Female Crime

Female Crime

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  • Created by: Sophie
  • Created on: 18-06-12 17:04

Female crime

Lombroso & Ferrero argued that criminality is innate but there are very few 'born female criminals'. More recent psychological explanations argue high levels of testosterone in males lead to gender differences in violent offending.

However, sociologist look at a social rather than biological point of view.

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Functionalist sex role theory

Parsons traces differences in crime and deviance to the gender roles in the traditional nuclear family. (Female = expressive, Male = instrumental.) He argues that this means young boys shy away from feminine behaviour and seek to express masculinity, which can lead to deviance.

Cohen argues a lack of male role models means boys are likely to turn to male gangs as a source of masculine identity.

Walklate criticises sex role theory for it's biological assumptions, e.g that women have expressive roles like looking after children.

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Heidensohn - Patriarchal Control

womens behaviour is conformist because patriarchal society imposes control:

at home -  e.g Dobash and Dobash show male violent attacks stem from men's dissatisfaction with their wives domestic performance. Also, girls develop a 'bedroom culture' as they are controlled and kept at home.

in public - e.g Islington crime survey found 54% of woman avoided going out after dark, compared to just 14% of men. Also, women fear their 'reputation' will be altered if they are out at night.

at work - women are often 'overseen' by male managers and male supervisors. Sexual harassment is a way of keeping women in their place.

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Class & Gender Deal

Using unstructured interviews, Carlen studied 39 15-46 year old working class females who had been convited of certain crimes. 20 were in prison or youth offenders at the time. Carlen says working class woman are led to conform through the promise of 2 types of 'rewards'

class deal - the promise of material rewads.

gender deal - emotional rewards such as from family life by conforming to traditional norms.

If these rewards are not available or worth the effort, crime becomes more likely.

Carlen found poverty & being in care and oppressive family life were the main causes for criminality in her study.

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  • Carlen's sample was small and unrepresentative
  • Both can be accused of seeing womens behaviour as determined by outside forces - ignores free will.
  • They are from the 80's and can be seen as outdated - times have changed.
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