Crime and Deviance Theme 12 - Victimology

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  • Women are more likley to be victims of sexual and domestic violence 
  • Working class tend to be victims of working class crime
  • Men are more likely to be victims of violent crime/'night crime'
  • Ethnic groups are more likely to be victims of hate crimes
  • The young are more likely to be victims of crime than the old                                                                                                                   


  • Positivist Sociology - there are certain types of people who are prone to becoming victims (physical/psychological/social reasons) and there are three features to positivist victimology:                                                                             

1. Patterns of victimology
2. Interpersonal crimes of violence
3. People who contribute to their own victimisation

  • Secondary Victimology - this is the aftermath of primary victimisation (being a victim of a crime) whereby victims may suffer further victimisation at the hands of the criminal justice system. There is also the fear of becoming a victim - crime creates an irrational fear of becoming a victim
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Patterns of Victimisation

                               PATTERNS OF VICTIMISATION                    FURTHER COMMENTS    

CLASS                  The highest rates of victimisation are               The poorest sections of the
                              found in unemployment, low income                working class are more likley 
                              families, long term sickness and in                   to be victims
                              areas of social deprivation

AGE                      The young are more likley to be victims            The lifestyles of the young give
                              of crime. 25% of 10 to 25 year olds                  them more opportunities to be
                              reported being victims of personal                    victims of crime
                              crimes such as assault and theft

ETHNICITY          Minority ethnic groups are more at risk             All ethnic groups have a higher
                             of becoming a victim than the white                  fear of being a victim of crime
                             population - differences explained by
                             age, social class, locality etc. 

GENDER             Women are more likely to be worried                 Young men are twice as likely
                            about being a victim of violent crime                  of being a victim of violent
                            and are more likely to be victims of                    crime than women. These 
                            intimate crime - r a p e, domestic                       crimes are less likely to be 
                            violence and sexual assualt etc.                         reported or recorded 

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Patterns of Victimisation

                                       PATTERNS OF CRIME                        FURTHER COMMENTS

REPEAT                        Crimes such as domestic                      Repeat victimisation ranges by 
violence and vandalism are                   offence type - victims are able to 
                                      prone to repeat victimisation                 take more preventable measures
                                                                                                     against some crimes, such as theft

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Perspectives and Victimology


  • Victims are people who have become detached from society - focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence, identify victims who have contributed to their own victimisation. Blame the victim for being detached - it's their choice                                                                                                               


  • Working class victimisation as a result of bourgeoisie control and dominant ideology 
  • Working class are ignored as victims                                                                                                            


  • Victimisation is a social construct - it fits a certain label, have to be affected by a certain crime to be labelled as a victim                                                                                                                                                                     


  • Working class are more likely to be victims, but are also more likely to commit crime because of a breakdown of informal social control - more crime, more victims
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Perspectives and Victimology


  • Is more victim focused, and believes that victimisation is a failure of the state
  • Believe in restorative justice - a way to help victims and understand their situation                                                                                                              


  • Crime has become more subtle online - younger victims of predoratory crimes, middle age women are susceptible to 'romance scams', s e x, drugs, human and organ trafficking has allowed for everyone to be a victim of wide-scale crime
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Domestic Violence Stats


  • 89% of assaults and physically violent incidents results in injury are committed by men against their female partners
  • Each year, about 150 people are killed through domestic violence - 80% women
  • Only about 1/4 of domestic violence is reported
  • 5% reported resulted in a conviction
  • Women make up 92% of all r a p e victims
  • 2/3 r a p e offences go unreported
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Explaining Victimisation


  • Identifying characteristics or circumstances in the victims which makes them different from non-victims
  • Victim precipitation - an evident component in several different types of crime, most notably homicide, assault, r a p e, and robbery. May also lead to a determination that the offender must have been significantly provoked by the victim in order to have acted violently
  • Victim proneness - individuals or groups who have characteristics which make them vulnerable to victimisation                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


  • Focuses less on blaming the victim and more on the role of the law and the criminal justice system in producing victimisation
  • Victimisation arises from wider social issues and circumstances than individual issues
  • Such as social deprivation and patriarchal ideology affects victimisation rates of the poorest and women
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Study in Domestic Violence


  • Used unstructured interviews (interpretivist qualitative method) to research domestic violence
  • Argued that we need to place domestic violence in a historical setting and that this approach exposes violence not as deviant or pathological but as normal and accepted as part of English culture
  • The legitimisation of violence by the wider socieyt is an important part of this approach
  • They suggest three aspects of English culture that seem especially important in understanding the cultural props supplied to violent men; women's place in history, patriarchy and ideological preparation
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Study in the Fear of Crime


  • Conducted a social survey (positivist quantitative questionnaire) of 176 women and 112 men in Scotland
  • Women report higher levels of fear than men, perhaps a surprising finding when crime statistics tell us that men are more likely to actually be victims of violent crime
  • However, the authors suggest that women exaggerate their fear of crime whilst men supress it because cultural responses to fear of crime are shaped by traditional hegemonic definitions of masculinity and femininity - men are worried about being seen as unmanly and socially undesirable whereas female fear of crime can be seen as a normal feature of a feminine personality
  • Twelve of the forty-eight questions were designed in order to operationalise (to be able to easily measure) the concept of 'social desirability' - the questions were written in a way that a given response was socially desirable (the 'expected' answer) but was unlikely to be true 
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