Crime and deviance:Topic 7A

New right and right realsit explanations of crime and deviance

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  • Created on: 15-05-15 14:21

the new right: Underclass theory

  • Marsland- argues that the wellfair state is responsible for the emergence of the underclass because wellfair dependency has undermined peoples sense of commitment and obligation to support eachother. People belonging to the underclass allegedly are "workshy" as they prefer to live off benefits.
  • Murray- veiws the underclass as lacking in moral vlaues especially commitment to marriage and family life.A large percentage of underclass children ar ebrought up by single mothers who are allegedly inadequete and irresponsible parents. Absent fathers mean that boys lack paternal dicipline and appropriate role models.
  • As a result young males turn to other often delinquent role models on the street and gain status through crime rather than supporting hteir families through a steady job. They are also generally hostile towards the police and authority Right Realists therefore see this alleged underclass as the main cause of crime in recent years in inner city areas and on council estates.
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Evaluation of underclass theory

  • Underclass is a loaded term and so difficult to reaserch- are people likelly to admit to being a part of it when filling in a questionaire or responding to an interview? Criticised for failing to provide convincing evidence for the existence of this subculture Questionaire survyes aimed at the poort suggest that they subscribe to the same type of beleifs as most other people with regards to jobs that unemployment, povery, debt has a negative effect on self esteme and health.
  • Charlesworth-used ethnographic reaserch to investigate the effects of unemployment and poverty on people living on a council estate in rotherham. He took a flat on the estate and used both participant obs and conversational interveiws to document the daily life of the poor. He found miserable economic conditions have a profound negative effect on peoples physical and mental health many of the unemployed suffer from depression, many felt robbed of identity and value as they didn't have a job although some were motivated by their conditions to commit crime most didn't and there were few signs of the anti social underclass identified by Murray.
  • Rex and Thomlinson- reject the idea of the underclass as a deviant subculture which is voluntarily unemployed and devoted to crime and point out that poverty is often caused by factors beyond the control of the poor e.g global recession, goverment policies
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Wilson broken windows theory

  • Wilson argued that crime flourishes in situations where social control breaks down. Acording to his analysis in any community a proportion of the population are likely to engage in incivilities which may consist of things such as dropping litter, vandalism or rowdey behaviour. In most communities this behaviour is prevented from going further by the comments and actions of other members of the local community. The amont and extent of incivilities are held in check by the responce of others however if the incivilities go unchecked then the entire social order of the area brekas down and gradually theres a move to more frequent and serious crime. He paralels this with the image of a building- has anyone ever seen just one window broken? When ones broken they all are- once crime is allowed to happen it flourashes.
  • He concludes that the police have a crucial role to play in restoring the balence of incivillitie and helping recreate community arguing that most police officers engage in law enforcment and it did relatively little to reconstruct comminities and prevent crime happening (only 3% of offenses result in a successful prosection). Police should instead focus on order maintanence- using the law to ensure tha smaller incivilities such as groups of rowdy youths, noisey parties, public drug use are all crushed. According to him this would help to  create a different veiw of what was acceptable behaviour and make public areas feel safe again for the magority of people.
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Wilson broken windows theory 2

  • After a version of his ideas were adopted in new yorkk under the slogan Zero Tollerance and there apeared to be a decline in crime the term was adopted throughout America and to some extent in the U.K as a description of much harsher street policing.
  • In later writings Wilson + Herrnstein- explore the "causes of crime" they maintain that crime is just something which is inevitable. However so far as causes can be ascertinained wilson argues that people are more likely to commit crime if they aren't socialised into acceptable behaviour in their childhood by their family- so that certain personality traits such as "impulsivness" and "lack of regard for others" come to the fore- he claims that families which have low intelligence are likely to be discordant and less likely to socialise their children correctly.
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Broken Windows theory Evaluation

  • Jones- argues that factors such as lack of investment are far more important than the nature of penalties in determining whether a neibourhood declines. He also argues that by concentrating attention on minor offences would mean that more serious offenders would be likely to get away with their criimes and her says that if some neibourhoods ae made more ordernly then the disorderly and criminals will just move their ctivities.
  • Some right realists are criticised for failing to theories the causes of offending and critics point to evidence showing high reoffending rates among offenders subject to hard life aproaches.
  • Mathews- conducted reasech comparing zero tollerance programmes with more liberal aproaches and found there was little difference between them in terms of their impact on crime rates.
  • Right realists were also criticised for ignoring the impact of stratification and povery on rates of offending and at the same time are criticised for accepting official stats uncritically.
  • Stan Cohen- argues that the New right thinking leads to class inequalities in victimisation- the rich live in "parinoid fortresses" or gated communities guarded by technology and private security forces thus displacing crime to poorer less protected areas.
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Rational choice theory: Clarke

Clarke argues that the decision to ommit crime is a choice based on rational calculation of the likely concequences. If the perceived rewards of crime outweigh the perceived costs or the rewards apear to be greater than those of non criminal behaviour then people will be more likey to offend.

Right realists aruge that currently te perceived costs of crime are low and this is why the crime rate has increased. Criminals perceive that theres little risk of being caught or punished and in any case formal punishments are weak as are informal family and community social controls.


Right realism over states the rationality of criminals- many crimes arent the result of rational deceisions i.e violent crime

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Control theory: Hirschi

  • Hirschi aruges that people are generally rational in terms of their actions and choices- they weigh up the costs and benefits of their behaviour and mkae choices about their actions on this basis.
  • Hirchi arues that msot people don't commit crime because they have four controls in their lives which mens that the costs of crime (i.e being caught and punished) clearly outwigh the economic and personal benefits of crime.
  • Attachment- means that they are commited to family relationships which may be threatened by involvment in criminality.
  • Commitment- ,eams that people have invested years in education building up a carear or buissness buying houses etc. All these may be lost and wasted if a person is involved in crime.
  • Involvemnt- means that people may be activelly involved in comminity life as volunteers, magistrates, parent governors at local schools etc. Respect and reputation would be lost if they engage in crime.
  • Beleif- means people may have been brought up to be strongly commited to beleifs in rules dicipline and respect ofthers and the law.
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Control theory: Hirschi 2

  • Hirschi suggests that these controls prevent many people from turning to crime because quite clearly the costs of being caught and publicly punished outweigh the benefits of crime i.e these people have a great deal to loose. As people start to get older they start to aquire these controls. Younger people have less to loose in terms of attachment and commitment- respect and reputation may be enhanced by criminality.
  • Like Durkheim Hirchi is more intersted in why most people conform ather than commit crime and concequently his theory is more about self control than criminality. however his theory implies that young people, ethnic minorities and members of the underclass ar emore likely to commit crime as they are more likely to lack the controls of attachment, commitment, involvment and beleif.
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  • Hirchi's work is interesting in tht it focuses on reasons for conformity rather than deviance.
  • The binds he identifies are taught through the process of socialisation however sometime social bonds can be used to explain deviance such as gangs or needigng to support a family in financial trouble
  • Assumes value concensus
  • Lack of empirical evidence
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