times more likely to be cautioned by the police; three and a half times more likely to be arrested; if arrested, more likely to be charged and face court proceedings than to receive a caution; more likely, if found guilty, to receive a custodial (prison) sentence; five times more likely to be in prison.
- Asians were: twice as likely to be stopped and searched (mainly for drugs); more likely to be charged and face court proceedings than to receive a caution; more likely to receive a custodial sentence if found guilty; more likely to be arrested for fraud and forgery.
Explanations for links between ethnicity and crime
- Higher crime rates might reflect that compared to white people, minority ethnic groups tend to have higher proportions of young people, those suffering social deprivation and those living in deprived urban communities, rather than greater criminality arising from ethnicity itself.
Policing The Crisis (Hall et al, 1978)
- Examined the moral panic over “mugging” in the early 1970s. Selective and stereotypical reporting represented young black men as potential muggers and given the role of folk devils. In fact, mugging was not increasing dramatically.
- Men are many times more likely to be found guilty or cautioned for offending than women, for example: about 50 times more likely for sex offences; about 14 times more likely for burglaries
- Sex-role theory and gender socialization
- Social Control - Heidensohn: Patriarchal society imposes greater control over women, reducing opportunities to offend.1.The private domestic sphere: Responsibilities for domestic labour and childcare provide less time 2. The public sphere: Women are faced with controls arising from fear of physical or sexual violence if they go out alone at night. 3. The workplace: Women are often subject to sexual harassment and supervision by male bosses which restricts their opportunities to deviate.
- Chivalary Thesis - Paternalism and sexism on the part of the criminal justice system, such as the male-dominated police and courts, means that women are treated more leniently
- Growing female criminality: Changing gender roles and ‘laddette’ culture
- Sex-role theory and gender socialization
- The assertion of masculinity
- Connell (1987, 1995): There is a hegemonic masculinity (a male gender identity that defines what it means to be a ‘real man’; men who don’t want to be regarded as ‘wimps’, abnormal or odd are meant to accomplish this masculinity).
- Official crime statistics show that recorded crime higher in urban areas than in rural areas
- The British Crime Survey and police recorded crime show that rural areas, have lower rates of all types of crime; lower proportion of people with high levels of worry about crime; have lower levels of worry about high levels of anti-social behaviour in their area (e.g. vandalism, graffiti, and using drink or drugs in public places).
- Shaw and McKay (1931, 1942): Certain parts of cities have higher levels of crime than others. These are called zones of transition:
- 1.Social disorganization: The high rates of population turnover prevented the formation of stable communities, weaking the hold of established values and informal social controls which in more stable and established communities discourage deviance and crime.
- 2. Cultural transmission: In areas of social disorganisation, different delinquent values develop to which children living in such communities are exposed. These delinquent values are passed on from one generation to the next.
- 3. Differential association: If people associate with others who more commonly support crime over conformity, and live in a situation where it seems that ‘everyone’ is involved in deviant or criminal behaviour, then they are more likely to commit crime themselves. It is more probable that this will occur in zones of transition.
- Official statistics show that working-class people, particularly those from the lower working class, are more highly represented among offenders than those from other social classes.
- Social deprivation
- Strain theory and anomie - Merton’s (1968): Those living in deprived communities have fewer opportunities to achieve the goals they aspire to. These circumstances push people to ‘innovate’ and find alternative means reach success goals, such as crime
- Marginality, social exclusion, control and rational choice theories - In disadvantaged communities, there are likely to be high levels of marginality & social exclusion.
- Subcultural explanations - Cohen: The status frustration that all young people experience is particularly accentuated among working-class youth; Miller and the focal concerns of lower-working-class subculture that often carried with them risks of brushes with the law; Cloward and Ohlin (1960): In some working-class neighbourhoods, legitimate for achieving success are blocked, criminal subcultures may develop.
- Labelling, stereotyping and prejudice - The poorest sections of the working class and the areas in which they live, fit more closely the stereotypes held in police culture of the ‘typical criminal’ and criminal neighbourhoods.There is therefore a greater police presence in poorer working-class areas than in middle-class areas.
White Collar Crime
- Newburn (2007): The sociology of crime and deviance has tended to focus on the crimes of the powerless rather than the powerful.
- Sutherland (1949): Defined white-collar crime as “crime committed by the more affluent in society, who abused their positions within their middle-class occupations for criminal activity for personal benefit” and tried to show that crime was not simply a working-class phenomenon, but was widespread throughout all sections of society.
- White-collar crime includes offences such as bribery and corruption in government and business, fiddling expenses, professional misconduct, fraud and embezzlement.
However, there may be many white-collar criminals who simply don’t get caught or eve rhave their crimes detected. Why are white-collar crimes are under-represented in official statistics:
- 1 They are hard to detect.
- 2 They are often without personal or individual victims.
- 3 The crime may benefit both the parties concerned.
- 4 They are hard to investigate.
- 5 There is often a lack of awareness that a crime has been committed
- 6 Institutional protection means they are often not reported and prosecuted.
- 7 Even if reported, offenders have a better chance of being found not guilty.
- Globalization is the growing interdependence of societies across the world, with the spreadof the same culture, consumer goods and economic interests across the globe.
- Corporate crimes are increasingly global and transnational.
- Growing globalization and global communications offer new opportunities for crime and new means of carrying out crimes.
- Local and national crime is increasingly interlinked with crime through global criminal networks.
Karofi and Mwanza (2006) suggest that global crimes include, among others, the international trade in illegal drugs, weapons and human beings; money-laundering; terrorism; and cybercrime
- Many people have little or no direct personal experience of crime. For them the media often represents their point of information about crime. Folk devils and moral panics
- Media outlets such as newspapers and television devote a large proportion of their content to the coverage of crime. Others such as film, novels and video games have similar focus.
- Pearson: The media has, for many years encouraged a ‘fear and fascination’ with crime.
- News does not just happen, it is manufactured. People make decisions on what to report,how to report it and also on what not to report.
- There exists a set of news values which are criteria by which editors, reporters and journalists decide if a story is newsworthy i.e. worth reporting.
- Amongst these news values are things like how dramatic they are, how unusual, can they be personalised with an individual and do they involve risk and some form of excitement.
- Greer (2005): All media tend to exaggerate the extent of violent crime.
- Most crime is fairly routine, trivial and non-dramatic. However, TV programmes like Crimewatch often pick up on the more serious and violent offences with reconstructions giving quite frightening, dramatized insights into the crimes committed.
- Bandura’s laboratory experiments, sought to establish a link between viewing violent images and violent behaviour.
Theories of Mass Media
Marxists; 1. The crimes of the ruling class or those at the higher end of society are under-reported. The media’s emphasis on sexual and violent crime means less importance is attached to some very large and serious white-collar crimes and corporate crimes, which rarely get reported. 2. Crimes of the working class are over-reported. 3. The reporting of crime is used to maintain control over powerless groups
Feminist: Crime reporting reinforces the stereotyping and oppression of women, Women are portrayed as victims - under reporting of violence against women e.g. domestic violence, They are highly critical of reporting of sex crimes against women as a way to provide entertainment.
Pluralist: In reporting crime the media helps to keep social solidarity, Crimes reported tend to reflect the things people are most concerned about and most want to see reported, thus they create demand which is met by the media, Different forms of media report different crimes in different ways, they are not all dominated by a single ideology or small group of owners pushing the same agenda.
Post Modernist: Baudriallard. Media creates reality – people have no understanding of crime only the representations of crime they experience through the mass media.
Media Representations of Social Groups
- The Young - Hoodies, chavs, gangs, binge drinking, and all the rest of the negative images of the young as deviant groups either waiting to or actually causing trouble.
- Social Class - Moral Panics about 'scroungers', chavs etc, White collar and corporate crime not covered.
- Ethnicity - Black and Asian minority ethnic groups are often represented in the media in the context of violence and criminality, as scapegoats on which to blame a range of social problems, and are over-represented in a limited range of degrading, negative and unsympathetic.
- Gender - Women as victims, Male crimes, especially of violence presented as part of ‘natural’ male hegemonic masculine identity,
- Crime presents a role model of masculinity which may influence young men. All this can be linked to the audience effects debate.
- Sexuality - Crichter (2003): There had been a moral panic about aids with the media claiming it was a ‘natural’ consequence of, mainly male, gay sexual behaviour, which they portrayed as deviant. Part of the discourse of much of mass media mixes gay identities with child abusers. This is entirely unjustified as sexual identity is no great predictor of the likelihood of an individual to sexually abuse children.
- Offences committed by large companies to directly profit to the company rather than
- Slapper and Tombs (1999): Identified six types of corporate offence:
- 1. Paperwork and non-compliance: Offences where correct permits or licences are not obtained, or companies fail to comply with health and safety and other legal regulations.
- 2. Environmental/Green crimes: Damage to the environment caused either deliberately or through negligence, and can cover a wide range of offences. Some are not technically illegal. E.g. Illegal dumping or disposal of hazardous waste,waste in general; Discharge or emission of dangerous/toxic substances into the air, soil or water. The destruction of wide areas, through oil spills or unchecked exploration or development.
- 3. Manufacturing offences: Eg. the incorrect labelling or misrepresentation of products and false advertising, producing unsafe or dangerous articles, or producing counterfeit goods.
- 4. Labour law violations: Offences such as failing to pay legally required minimum wages, ignoring dangerous working practices, or causing or concealing industrial diseases. E.g. health and safety violations.
- 5. Unfair trade practices: False advertising and anti-competitive practices, such as price fixing and illegally obtaining information on rival businesses.
- 6. Financial offences: Tax evasion & concealment of losses and debts.
- State crimes are linked to governments or other agencies involved in the running of countries.
- Whilst states are responsible for making laws they must also act within them and there is also international law on a range of human rights issues. However the situation is complicated because states not only make the laws in their country they also enforce them.
- The victims of state crime are often relatively powerless individuals or groups and this makes it even more difficult for them to get justice.
- E.g. Torture and illegal treatment or punishment of citizens; War crimes, involving illegal acts committed during wars, like the murder, ill- treatment, torture or enslavement of civilian populations or prisoners of war, and the plundering of property; Genocide, mass murder of people with the aim of eliminating that group, Terrorism, Violations of human rights.
- Cohen has been especially interested in how states attempt to conceal or justify their illegal activities: 1.Complete denial that any crime took place, 2. An attempt to change how the act or acts are described, for example something was ‘an accident’, 3. involves providing a justification for the actions such as the state was protecting its members.
- Chambliss: State crime is the result of strain, the state is torn between different objectives
- Milgram: People who inflict pain and suffering might be psychologically normal but be acting out of character because of pressure from the role they are playing.
- Green crime is an illegal activity which has an impact on the environment. This can involve the actions of individuals, private companies or even nation states.
- Until quite recently certain events such as flooding, drought or famine were seen as ‘natural’ disasters which suggested they were events outside the control of people.
- However increasingly scientists and others became aware that many of these events were linked to human activity such as deforestation or the emission of greenhouse gases.
- This is important because a considerable amount of harm is done to the environment by actions which do not appear to break any specific law.
- For example hunting and trading in certain animals often only becomes illegal when they become threatened with extinction yet the harm has been done long before laws are passed.
- Also environmental harm crosses national boundaries but often these countries have very different laws.
- Therefore actions within the law in some countries could have serious environmental effects in others.
- Primary and Secondary Green Crime
The Criminal Justice System
- The criminal justice system consists of agencies like the police, Crown Prosecution Service, courts, prisons and the probation service. These are overseen by the government departments of the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.The Youth Justice Board oversees youth justice, and advises the Ministry of Justice on youth offending.
- These agencies are the main means of identifying, controlling and punishing known offenders.
- England and Wales now have the highest imprisonment rate in the European Union.
- There is no convincing evidence that putting more people in prison significantly reduces crime.
- Imprisonment isn’t stopping people from reoffending, nor are high levels of imprisonment making much impact on reducing crime.
- Left Realism tends to emphasise the social causes of crime, which might be characterised as tough on the causes of crime.
- Right Realism lays more stress on situational crime prevention and being tough on the criminals.
- Increase Social Control - intergrate people into communties to enourage individuals to think about actions (use parents, neighbourhood watch schemes, crack down on anti social behaviour, supervise offenders, more policys and arrests, Zero-tolerance policing)
Suicide - Durkheim
- Show that even a highly individual act like suicide is a product of forces (e.g. demographic characteristics, values, beliefs etc) & that explaining the suicide rate doesn't depend on understanding the consciousness, intention or mental/psychological state of the suicide victim.
- Causes of suicide: Durkheim suggested that suicide was determined by two social facts:
- 1. Social Integration: The extent that individuals feel a sense of belonging to a social group/society and feel an obligation to its members. Achieved through family, religions etc
- 2. Moral Regulation: The extent to which individuals actions and desires are kept in check by norms and values. Achieved through social control and socialization.
- Suicide results from either too much or too little social integration and moral regulation.
- Durkheim’s four types of suicide:
- Ecoistic Suicide - insufficiently integrated (a lack of family relationships.)
- Altruistic Suicide - so well integrated they sacrificed themselfs for others
- Anomie Suicide - does not regulate the individual sufficiently (societies guidelines unclear)
- Fataslisitic Suicide - society retrict the individual too much (escape from unending despair)
Douglas: Sees suicide statistics as the result of negotiations between the different parties involved, rather than objective facts. The decision as to whether a sudden death is suicide is made by a coroner and is influenced by other people, such as the family and friends of the deceased.
There are 4 most common social meanings of suicide in Western industrial society:
- 1. Transformation of the self: Suicide as a means of getting others to think of you differently / self punishment to show repentance for wrongdoing.
- 2. Transformation of the Soul: Suicide as a means of escaping the misery of this life/ way of getting to heaven.
- 3. Sympathy Suicide: Suicide as a cry for help.
- 4. Revenge Suicide: Suicide as a means of getting revenge by making others feel guilty.
Atkinson: Coroners have a ‘common-sense theory’ of suicide. If information about the deceased fits the theory, they are likely to categorise his or her death as suicide. They consider: 1. whether or not suicide notes were left or threats of suicide preceded death; 2 the particular mode of dying; 3 the location and circumstances of death; 4 the mental state and social situation of the victim.