Sociology - Crime and Deviance

  • Created by: Lucy
  • Created on: 27-05-17 22:00

functionalists, Strain and Subculture theories

For functionalists society is based on value consensus which deviance threatens, but it also performs positive functions such as reinforcing solidarity and adapting to change. 

Strain theories argue that deviance occurs when people cannont achieve society's goals by legitimate means. Merton argues that this produces a 'strain to anomie' that may result in innovation, ritualism, retreatism and rebellion. 

Subcultural theories see much deviance as a collective rather than individual responses. A.K Cohen argues that subcultural deviance results from status frusation and takes a non-utilitarian form. Cloward and Ohlin see the different deviant subcultures (criminal, conflict and retratists) arising from differerent in access to illegitmate opportunity structures. 

Recent Strain Theories argue that capitalist economics generate greater strain to crime. 

1 of 7

Interactionism and Labelling thoery

For labelling theory, an act only becomes deviant when labelled as such through societal reaction. Not every offender is labelled and labelling theory is interested in the how the laws are selectively enforced against some groups. This means offical statistics are invalid: the only tell us about the types of people the control agencies have labelled, not the real patterns of crime.

Labelling may cause the label to become the individuals master status. A deviance amplification spiral may result in which increased control leads to increased deviance. Interactionists have appiled labelling theory to the study of suicide and mental illness. 

Labelling theory has implications for criminal justice policing suggesting we should avoid labelling individuals unnecessary. Labelling theory is criticised for determinism and faling to explain primary deviance and the origin of labels. 

2 of 7

Class, Power and Crime

Marxists see crime as inevitable in capitalist society because it breeds poverty, competition and greed. All classes commit crime, but because the ruling class control the state they make and enforce laws in ther own interests, criminalising the working class while escaping punishment for their own corporate crimes. 

This law also performs an ideological function by giving capitalism a caring face. Marxism is criticised for ignoring non-class ineqalities that affect crime and for determinism (over predicts working class crime)

Neo-Marxists or critical criminology see crime as a conscious meaningful choice often with political motive a rebellion against capitalism. Critcal criminology combines elements of Marxism and labelling theory in a 'fully social theory' of deviance. It has been criticised by Left realists for ignoring the real harm crime does to working-class people. 

White collar crime and corpoarte crime are commited by high status individuals and business. They are widespread and cause great harm yet remain largely invisible and are not considered 'real' crime. Differential association, Strain Theory, Labelling Theory and Marxism have offered explainations of these crimes.

3 of 7

Realist Theories of crime

Relaist see crime as a real problem, especially for the poor. Right realists see conservatives. They see the cause of crime as partly biological and partly social. They see it as a rational choice based on caluculting the risk and rewards, because causes cannont easily be changed they focus on deterring offenders. 

Left realists are reformist socialists. They identify relative deprivation, subculture and marginalised as cause of crime. Relative deprivation and exclusion are increasing in late modern society. Their solution lies in accountable policing and reducing inequality. 

4 of 7

Gender Crime and Justice

Offical statists show males commt more crimes that females, but hte chivarlry thesis argues that they underestimate feamle offending because the criminal justive system treats women more lenienty. However this may be because of their offences are less serious. Feminists argue that the system is biased against women.especially when they deviate from gender norms. 

In explaining gender differences in offending. Sex role theory focuses on socialisation. Feminists theories emphasise patriarchal control that reduces female opportunity to offend. Carlen argues that when the reward system for female conforminity fails, females are likely to offend. 

The liberation thesis argues that as women become more liberated they adpot 'males' patterns of offending. Female criminalisation rates for violence have risen due to net widening and moral panic

Messerschmidt argues that crime is a resource some subordinated men use to accomplish masculinity. Winlow argues that globalisation and de-industrialisation mean that some men now achieve masculinity through participation in a combination of paid work and crime in the night-time economy

5 of 7

Ethnicity, Crime and Justice

offical statistics show balcks and other ethnic minorites are more likely to be stopped, arrested and imprisoned. This may be because they are more likely to offend ot becase of racism in the criminal justice system or because they are more likely to fall into the demographic groups who are stopped.Self report studies show lower offending rates among minorities than among whites. Black defendants are more likely to be acquitted but if convicted are more likely to be jailed. 

Left relaists argue that blacks do have a higher crime rate because of their greater relative deprivation and social exlusion, whereas Neo-Marxists argue that blacks criminality is a social construction serving to distract attenation from the crisis of capitlaism 

Miniorites are more likely to be victims of crime while being other over-policed and under proteced.

6 of 7

crime and the media

The media give a distored viewof 

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Crime and deviance resources »