Crime and Deviance: Topic 11

Crime and locality

  • Created by: Sasha127
  • Created on: 20-05-15 10:57


  • This topic explores the relationship of crime and laces and times linking to a hardly original idea as since the earliest recorded history people have been warned against going to "dangerous places" particularaly at night time but sociologists have tanken this basic idea and explored the links between where people live, work and have their leasiure and crim patterns.
  • As a general rule more crime takes place in urban than rural areas.
  • Rural areas tend to contain relatively close knit communities where people are able to exercise far higher levels of personal social control over people they know. In urban areas the oposite may be true in so far that most social relationships tend to be relatively impersonal and hence lacking in close personal ties in such areas the influence of informal social controls may be much weaker.
  • Ferdinand Tonnies- expressed the difference in the basic form of social relationships by arguing that rural areas tend to be characterised by
  • gemeinschaft- small scale close knit communities where "everyone knows everyone" and people make it their buisness to know whats going on in their comminity.
  • Gesellschaft- communities that exist in urban areas are defined as large scale loosely knit communities where people come into contact with large numbers of other people in their everyday lives on a impersonal basis.
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Funcionalism- social disorganisation and zones of

  • In the late 19th and early 20th chicago was one of hte fastest growing cities in the USA also possessing one of the new departments of sociology and two of its reaserchers
  • Shaw and Mckay- began plotting the location of the addresses of those who commited crimes in the city, the results showing that if they divided the city into concrete zones each 5 zones they identified had different levels of offenders with zone 2 nearest the city centre showing the highest rates.
  • This was interesting in itself but they also found that beause of rapid social change the population living in zone 2 was changing regularaly so that although the various zones maintained their different levels of offenders ove time there were different offenders. This meant that there was somehting about the zones whick was linked to crime rates rather than individuals who lived there.
  • Shaw and Mc kay suggested that s each successive wave of imigrants arrived at the city they were moved into the cheepest and least desirable zones- the zones of transition over time some were successful and moved out to more affluent suberbs while the less successful remained the places of those who had moved on were taken by newer immigrants and so the process started again.
  • This pattern of high pop turnover created a state of social disorganisation where the informal mechanisms of social control which hold people back from crime were weak or absent.
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Funcionalism- social disorganisation and zones of

Cultural transmission

In their later writings Shaw and McKay altered the maening of 'social disorganisation' to mean a distinct set of values which provided an alternative to those of the mainstream society. This amended approach came to be known as cultural transmission theory arguing that among some groups of the most socially disorgansied and poorest zones in the city crime had become culturally acceptable and was passed on from one generation to the next s part of normal socialisation pattern. Successful criminals provide role models for the next generation by demonstrating both the normailty of criminal behaviour and that a criminal carear was possible.

Evalutation:These theories assumes there are common values in society and that crime occurs where these shared values brreak down many socs such as marxists question whether or not shared values exist in our compledx and multi cultural society.

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Left realism- relative deprivation and the inner c

  • Lea and young- its not poverty and unemployment which directly causes crime as despite the high unemployment in the 20's and 30's crime rates were considerably lower than they were in the boom years of the 80's. Acording to them the expectations of the 30's youth were much lower than those of contemporary young people who felt resentful at what they could actually earn compared to their expectations.
  • Young people in inner cities and social housing estates are likely to suffer from the highest levels od deprivation than those from more affluent areas they see wealth around them in other parts of the city nd in the media however have few oportunities to gain access to this wealth and feel marginalised and powerless.
  • One responce to this is to commit crime to acehive that wealth.
  • They point out that milatary style poilicing often goes on in urban areas particularaly targeted against members of minority ethnic groups. Tscktics such as "stop and search" alenate and criminalise many people and this can lead to the formulation of subcultures.
  • Evaluation:
  • Many poor young people don't commit crime-does left relaism just provide an excuse for crime and anti social behavoir?
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Right realism: the breakdown of social control in

Wilson- crime caused by incivilities, broken window theory.

Argues that social disorder is likely to occur if there is little sense of community or neibourhood as both formal nad informal social controls are weak. Members of the community may feel powerless and older members of the community may move away and more anti social ellements may replace them the police may feel that anti social behaviour isn't their responsibiliy as they target more serious types of crime.

Notes that public hpusing estates are more likely to experience social problems and most likely to be in tower blocks aruing these issues arise as residents don't take responsibility for communal area's and so anti social ellements take over.

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Right realism: the breakdown of social control in


The impact of the local authority housing decisions was clarified much later by bottoms- sompared 2 similar local authority housing estates seperated by a dual carrageway. Gardinia had 300% higher number of offenders and 350% higher level of crimes than stonewall the difference according to him was the result of a process of which he named tipping.

Most estates consist of a mixture of people from different backgrounds and with different forms of behaviour informal social control imposed b the majority of residents limits the offending behaviour of the "anti social minority" however if for any reason (such as local authority housing policy) the anti social minority grow in number their behaviour drives away some of the law abiding families those who wish to enter the estate tend to be relatives of the anti social families and this leads to a speed up in the law abiding residents who leave. The estate has "tipped" and becomes increasingly regarded as a problem estate those who are able to flee do so in Bottoms analysis Gardenia had tipped while Stonewall had not.

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Right realism: the breakdown of social control in


  • Skogan- in the USA fleshed out the idea of tipping suggesting that social control breaks down when a combination of physical seteriation in locl buildings and parks and social disorder in the form of public alchohol and drug use increase leading to a situation of disorder with 3 concequences:
  • Undermied the mechanisms of informal social control- leading people to withdraw this undermining the bnds between people
  • Generates worries about neibourhood safety - so people avoid going out at night and making it easier to commit street crime
  • Causes law abiding people who can afford to move out of the area- leading to a decrease in property values and the growth in housing to let.


right realsits are criticised for ignoring the impact of stratification and poverty rates of offending and the same time are criticised for accepting official stats uncritically.

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Familiar areas, oportunites and cognitive maps

  • P.J and P.L Brantingham- argue we all hold cognative maps of the towns and cities where we live so some parts of out local town are familar to us and other parts much less known in particular we know the routes to our homes, place of study, work and leisure.
  • Acording to the brantinahms offenders are most likely to commit offences where opportunities link with 'cognative known areas' and conversely that places which are less 'cognitively nown' are less likely to be burgaled.
  • An example of this is oportunity theory.
  • If crimes are most likely to be commited in areas which offenders know then the next question is why within these areas some properties are chosen and some aren't. Clarke awnsers this with oportunity
  • Oportunity consists of two ellements: how attractive the target is- how much can be gained by commiting a crime against this particular person or place and if tis property how easy is it to carry away and sell afterwards
  • How accesable the target is- how easy is it to commit the crime.
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Familiar areas: evaluation

  • Evaluation
  • Official stats show that most crime takes place in poor areas and is commite dby other poor people from that area not a robin hood style method of redistrobuting wealth from rich to poor. Left realist victim surveys show how fer of crime damages the life of many poorer people in urban areas. Clarkes point how students are soft targets for burglaries due to minimum security and high value items ie smart phones.
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The Nocturnal economy: crime at night in city cent

Busy city centres with families shopping during the day becomes the location of the young seeking pleasure atnight- therfore the locations meaning changes with the closing of shops and coming of darkness.

Hobbs and Lister- "the nocturnal economy" pointing out that in the last 15 years theres been a huge growth in pubs and clubs as Britians younger people have increasingly embraces the leasure society involving going out at the weak end to consume achohol and drugs. in 2000 there was over 2000 million club admissions to the value of 2.5 billion meaning that there are huge numbers of young people coming together in a narrow time band to seek pleasure. Almost 3 quarters of violent incidents in urban areas occur during the weekends between 9pm and 3am usually by nd between groups of young males fulled by drink and drugs.

Theres relatively few police officers avalible at night so that a medium sized town may have 15,000 night time revlers and only 12 officers on duty. The bulk of "policing" is done by security guards.

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The nocturnal economy: evlauation

  • Neo Marxism: sociologist point out that the way urban areas ar epoliced reflect not a real crime problem but an alternative "clamp down" on the working clss pointing to the way which the police and other authorities ignore corporate and white collar crime wellfiar claiments are punished sevearly whereas huge tax avioding corporations such as google and amaxon are delt with very gently.
  • What they see as crime occurs mostly in the boardroom.
  • Feminists- have brought domestic violence and child abuse and crimes aginst women to our attention. For many fems the home is the most dangerous place for women and children and the most likely scene of crime.
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