Explaining Crime and Deviant Behaviour - Sociological

Explaining Crime and Deviant Behaviour - Sociological

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  • Created by: Lollipop
  • Created on: 13-06-12 15:24


  • Society has accepted norms and values that most people follow - however, some young people may have been inadequately socialised by there parents on the norms and values of society or learned criminal norms and values because of criminal role models
  • Functionalists believe that shared norms and values in society are important for the success of society and crime and deviance is a threat to this success
  • However, they also see that crime can be functional for society by having clear boundaries of acceptable behaviour which are known by the arrest of those who do not follow the accepted norms and values of society
  • Crime and deviance strengthens bonds between people and reaffirms values when they are drawn together by horrific crime
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Peer groups and sub-cultures

  • Some sociologists explain crime and deviance in terms of the influence of peer groups
  • Being part of a group gives individuals a sense of belonging and within this group they may follow the norms and values of the majority particularly if they want to feel accepted by the group
  • Many of these groups are likely to develop their own norms and values which may differ from those of soceity - these groups are called sub-cultures
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Relative Deprivation

  • Growing up in a poor environment and lacking resources that most of the rest of society have eg. mobile phone could lead to criminal activity
  • Marxists explain crime by examining the type of society in which they live
  • They are critical of our society (capitalist society) which is based on values such as materialism (valuing material possessions), consumerism (wanting more and better goods eg. designer clothes) and competition between individuals to achieve these possessions
  • The media also reinforces these values through advertising
  • In this sort of society it is likely that some people will attempt to obtain material goods through any means including illegal means leading to criminal and deviant behaviour
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  • A label is a tag which is often attached to an individual or group
  • Labelling a person as a criminal can have serious consequences for a person's identity
  • If the negative label of a criminal is successfully applied, it tends to stick and people see the person as this label
  • After constant reinforcement, the individual comes to believe the label and takes on this role
  • The label then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
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  • The media reports criminal activities in a highly selective way
  • Cohen (1973) argued that through several stages, a group is identified and portrayed by the media as being 'troublemakers'  which leads to public outcry and the determination by the authorities eg. police to tackle this 'problem' group
  • This is known as amplification of deviance

The amplification of deviance process:

  • actual events reported by media
  • report raises concerns amongst the public who demand something is done about it
  • police respond by putting more police in area concerned
  • more people caught doing illegal act
  • media reports increase
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