Sociology - Crime & Deviance

  • Created by: zopetre_
  • Created on: 08-02-17 15:51

Topic One

Definitions: Crime is an act which goes against the written rules, laws, and requires formal punishment. Deviance is an act which goes against the unwritten rules of society, the norms, values and mores, it results in an inform punishment.

Social control can take two forms, formal social control is when laws are broken so people are punished according to a clear legal set of guidelines. Informal social control is when unwritten rules, norms, values and mores are broken, so the individual is punished by experiencing hostility, rejecting and possibly bullying. Social control can be done in three ways, coercion (forced through fear of punishment), legitimisation (trained to believe through socialisation) and internalisation (part of a persons identity).

Sanctions are social responses to behaviour. Formal rules, formal rewards and punishments, e.g. promotion at work. Informal rules, informal rewards and punishments, e.g. invited to parties.

Durkheim claimed the universal beliefs and values of a society were known as the collective conscience, the law represented collective beliefs. 

Hirschi developed the control theory from Durkheim's thinking. He argues that people are rational, if they believe they have more to lose than gain from crime, they'll conform to the social norms. There's four social bonds, if one is broken/weak someone may feel they have more to gain than lose:

  • Attachment to others 
  • Commitment to conformity
  • Involvement in conventional activities
  • A belief in the morality and validity of social rules
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Topic Two

Feminists accuse fictional accounts of crime in the media, of painting an inaccurate and glamorised view of crime, mostly against women. The media use the fear of crime in order to sell stories, or demonise certain groups so people develop views of crime which aren't realistic.

Many newspapers dedicate a large amount of their column space to crime. Williams and Dickinson (1993) estimated 30% of news coverage was crime. Reiner sees deviance as being the heart of the news as it contains many elements that journalists say makes a newsworthy story.

Criminals are displayed as cunning and clever, leading exciting lives within the media, however the reality is boring. A number of articles suggested that fallacies about crime consist of: police efficiency fallacy (cop usually gets his man, reality > most crime goes unsolved), dramatic fallacy (crime stories focus on murder and **** > they're rare crimes), ingenuity fallacies (criminals plan their actions and are clever > most crime is opportunistic).

Many news channels/news papers choose which stories to report based on what editors see as interesting/newsworthy. Galtung and Ruge looked at news values, identified a number of characteristics such as dramatic content, negative context and suddenness. Reporters often look for a spin on stories to make them more interesting. 

The media are often to blame for criminal behaviours as they're claimed to socialise young people, causing them to behave in a criminal fashion. Stan Cohen argued that they over-react events, as presented by his research into the Mods and Rockers in 1960. He described the process as deviancy amplification which occurs by:

  • The media over-reporting criminal activities, creating a moral panic.
  • The criminals become folk devils.
  • People, e.g. the police, are morla guardians and over-respond to what is seen as a threat.
  • The interest in the case causes more people to at in a criminal/deviant manner.
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Topic Three

Official statistics are kept by the police and other agencies which deal with crime. The data is available on several websites/printed materials. It includes crime recording rates, conviction rates, age and gender and the punishment. It's useful as it allows us to see patterns of who is convicted, offers trends as the data has been recorded since the 1850s, and is a cheap/very easily available source of secondary data. Great deal of crime we know little/nothing about - dark figure of crime.

Crime is collected to see the performance of a social agency. This is to set targets and measure outcomes. Not all crime is reported to the police. Home Office suggest 15% of sexual violence isn't reported to the police. Victims of racial abuse believe the police will do nothing. There's a serious problem with the representativeness of official statistics. Informal actions don't appear in data. In 2014, it was found that one in five of all crimes aren't recorded by the police. They claimed it's due to pressure of workload and lack of management. 

Victim surveys are used to find out what crimes people have experienced as victims. Offer insight into unreported and unrecorded crime. The Crime Survery for England and Wales is a victim survey. It isn't affected by police recording habits/tarkets, it can be used for polity making, isn't affected by issues of reporting crime to the police, demographic element. People who are homesless/live in insitutions aren't surveyed. 

Self-report studies are where people report their own criminal activities, The Offending, Crime and Justive Survey (OCJS) is an example. It ran from 2003 to 2006. Advantages are: official court data is biased/unrepresentative, we learn about offenders who are uncaught, learn about criminal careers, evaluate effectiveness of policy/prevention programmes. Disadvantages are: respondents may lie, those who offend aren't likely to complete a survey, sample frames are small, unwilling to admit to serious crime.

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Topic Four

There's little information on the social background of those convicted within official statistics. 

Rosenbaum (2006) identified criminal and problem communities as those consisting of: people in poverty, poor housing/social environment, low-income and benefit-dependent families, poor schools, drug abuse and limited community control. Working class are more likely to experience convictions and are well represented in data. American studies for the 50s and 60s found the middle classes had a lower chance of arrest and conviction in comparison to poor people. Self-report studies shows only 13% of delinquents were from low social classes. 

The Social Exclusion Unit reported in 2002 that prisoners were far more likely than the general population to have: been in the care system, traunted/excluded from school, experienced long-term unemployment, come from benefit-dependent households, have mental health problems. Some of these link with social class.

The middle class have access to different forms of criminal activity, such as white collar crime, offences linked to the indiviudals job. It's less likely to be recorded because victims may be unaware, complex nature of taxation laws, crimes are unlikely to appear in official statistics. The middle classes committing crime is a way of getting back at the system. 

The British Crime Survey found that poorer households were most likely to be burgled, it's more popular in poorer areas. Poor and unemployed twice as likely to be victims of violent crime. 

Marxists see crime as a function of class, it's a way for the working class to resist capitalism and redistribute money to the poor. Functionalists see crime as linked to the poor socialisation of the working class. Interactionists claim that the poor are more likely to be labelled.

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Topic Five

Women are under-represented in the criminal justice system, they're less likely to be imprisoned than men. The prison population is 95% male. In 2013, 25% of court proceedings involved woman defendents. Home Office Data shows that men are more likely to be convicted than women. Men tended to recieve longer sentences.  Men may experience their masculinity through criminal behaviour - aggressive masculinity.  Women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, may be due to the 'crisis of masculinity' and males dominating.

Women are more likely to have one mitigating factor that the sentencing authorities need to take into account. 79% of females, as opposed to 58% of males, said that the sentence shoud be viewed in terms of the offender: showing genuine remorse, being young, having caring duties, acting out of character, mental illness, experiencing job loss, being in education and having issues with addiction. 

Men are more likely to be on benefits than women, women offenders are more likely to be benefit-dependent than men. Women are more likely to self-harm in prison in comparison to men. 

The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed men were more likely to be victims of personal crime, a lot of violence was targeted towards young men. However, female victims were more likely to be targeted at any age. Men were victimised by strangers and friends whereas women were more likely to be victimised by a partner/ex-partner. Women were seven times more likely to report sexual assault than males. 30% of murder victims were female, stabbing is the main cause of death amongst both dangers. 

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Topic Six

The white ethnic group was 87% of the UK population at the time of the last Census in 2011. London is the most ethnically diverse place whereas Wales is the least ethnically diverse. Black and ethnic-minority people are over-represented in the CJS. Police are more likely to stop and search a member of BME groups. Black people were 6/7 times more likely to be stopped than white people, while Asians were twice as likely to be stopped. Black people are only 3.1% of the population but 9% of those in court were black. 

Black offenders were 44% more likely to be imprisoned for driving offences and 38% more likely to be imprisoned for public disorder/possession of a weapon. 

The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that adults from self-identified, mixed, Black and Asian groups were more likely to be at risk of personal crime than white ethnic groups. Non-white minorities experience higher rates of conviction and harsher punishments than whites. Victimisation rates are higher for BME groups, may be linked to hate crime.

Police now record a motivating factor of crime, such as race, religion, sexuality, disability and gender identity. Police data shows that 82% of hate crime was on the basis of race and 6% on the basis of religion.

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Topic Seven

Age and date of birth is widely used on official statistics. It is legally significant because children under the age of 10, cannot be convicted of a crime. They're below the age of legal responsibility. Until you are 18, you are treated differently compared to adults, being dealt with by youth courts with different forms of punishment. Youth offending is often referred to as delinquency.

In the ONS data for 2011/2012, people aged 10-17 accounted for 13% of all arrests but make up 10% of the population. They are over-represented in the criminal justice data. There are alternatives to arrests: ASBOs, reprimands, a penalty notice and triage schemes. There's been a steady fall in youth sentencing, resulting in fewer repeated offences.  

Owen and Cooper found that the most first offences carried out by young people were theft and robbery, 21% were violence and only 10% were viewed as a serious crime. Those who had committed robbery or burglary were likely to become chronic repeat offenders. 

67% of offences were dealt by with fines, and 12% resulted in community sentencing. 12% of adults sentenced to prison will have a sentence of over three years and 57% of adults go to prison for short sentences of under six months. Wales has a reoffending rate of 27%. 

The CSEW found that younger people are more likely to be victims of crime than older people. Poorer people are likely to be victimised by burglary. Young people are likely to eperience '******' thetft when out of the home. 8.4% of people aged 16-24 reported experiencing victimisation from violent crime.

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Topic Eight

The government have many roles: identify crimes and make laws to prevent and control them, prevent crime at a community level through various programmes/schemes, detect/deal with criminals through a system, punish criminals, support victims.

Many crime convictions are of young people; this is a problem as many go on to become career criminals, they spend their lives in and out of the criminal justice system

Retributive justice focuses on punishing the criminal, while restorative justice is based on the idea that the victims must help the agencies address crime. It brings together criminals and victims, so criminals can understand the impact of their actions.

Drug related crime costs society £14bn a year, so the NHS put pressure on the government to spend more on recovery programmes. 

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Topic Nine

Functionalists see society as a collective conscience, they ignore indiviudal motivations and focus on the social structures and processes leading to deviance. Functionalists argue that crime brings people together so they can reinforce ideas of what is wrong/right, and provides people with work and purose.

Durkheim viewed crime as inevitable and a necessary part of society. He argued that crime performs positive functions within society, he argues that it strengthens social bonds as people unite when crime occurs, reinforcing their committment to the norms and values. He also argues that responses to crime can initiate social change, therefore, crime is creative and good for society. All changes in society originally start as deviance. For example, protests occur in order to support deviance. 

There are many criticisms of Durkheims views. He fails to explain how much deviance is required for society to function, and fails to distinguish between the different types of crime. Durkheim also doesn't consider the affect crime has on victims, and how this is functional for society.

Cohen argues that deviance is a warning light that something within society isn't working. 

Merton (strain theory) argued that criminal behaviour results from the organisation and culture in which we live in. He identified the values of Western society as 'the American Dream' (successful, wealthy, competitive). Not everyone has the same chance to achieve this due to factors such as poverty. People look for other ways to achieve this: conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism and rebellion. He argues that deviance is a result of the strain from society.

There are many criticisms of Merton, he overlooks criminal subcultures and only focuses on indiviudals. His analysis is monocultural, assuming everyone shares the same values. 

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Topic Ten

Marxists see society as divided into the capiatlist ruling class and working class. Capitalist economic base determines the other structures of society. They believe capitalism causes crime by greed and selfishness, people will do anything to accumulate wealth and power, people are encouraged to prioritise their own needs over the whole of society, capitalism is competitive. 

Marxists argue that capitalsm operates to control the working classes and benefit the wealthy. Capitalism is crimogenic, it causes crime, Capitalism is based on explotiing the working class. The working class commit crime due to status frustration. Capitalism encourages crime amongst the ruling class due to the desire for profit via white collar crimes. The laws reflect the wishes/needs of the ruling class.  Crime rates are higher for the WC, however, the ruling class are less likely to be prosecuted for corporate crimes. Laws put in place to benefit the WC act as a false consciousness. e.g. health and safety. 

Bonger argued that the wealthy and powerful are able to define crime as anything that threatens their interests.  Chambliss argues that the ruling class are able to define what is/isn't morally/socially acceptable, and that laws are made on the basis of capitalist economy.

There are many criticisms of marxism. It's seen as dated and deterministic by postmodernists. They also ignore the fact that some laws appear to be part of a general agreement. They don't explain social conformity. They also argue that the laws benefit the RC, however, some don't, such as traffic control.

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Topic Eleven

Neo-marxism combines marxism with other theories, such as labelling. They accept that theres an unequal distribution of power and that capitalism is a cause of crime. Taylor, Walton and Young argued that deviants are part of society as a whole and theres's a failure to understand the nature/origin of power in capitalism. They argue that people actively choose to commit crime as a response to their own situation. They argue that criminals are actively fighting back against injustice and inequality. 

Hall and Gillroy claim ethnic minoriites are stereotyped or labelled as more criminal than the white population. 

Hall studied street crime amongst black youths in London in the 1970s. He suggested mugging was a moral panic, the government and media were promiting racism and demonising black youths to distract attention from political problems. Black youths were protesting against racism and capitalism and also being labelled as criminals.

Gillroy suggested official statistics of black crime don't reflect what's actually happening. He argued that the media and police were operating on stereotypes. 

Neo-marxism calls for social change but doesn't explain how it can be achieved. Neo-marxist viewpoint is naive and very romantic. Some of the writers of 'The New Criminology' changed their viewpoints over time. The theory overlooks the nature of middle-class crime. 

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Topic Twelve

The interactionist theory is often known as the labelling theory. It looks at how people are controlled by a fear of being stigmatised, having a label. They reject the ideas that criminals were mad/bad and pointed out the circumstances in which they take place that makes them criminal. There are many social factors affecting whether an act is deviant or not: the place, social situation, culture, history and who commits the action.

Goffman argues that social labels affect how we see people and how we treat them. A stigma/label is applied to that person. People distance themselves from stigmatised people, resulting in actions such as hate crime. Those with a social stigma have to develop strategies to cope. 

Lemert created two forms of deviance. Primary deviance is when the action doesn't have a label, and is just an action/experience. Secondary deviance is when the action is publically labelled as deviant, and the person takes on the role of being deviant.

Howard Becker said 'Deviance is in the eye of the beholder' This means that what is classed as criminal and deviant is based on subjective decisions, such as by the agencies of social control and how society reacts to deviance.

Once an indiviudal is labelled as deviant, they will have a self-fulfilling prophecy and behave in a certain way in order to live up to their label. The media contribute to this by demonising certain people, creating moral panics which created folk devils. This is deviancy amplification. This idea was further develped by Cohen.

Interactionists recognize that the process of becoming criminal is interactive. They reject quantitative research. They have evidence from education that labelling causes more deviance. A criticsm is that they focus too much on the label, what about the victim? They don't explain the origins of the first criminal act. 

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