Theories of crime and deviance

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Durkheim's functionalist theory

To achieve solidarity, societies 2 functions are to socialise the shared culture to its members, and to maintain social control to ensure the member behave the way society wishes them to.
Too much crime destablisises society, but is inevitable and universal. Crime is found in all societies because some individuals are prone to deviate as not everyone is socialised into the shared norms and values, and also because there is a high diversity of lifestyles who may have different norms and values which mainstream society see as deviant.
Durkheim believe we are moving towards a more anomie society where rules are less clear-cut as the shared culture becomes weaker in a diverse society.

There are 2 positiive functions of crime.
1. Boundary maintainance - crime causes a societal reaction which unites them together and reinforces their commitment to shared norms and values. Punishment's purpose is to reaffirm societies shared rules and reinforce social solidarity.
2. Adaption and change - Change starts with a deviant act. Individuals have new ideas and values which allow them to challenge and change existing norms and values, which will appear deviant at first.

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Durkheim's functionalist theory (2)

Davis - prostitution releases mens sexual frustration without threatening the monagamous nuclear family.

Erikson - society may be organised to promote deviance. The true function of agencies of social control e.g. police, is to sustain a certain level of crime rather than get rid of it.

Durkheim doesnt say how much crime is the right amount.
Functionalists ignore the effects of crime of different groups or individuals, as it focuses on sociey as a whole.
Ignore the fact that crime can have the opposite effect, and isolate individuals e.g. women staying indoors as they fear attack.

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Merton's strain theory

People engage in deviant behaviour because they can't achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means.

Merton see's deviance as a strain between the goal that a culture encourages individuals to achieve and what society allows them to achieve. Merton combines both structural and cultural factors to explain deviance.

The American dream

This idea tells Americans that they anyone who makes the effort can get ahead. They are expected to persue this goal by legitimate means - self-discipline, study, educational qualifications and hard work in a career.
Many disadvantaged groups are denied opportunities to achieve legitimately e.g. poverty, which results in strain between the cultural goal of money success and the lack of opportunies to achieve this legitimately. This results in pressure to use illegitimate means e.g. crime and deviance.

Merton argues that an individuals position in ther social structure affects the way they adapt or respond to the strain of anomie (pressure to deviate).

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Merton's strain theory (2)

5 types of adaptation

1. Conformity - accept goals, achieve legitimately, middle-class

2. Innovation - accept goals, illegitimate means

3. Ritualism - give up achieving goals, internalise legitimate means, follow rules

4. Retreatism - reject goals and legitimate means, become drop-outs

5. Rebellion - replace goals with own

Explains patterns in official crime statistics - most crime is property crime as Americans value material wealth, lower-class crime is higher as they have less opportunities to achieve legitimately
Official statistics over represent working-class crime, so does Merton
Not all working-class deviate even though they exprerience the most strain (deterministic)
Ignores the role of group deviance e.g. gang crime, and focuses on individuals adaptations to strain
Ignore the fact that not everyone may share the goal of 'money success' in the first place

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Subcultural strain theories

Cohen: status frustration

Deviance results from the inablility of the lower classes to achieve mainstream success goals by legitimate means.

Focuses on working-class boys who face anomie and suffer cultural deprivation and lack skills to achieve. As a result of this they suffer 'status frustration' and have to adjust to the low status given to them by mainstream society. They resolve frustration by rejecting mainstream values and form a delinquent subculture.

The delinquent subculture turns mainstream values upside down, so what society condemns, the subculture praises - vice versa. This means that the boys have another way to achieve status through their deviant acts.

Offers explanation of non-utiliarian crime among working-class
Help to explain non-economic deviance e.g. vandalism, truancy
Ignores possibility that they didnt share mainstream success goals in the first place so never saw themselves as failures

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Subcultural strain theories (2)

Cloward and Ohlin: 3 subcultures

Working-class youths are denied opportunities to achieve 'money success', and deviance is a response to this.

Different subcultures respond in different way to the lack of opportunities - Cloward and Ohlin attempt to explain why these occur.

In their view, it isnt just caused by unequal access to the legitimate opportunity structure, but unequal access to illegitimate opportunity structures.

1. Criminal subcultures - apprenticeship for a career in utilitarian crime and associate with adult criminals who provide youths with training and opportunities for employment in the ciminal career ladder.
2. Conflict subcultures - high levels of social disorganisation and prevents a stable criminal network developing. Illegitimate opportunities available within loosly organised gangs where violence releases men's frustration.
3. Retreatist subcultures - not everyone is successful at becoming a criminal or gang leader, so they turn to this, and is based on illegal drug use.

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Subcultural strain theories (3)

Ignore crimes of the wealthy as they focus on working-class crimes
They provide an explanation for different types of working-class deviance
Cloward and Ohlin ignore that the subcultures can overlap
Assumes everyone accepts mainstream goals in the first place
MATZA - people are not strongly committed to their subculture, they drift in and out of deviance
Major implications on government policies e.g. crime policy in the USA

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Labelling Theory: Social construction

The social construction of crime
It is not the nature of the act that makes it deviant, but the nature of society's reaction to the act. - 'deviance is in the eye of the beholder'
- the role of 'moral entrepreneurs' (people who lead a moral crusade to change the law as they believe it will benefit those involved) has 2 effects:
1. Creates a group of outsiders - who break the new rule
2. Create or expand social control agencies to enforce the rule and label offenders
An example: campaign to protect young people at risk enabled juvenile courts to be established.

Who? Punishment depends on the persons interactions with agencies of social control, their appearance and background, and the situations and circumstances of the offence. e.g. sex, gender, ethnicity, manner, dress.
Cicourel - Arrests are influenced by stereotypes of offenders, and led them to concentrate on certain 'types' of people. This resulted in class-bias laws, police patrolling working-class areas intensively, leading to more arrests, confirming their stereotypes. he believed justice is negotiable not fixed so shouldn't take crime statistics at face value.

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Labelling theory: The effects

Labelling theorists believe labelling encourages more deviant behaviour from individuals.

Primary and secondary deviance
Lemert - Primary deviance relates to deviant acts that haven't been publically labelled, they can just be a 'moment of madness' so aren't worth searching for the causes. Primary deviants don't see themselves as deviant.
Secondary deviance is the result of societal reaction which becomes the 'master status' leading to the self-fulfilling prophecy and encouraging a deviant career for the individual.
Young - drugs were peripheral to a hippy lifestyle, but prosecution from the police led hippies to see themselves as outsiders, so drugs became a central activity and they began to create a devaint subculture.
Labelling theorists point out a deviant career isn't inevitable as a result of labelling.

Deviance amplification
The attempt to control deviance leads to an increase in the level of deviance, leading to more attempts to control it, leader to more deviance etc etc. Example Mods & Rockers.

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Labelling theory: The effects (2)

Labelling and the criminal justice system
Increases in the attempt to control and punish young offenders have the opposite effect.
Triplett - increasing tendancy to see young offenders as evil and to be less tolerant of minor deviance. The Criminal justice system has labelled status offences e.g. truancy, as more serious offences, resulting in much harsher sentences, increasing the level of violence amongst youth.
This indicates labelling theory has important policy implications as negative labelling pushes offenders towards a deviant career, suggesting there should be fewer rules for people to break.

Reintegrative shaming
Braithwaite - two types of negative labelling:
1. Disintegrative shaming (person labelled)
2. Reintegrative shaming (act labelled not person) - avoids secondary deviance

Ignores the status offenders believe they get, focuses on negative effects for offender
Ignores that individuals can choose to be deviant in the first place
Implies deviance only occurs because of labelling, without it, there would be no deviance

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Marxist theories: Traditional

  • 2 classes: ruling capitalist class and the working class
  • Sees society as a structure with economic base which determines the shape of the superstructure (made up of social institutions with the function to maintain the capitalist economy and serve the interests of the ruling class)
  • Capitalism causes crime, so crime is inevitable - Criminogenic Capitalism
  • Capitalism exploits the working class,so it is damaging to them and may cause crime due to poverty (as a way of survival), being the only way to obtain consumer goods, and alienation&lack of control may result in crime due to frustration and aggression
  • Ruling class also commit white-collar and corporate crimes e.g. tax evasion
  • Gordon - crime is a response to a capitalist system so is found in all social classes
  • Laws only serve the interests of the capitalist class, but may appear to to serve working-class interest. And have the power to prevent laws that threaten their interests
  • Working class are criminalised, whereas crimes of the powerful are ignored by police and courts
  • Law, crime and criminals benefit only benefit capitalism
  • The state enforces the law and divides the working-class by encouraging them to blame the criminal, not capitalism.
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Marxist theories: Traditional (2)

Puts labelling theory into a wider structural context - selective enforcement of the law
Explores crimes of the powerful as well as the working class
Ignores other factors that can cause crime e.g. ethnicity, gender
Not all poor people commit crime even with the pressure of poverty
Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates

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Marxist theories: Neo-Marxism

  • Influenced by traditional Marxism, and combine the ideas with other approaches e.g. labelling theory
  • Taylor et al. - capitalist society based on exploitation (and should be replaced with a classless society to reduce crime), with laws in the interests of the capitalist class
  • Crime is a meaningful action and a conscious choice by the actor
  • Crime has a political motive who deliberately strive to change society
  • Individuals shouldn't be labelled deviant, they should be free to live their lives as we wish (diversity)
  • Aim for a 'fully social theory of deviance' - a comprehensive understanding of crime and deviance that would help change society for the better
  • Theory has two sources: Traditional Marxism (unequal wealth distribution, ruling class have the power to enforce the law) and Interactionism&labelling theory (meaning of the deviant act, societal reactions, effects of the label on the deviant)
  • Need to combine: Wider origins of deviant act, Immediate origins of deviant act, the act and its meaning, Immediate origins of social reaction, Wider origins of social reaction and the effects of labelling
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Marxist theories: Neo-Marxism (2)

Gender blind - focus on male criminality at the expense of female criminality
Makes working-class criminals look like 'Robin Hoods' and re-distribute wealth, when they simply prey on the poor
Ignore effects on working-class victims
Hopkins-Burke - Too general to explain crime, and too idealistic to be useful in tackling crime

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Realist theories: Right

  • See crime as a growing problem that destroys communities, undermines social cohesion and threatens societies work ethic
  • Very influential
  • Search for practical crime control measures
  • Best way to reduce crime is through punishment and control rather than rehabilitating offenders or tackling the causes
  • Want to provide realistic solutions


  • Wilson and Herrnstein - crime is caused by a combination of biological and social factors. Some people innately more strongly predisposed to commit crime than others e.g. personality traits such as aggression. Low intelligence is the main cause of crime, which is also biologically determined
  • Effective socialisation decreases the risk of offending as it involves learning self-control and internalising moral values of right and wrong. The best agency is the nuclear family
  • Murray - growing underclass fail to socialise their children properly as a result of
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Realist theories: Right (2)

welfare dependency (led to decline in marriage and more lone parent families). Lone mothers are ineffective socialisation agents for boys

  • Rational choice theory - individuals have free will and the power of reason.
  • Clarke - the decision to commit crime is a choice based on a rational calculation of likely consequences. If the rewards are likely to outweigh the costs of crime, people are more likely to offend
  • Crime increase because the percieved costs of crime are low
  • Felson - informal guardians are more effective than formal ones, such as the police

Tackling crime

  • Broken Windows - essential to maintain the orderly character of neighbourhoods to prevent crime. Any sign of deterioration must be dealt with immediately
  • 'Zero tolerance' towards undesireable behaviour
  • Policies should reduce rewards and increase the costs

Ignores wider structural causes, over emphasises biological factors, crime displacement caused, over emphasises control of disorder rather than tackling underlying causes

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Realist theories: Left

  • Sees society as unqual and capitalist
  • Gradual social change to achieve greater equality
  • Develop explanations of crime will lead to practical strategies to reduce it here and now
  • Crime particularly affects the disadvantages groups who are main victims
  • Crimes of the powerful are important
  • Need to focus on working-class crime and its effects
  • Working-class criminals mostly victimise other working-class people, not the rich
  • Increase in crime is a result of an increase in the reporting of crime or the increased tendency to label the poor (due to a social construction)


  • Lea and Young 
  • Relative deprivation - how deprived someone feels compared with their own expectations or in relation to others, they resort to crime to obtain what they feel they're entitled to as they feel resentment. Media and advertising make people more aware of this, raising expectations of material possessions. Combination of individualism and relative deprivation causes crime by encouraging self-interest.
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Realist theories: Left (2)

  • Subculture - subcultures are a group's solution to relative deprivation, either to close the gap or turn to religion for comfort. Criminal subcultures subscribe to mainstream goals and values, but their opportunities are blocked so they resort to street crime.
  • Marginalised groups lack clear goals and organisations to represent their interests and express their frustration through criminal means. Mainly youths.

Late modernity, exclusion and crime

  • We live in a society that is unstable, insecure and there is exclusion - making crime worse
  • Deindustrialisation and loss of unskilled manual jobs increased unemployment and poverty, so many jobs are now insecure, short term and low paid - increasing exclusion and marginalisation of those at the bottom
  • Greater inequality between rich and poor, encourages individualism and increased the sense of relative deprivation
  • Crime is more widespread and is found across the whole social structure
  • Boundary between acceptable and unacceptable becomes blurred
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Realist theories: Left (3)

Tackling crime

  • Public must be more involved in determining the police's priorities and style of policing
  • Police lose public support so they dont recieve as much information, so they rely on military policing
  • Must deal with local concerns and communities
  • a multi-agency approach - agencies, voluntary organisations and public support
  • Become more tolerant of diversity and cease stereotyping whole groups of people as criminals
  • Provide decent jobs for everyone, imporve housing and community facilities, tackle discrimination
  • government policies have been tougher on crime rather than tackling the underlying causes

Fails to explain corporate crime
Interactionist says they are unable to explain the offenders motives as they rely on quantitative data, and need qualitative data to reveal meanings
Assume value consensus exists and crime only occurs when this breaks down
Draws attention to reality of street crime and its effects on deprived victims

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Gender patterns

  • Most crimes appear to be committed by males - 4/5 convicted offenders are male
  • Official statistics show gender differences: more females commit property offences, more males commit violent or sexual offences and likely to repeat offend
  • Female crimes less likely to be reported or noticed than the sorts of crime committed by males
  • Females less likely to be prosecuted or are let off lightly

Chivalry thesis

  • Most criminal justice agents are men, and are socialised to act in a 'chivalrous' way towards women
  • Criminal justice system is more lenient with women so crimes are less likely to be included in official statistics, giving an invalid picture of gender differences
  • Official statistics are more exaggerated, but still show the correct patterns
  • Women are more likely to be cautioned rather than prosecuted
  • Farrington and Morris - study of 408 theft offences, women were not sentences more leniently
  • If women appear to be treated more leniently, it may be because their offences are less serious
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Gender patterns (2)

  • Women offenders more likely to show remorse so more likely to be cautioned
  • Feminists claims the criminal justice system is biased against women and treat females more harshly than males when they deviate from gender norms. Courts punish girls but not boys for premature or promiscuous activity.Women who don't conform to accepted standards of monogamous heterosexuality and motherhood are punished harshly. Courts are patriarchal

Explaining female crime

  • Differences in socialisation of males and females: males socialised to be tough, aggressive and risk taking so are more disposed to commit violent acts or take advantage of criminal opportunities
  • Parsons - differences in crime and deviance to the gender roles in the conventional nuclear family. Men take the instrumental role performed outside the home, and women take the expressive role within the home. This gives girls a role model, and means boys are more likely to reject feminine models of behaviour so engage in masculine behaviour which can lead to deviance
    assumes that because women can bear children they are best suited to expressive
    role, based on biological assumptions about sex differences
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Gender patterns (3)

Patriarchal control

  • Heidensohn - Patriarca society imposes greater control over women which reduces their opportunities to offend. Womens domestic role restricts their time and movement to within the house, reducing their opportunities. Girls are less likely to be able to go out and do what they like, so are more likely to socialise at home. Media and statistics make women fear to go out at certain times, therefore they have less opportunities to be deviant.

Class and gender deals

  • Carlen - Most convicted serious female criminals are working class. Working class women are led to conform through the promise of the class deal (offered material rewards) and the gender deal (material and emotional rewards) - women offend if they cant get these rewards. Use crime to escape poverty.
    Doesnt consider women's free will and choice in offending
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Gender patterns (4)

The liberation thesis

  • As women are freed from patriarchy, their crimes will become as frequent and serious as mens
  • As opportunities in education and work have become equal, women begin to adopt traditional male roles of work and crime
  • Media talk of more 'girl gangs' and adopting male behaviour such as being in control and trying to 'look hard'
    Female crime rate increasing before liberation movement, Most female criminals are working class which are less affected by liberation,

Why men offend?

  • Messerschmidt - masculinity is a social construct, to present to others. Hegemonic masculinity is the most dominant. Crime and deviance is a resource for some men to achieve masculinitye.g. white middle class youths who are deviant in order to achieve status in school
    Doesnt explain why not all men use crime to achieve masculinity, Can this explain all male crime? Is this a description more than an explanation?
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Gender patterns (5)

Postmodernity, masculinity and crime

  • deindustrialisation has led to loss of manual jobs where men could express their masculinity through physical labour
  • Now men use violence in order to show their masculinity
  • Organised professional criminal subculture - a way of earning and showing masculinity
  • Signs of masculinity e.g. the body, is important for example, for bouncers
  • This opens up new criminal opportunities for men
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  • Official stats suggests significant ethnic differences in involvement
  • Whites people are under-represented

Victim surveys

  • Show most crime is within ethnic groups rather than between
  • What crimes they have been victims of in the last 12 months
    Relys on memory, only cover personal crimes, exclude under 16s, exclude crimes by and against organisations

Self-report studies

  • Disclose their own dishonest and violent behaviour

Ethnicity, racism and criminal justice system

  • oppressive policing of minority ethnic communities
  • minority ethnic groups more likely to be stopped and searched whether they're suspicous or not
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Ethnicity (2)

  • Police racism, disproportionality in stop and search reflects ethnic differences in levels of offending
  • Minority ethnic groups more likely to deny offence and exercise their right to legal advice so more likely to be charged

Explaining differences in offending

  • Left realism - ethnic differences in stats reflect real differenes in levels of offending by different ethnic groups. Racism has led to marginalisation and economic exclusion of ethnic minorities. Media emphasises materialistic goals which ethnic minorities cant achieve. 1 response: delinquent subcultures to cope with relative deprivation. The differences in offending are caused by real differences in levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation.
  • Neo-marxism - Gilroy - ethnic minorities come to be criminalised so appear in greater numbers in the official stats, and ethnic crime is a form of political resistance against a racist society.

Victimisation - most go unreported, mixed race most at risk, crime prevention response

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Crime and the media

  • distorted image of crime, criminals and policing
  • over represent violent and sexual crime (only 3% of crime)
  • portray criminals & victims as older and middle-class
  • exaggerates police success
  • exaggerate risk of victimisation
  • reported as a series of seperate events
  • overplay extraordinary crimes
  • news is a social construction so they are decided whether or not they should be published, based on:
    • Immediacy, Dramatisation, Personalisation, Higher-status, Simplification, Novelty or Unexpectedness, Risk, Violence
  • Fictional representations of crime, criminals and victims are the opposite of official statistics, yet similar to news coverage
  • Property crime underrepresented, violent and sex crimes overrepresented, fictional homocides are calculated, Fictional cops get their man.
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Media as a cause of crime

  • Media have negative attitudes, values and behaviour especially to suseptable groups
  • Can cause crime through immitation, desensitisation, telling the techniques to commit the crime, glamourising offending
  • exposure to media violence has a small or limited negative effect on audiences
  • media exaggerate risk, distorting the public's impression of crime and causing an unrealistic fear of crime
  • Left realists - Mass media help increase the sense of relative deprivation among poor marginalised groups, as they portray everyone with the materialistic 'good life' as the norm which they should conform
  • Merton - pressure to conform can cause crime if they cant achieve legitimately

Moral panics

  • Media causes crime and deviance through labelling a groups a threatening values, creating a moral panic - causing self fulfilling prophecy, amplifying the problem
  • Mods and Rockers - 60s
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Crime and globalisation

  • increasing connectedness of crime across national borders
  • globalisation creates new opportunities for crime, new means of committing crime and new offences e.g. cyber-crime
  • Arms trafficking, trafficking nuclear materials, smuggling illegal immigrants, trafficking women and children, sex tourism etc.
  • global criminal economy has a demand side and a supply side - without the growing demand there isnt an economy, and without a supply side, the demands wont be met
  • globalisation creates a new mentality of risk conciousness - much comes from media
  • resulted in intesification of social control nationally, Uk toughened border control
  • Taylor - globalisation led to changes in pattern and extent of crime by creating greater inequality and rising crime. Allowed TNCs to manufacture in low wage countries - poverty, unemployment and job insecurity. Marketisation encourages people to see themselves as individual consumers, undermining social cohesion - encouraging to turn to crime.
  • Hobbs and Dunningham - change in crime patterns. Crime works as a glocal system (locally based, global connections). McMafia (relationship between criminal organisation and globalisation) protect wealth of profits from oil, gas, diamonds and metals, using mafia and were able to move it out of Russia.
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Green crime

  • Crime against environment - linked to globalisation (threats to ecosystem are global)
  • Threats are now mainly human made rather than natural
  • increase in productivity and the technology that sustains it create manufactured risks e.g. global warming
  • traditional criminology - no law has been broken
  • green criminology - any action that harms the environment even if there is no law broken
  • what may be harmful in one country, may not be in another - sp powerful interests should define what counts as unacceptable environment harm
  • Primary crimes - crimes that result directly from the destruction and degradation of the earths resources.
    1. Crimes of air pollution - burning of fossil fuels, 2. Crimes of deforestation - illegal logging, 3. Crimes of species decline and animal rights - trafficking of parts or illegal hunting, 4. Crimes of water pollution - dumping of toxic waste and sewage discharge
  • Secondary crimes - crime that grows out of the floating of rules aimed at preventing or regulating environmental disasters.
    1. State violence against oppositional groups, 2. Hazardous waste and organised crime
    recognises environmental issues, doesnt focus on legally defined crimes so unclear
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State crimes

  • illegal or deviant activities perpetrated by, or with the complicity of, state agencies
  • four categories of state crime: 1. political crimes, 2. crimes by security and police forces, 3. economic crimes, 4. Social and cultural crimes
  • Reasons state crime is most serious:
    • 1. The Scale - power of state allows extremely large-scale crimes with widespread victimisation. Potential to inflict massive harm, but able to conceal crimes and avoid punishment
    • 2. The state is the source of law - they define what is criminal, so can avoid defining its own harmful actions as criminal.
  • Critical criminologists suggest we should define crime in terms of violation of basic human rights, rather than the breaking of legal rules. So states denying individuals of their rights, are criminal. The state can be seen as a perpretrator of crime and not simply as the authority that defines and punishes crime - crime is inevitably political.
    economic exploitation isnt criminal, but is morally unacceptable
  • Matza - 5 neautralisation techniques that delinquents use to justify their deviant behaviour 1. Denial of victim (exxagerate), 2. Denial of injury (they started it), 3. Denial of responsibility (it was my duty), 4. Condeming the condemers (everyones picking on us), 5. Appeal to higher loyalty (self-righteous justification)
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State crimes (2)

  • Criminal actions are part of a role into which individuals are socialised
  • Kelman and Hamilton identify 3 features that produce crimes of obedience:
    1. Authorisation (approved by those with authority), 2. Routinisation (pressure to turn a criminal act into routine), 3. Dehumanisation (enemy portrayed as sub-human and like an animal or monster)
  • Modern society creates these conditions to enable vast scale crime to be explained e.g. the holocaust.
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Crime prevention and control


  • aim to reduce opportunities of crime
  • directed at specific crimes, involve managing or altering immediate environment, aim at increasing the effort and risks of committing crime and reducing the rewards
  • 'target hardening' e.g. locking windows and doors, makes it harder and more effort for the burglar
  • Felson - Port Authority Bus terminal NYC was poorly designed e.g. toilets were easy for rough sleeping and drug dealing etc. Re-shaping physical environment greatly reduced such activity. e.g. large sinks used by homeless to bath, were replaced with smaller.
    Doesnt dispace crime, simply displaces it (moving to where targets are softer) - Several types of displacement: spatial, temporal (time), target (victim), tactical (method) and functional (type of crime), focuses on petty street crime, ignores root causes of crime
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Crime prevention and control (2)

Environmental - Wilson and Kelling

  • Broken windows
  • Zero tolerance - cars taken out of service until graffiti cleaned off, decline in crime rates in major US cities, decline in cocaine availability, homocide deaths decreased - INFLUENTIAL

Social and community crime prevention

  • emphasise firmly on potential offender and their social context
  • aim to remove the conditions that predispose individuals to crime in the first place
  • general social reform programmes addressing issues such as poor housing
  • Perry pre-school project for disadvantaged black children, 3-4 year olds offered two-year intellectual enrichment programme and recieved weekly home visit. After 40 years, they had significantly lower lifetime arrests, had graduated from high school and were in employment - compared to control
    Ignore crimes of powerful
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  • punishing offenders prevents future crime
  • Deterrence - discourages them from future offending
  • Rehabilitation - punishment reforms or changes offenders si they no longer offend
  • Incapacitation - remove offenders capacity to offend


  • punishing crimes that have already been committed, rather than preventing future crimes
  • offenders deserve to be punished
  • society is entitled to take revenge

Durkheim - functionalist

  • to uphold social solidarity and reinforce shared values
  • punishment should be expressive - express emotions of society
  • Retibutive justice - traditional society, collective conscience, solidarity based on similarity, punishment severe and purely expressive
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Punishment (2)

  • Restitutive justice - modern society, solidarity basedon interdependence between individuals, aims to restore how it was before, instrumental but still expressive


  • how punishment is related to a class society and how it serves ruling class interests
  • punisment maintains social order - defends ruling class property against lower classes
  • under capitalism, imprisonment is dominant as the economy is based on exploitation of wage labour


  • Sovereign power - punishment on the body and was a spectacle e.g. public execution
  • Disciplinary power - discipline seeks to govern body and mind through surveillance
  • Panopticon - all cells visible from central watch tower, prisoners think they 'might' be being watched, so behave. surveillance turns to self surveillance
  • shift from corporal punishment to umprisonment less clear, neglects expressive (Durkheim), exaggerates extent of control
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Punishment (3)

  • 1993-2005 70% increase in prison population - largly male
  • Major goal to divert young offenders - e.g. using probation to avoid self fulfilling prophecy
  • Community controls may divert them to it, rather than away from crime
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Positivist victimology

  • identify factors that produce patterns in victimisation
  • focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence
  • identify victims who contribute to their own victimisation
  • victims invite victimisation by being the kind of person they are
  • victims can trigger the event, e.g. by using violence first
  • ignores wider structural factors, blames the victim nearly, ignores when victim is unaware of their victimisation

Critical victimology

  • Structural factors e.g. partiarchy, poverty - place powerless groups in greater risk
  • State's power to apply or deny label of victim - victim is a social construct
  • by concealing true extent of victimisation hides crime of powerful and denies powerless victims any redress
  • ignores how victims can cause the crime

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Victims (2)


  • Risk unevenly distribute between social groups
  • Class - poorest likely to be victimised
  • Age - younger people more at risk , infants under one at most risk of murder, teenagers vulnerable to offences e.g. assault
  • Ethnicity - minority ethnic groups at most risk
  • Gender - males more at risk of violent attacks, women more at risk of stalking, sexual assaults, domestic violence, harassment, trafficking


  • serious physical and emotional impacts
  • disrupted sleep, feeling of helplessness, difficulties in social functioning
  • crime creates indirect victims e.g. friends, family
  • secondary victimisation - individuals suffer further victimisation at hands of criminal justice system
  • fear of victimisation - crime creates fear of becoming a victim e.g. women fear going out due to attacks
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Suicide - Durkheim & positivism

  • our behaviour is caused by social facts, therefore so is suicide
  • suicide rates arent just a result of the individuals motives, more the effect of social facts or forces acting upon individuals
  • 2 social facts that determine suicide rate:
    • Social integration - extent to which person feels they belong to a group or have obligation to the members
    • Moral regulation - extent to which persons actions and desires are kept in check by norms and values 
  • suicide is a result of too much or too little integration or regulation
  • 4 types of suicide:
    • Egoistic- too little social integration, most common, caused by excessive individualism and lack of social ties & obligation to others e.g. Protestants
    • Altruistic- too much social integration, little value and groups interest overrides individual interests, self-sacrifice, 'duty' e.g. soldiers
    • Anomic - too little moral regulation, societies norms are unclear or made obselete by rapid social change
    • Fatalistic - too much moral regulation, society controls individual completely so they believe they can do nothing to affect their situation
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Suicide - Durkheim & positivism (2)

  • Modern industrail societies - lower levels of integration, individual more important-egoistic suicide, less effective at regulating individuals as they have rapid social change, undermines accepted norms-anomic suicide
  • Traditional pre-industrial societies - high levels of integration, group more important-altruistic suicide, regulate members, impose ascribed status limiting opportunities-fatalistic suicide
  • statistics used were unreliable and incompleye as knowledge of causes of death were limited and many countries didnt have the ability to collect reliable statistics

Gibbs and Martin

  • Integration is a situation where there are stable and lasting relationships
  • status integration - compatible statuses that dont conflict with another e.g. education and occupation status is similar
  • if there is little status integration, suicide rates will be higher
  • they wish to make law-like, cause and effect generalisations and predictions
  • criticise Durkheim for not operationalising the concept of integration (cant be measured)
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Suicide - Interpretivism


  • interested in the meaning that suicide has for the deceased
  • critises Durkheim for using official statistics as the coroner decides whether it is a suicide - can explain the patterns by if the person has someone to persuade the coroner otherwise
  • suicide verdicts and statistics are the product of interations and negotiations between those involved and factors that influence that
  • meanings of suicide can vary between cultures, so the meanings and motives should be understood in their own social and cultural context
  • we should classify each death by the meaning by using qualitative methodsto produce case studies to find a typology of suicidal meanings
  • no reason to believe sociologists are better at interpreting a dead persons meanings than a coroner, inconsistent - offical stats a product of coroners opinion, can discover the cause of suicide - but how can we if we only have coroners opinions?

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Suicide - Interpretivism (2)


  • ethnomethodology - social reality is simply a construct of its members
  • we can never know the real rate of suicide, as we would have to know the meanings the dead gave to their deaths which is impossible
  • rates are just interpretations, so we can only study how theyre constructed
  • qualitative methods to find how they categorise suicides
  • coroners have a commonsense theory about typical suicide e.g. what kind of person commits suicide, for what reasons, typical mode or place of death
  • if a case fits the commonsense theory - the death is categorised as a suicide
  • evidence that is relevent to the theory: a suicide note, mode of death e.g. hanging, location and circumstances, life history
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Suicide - Realists


  • suicide statistics cant be taken as valid but we can explain suicide by using case studies to find underlying causes and structures
  • those who attempt suicide are not certian if their actions will kill them, in many cases
  • some who attempt suicide are trying to communicate, not kill themselves
  • should look at successful and unsuccessful attempts
  • Someone is most likely to attempt suicide if theyre completely certain or uncertain either about themselves or others. So there are 4 types of suicide:
    • Submissive - certain about themself, they want to die
    • Thanatation - uncertain about themself, chance will decide if they survive their attempt
    • Sacrifice - certain about others, have to kill themself, communication to suffer guilt
    • Appeal - uncertain about others, doubt importance so attempt to resolve uncertainty, communication to change behaviour
  • interpretations so unsure if correct, small sample - unrepresentative, ignores wider social structures - unlike Durkheim, deals with failed and successful attempts, useful to explain observed patterns of suicide e.g. why only some leave notes
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