Gender and Crime
- Do women commit more crime? Some sociologists argue that female offending is underestimated. Typically female crimes are less likely to be reported, and when female's crimes are reported, they are seen to get off less lightly.
- The Chivalry Thesis: The idea that males are more likely to overlook female criminality in an attempt to appear chilvalrous. They dislike accusing women, and thus the CJS is more lenient with them. (Stats support this)
- Female Perpetration of Crime: Generally women tend to commit small-time street crime. e.g. stealing or fare-hopping. Normally as a result of socialisation and need for crime.
- Functionalist sex role Theory: Comes back to socialisation in the nuclear family, where males struggle to learn expressive role. Males are encouraged to play violently and be 'tough', whereas women are ofetn socialised to be more expressive than instrumental.
- Patriarchal Control: Generally, women conform to the idea of being law abiding. men exercise power though financial control, and women who try to work may find it difficult. Different socialising - women tend not to go 'out'.
- Gender and Class: Carlen interviewed a number of female criminals, arguing that most of them were working class. She works on Hirschi's thoery that every crime has a 'deal'.
Gender and Crime -2
- Bias Against Women: Some feminists (Heidenson) argue that the CJS is infact against women. Premature sexual activity is unequally treated, as are actions which may seem to be deviant form the stereotypical heterosexual nuclaer family. If someone was seen as a good mother, they would get off lighter. **** is often blamed on the victims.
- Why do men commit more crime than women? Sex role theory is a major part of it, indicating that they are not socialised to deal with things emotionally, and instead may be expressive through crime. This is particularly noticed where there is the lack of a male role model during childhood. The assertion of masculinity is asnother aspect of the male role in crime. Men are expected to be laddish and enjoy thuggish behaviour, and sometimes crime is proving that they are men. However, this does not explain why men who are assumed to be masculine commit crime.
Age and Crime
Young people have always been the main perpetrators of crime, despite generational myths that it 'was never as bad in [their day]'. Throughout history, 15-18 year old have been the most susceptible to criminality, but different crime and causes depending on context.
- Often the crimes are trivial, and influence by peer pressure (e.g. teen drinking)
- 22% of 10-25 year olds had committed a core offfence (Offending, Crime and Justice report)
Explanation of crime varies from viewpoint to viewpoint.
- Staus Frustration: Cohen (1971) argues that people are caught between childhood and adulthood. The lack of responsiblity can elad to drifters offending. Peer pressure can also lad to offending, in order to gain status within the group.
- Younger, lower-class males are more likely to offend than females beacuase of concerns about masculinity, fatalism, freedom, trouble an street cred which is part of their culture. This is important at their age as they aim to become men.
- Some think less important is what perpetrators stand to gain, and more important is the adrenaline or 'buzz' felt when commiting a crime.
Age and Crime - 2
- Control Theory suggests that when an idividuals peer group is shifted or weakened, the desire for delinquency becomes greater. This is becuase it is a way of gaining status and respect, and for young people this may come at a time when peer groups are weakened (e.g. leaving school). This most affec the working-class according to Cohen and Miller.
- Delinquency, Dift and Techniques of Nuetralisation theory suggests that during the period of staus frustration, young people lack identity. To compensate, they take part in occasional acts of delinquency. However, they justify acts they would usually condemn with the idea that it was special circumstances. This can come in 5 forms:
- Denial of responsibility - Denying that they were in control at the time
- Denial of injury - the idea tha the offence did not cuase that much or any harm
- Denial of victim - the idea that the victim wasn't really harmed anyway
- Condemnation of condemners - claiming authority are wrong/hypocritcal
- Appealing to higher loyalties - committed for a just reason
- This period of frustration normally dissapears after teenage years as individuality grows
- Police stereotype young people as offenders, meaning they are more inclidned to live up to expectation.
Ethnicity and Crime
- It is sometimes difficult to tell whether statistics reflect ethnicity, or the differences in gender, age and class which are apparent in different ethnicities.
- In a 2008 study, the ministry of justice found that Afro-Carribeans were more likely to be arressted, and following this were more likely to be prosecuted and end up in prison.
- Asians were also more likely to be radomly searched for drugs, and were more likely to be found guilty and recieve a custodial sentence for things such as raud and forgery.
- There is a general disprportion in ethinicity in the prison system. While black and minority groups make up only 9% of the general population, they account for 26% (male) and 29% (females) of the prisoners in Britain.
- This dates back to the 1970's, where a higher proportion of crime was attributed to ethnic minorities.
Ethnicity and Crime - 2
Neo Marxist Explanations
- Gilroy (82) suggests that crime by black people was a wave of rebellion against the government, who were seen to harrass ethnic minorities.
- He suggests that the idea that criminality was higher amongst black people is wrong, a myth created by the government to explain the arrests of more people of an ethnic minority.
- However, this does not deal with the idea that crime which ethnic minorities are said to commit, such as mugging or theft, is often committed on other people of ethnic minorities. If they were rebelling against government, it would be aimed exclusively at non-ethnic minorities. However, it cannot be seen as police racism bcuase most crime is reported by the public.
The crisis of hemogony and 'the black mugger'
- In the 1970's, Hall came up with the idea that as political protests etc. happened the conflict between ethnic minorities and the police was fuelled. This promoted the idea of criminality in black people, and created the media stereotype of the 'black mugger', which in turn created a moral panic.
Ethnicity and Crime - 3
- Hall goes on to say that the idea of more aggressive policing, which happened as a result of the moral panic, in fact increased crime because there was a feeling of hostility toward ethnic minorities, provoking them into crime.
- The idea of negative media stereotypes as a cause of crime is not a good one, because while ethnic minorities still exist, he crisis of hegemony does not.
Left realists accept that ethnic minorities may in some cases commit more crime that the white population. However, they think it is important to note these three concepts:
- Marginality - Some ethnic minorities are pushed to the edges of society, which can cause underachievement in education, lack of employment or low pay. This may influence crime.
- Relative Deprivation - The idea of 'lacking' things compared to other groups may lead to crime. It is most likely to be felt by ethnic minorities.
- Subculture - Marginality and relative deprivation can develop into subcultures which provide support for ethnic minorities. This leads to different aspirations, and alternatives ways of achieving goals.
Ethnicity and Crime - 4
Poverty and social exclusion - the search for identity
Bowling and Phillips suggest that some crime stems from a lack of inclusion in society. Ethnic minorities are more likely to feel like outsiders in an mainly white society, and this can lead to crime because of alternative status and frustration in society.
Labelling, stereotyping and racism in the CJS
- Some sociologists suggest that the official statistics which are distributed by agents of justice cannot be trusted.
- This is becuase of a stereotyping in the police force, which means people of ethnic minority are more likely to be randomly searched or suspected of criminal activity.
- In 2000, Reiner pointed to a racist 'canteen culture', steeped in masculinity and racist values which can be found in the police force.
- Suspicion and racism becomes a self fulfilling prophecy amongst people of ethnic minorities.
Ethinicty and Cime - 5
Ethnicity and the pattern of cimre shown in self-report studies
- In 2003, this showed that white people had the highest offending rate,
- Black people were significantly less likely to offend that white respondents
- Robbery was higher amongst black groups thant in any other, but low over all
- Of offences committed in the previous 12 months, white males were more likely to be perpetrators than any other group
Globalisation and different types of crime
In this topic, there are three themes:
- Crimes of the powerful - The idea that nations and large corporations have the power to commit serious offences and cause harm. However, because of the power they have, it may be concealed or defined as otherwise.
- Zemiology - The idea that criminologists should only investigate things which are legally deemed to be crimes, regardless of deviance or harm they cause. It can be the study of why crimes are defined as such and some things are not.
- Crimes without frontiers - The idea that crime has become a lot more accessible on an international scale as a result of things such as the internet.
Globalisation is simply the world getting 'smaller' through interconnectedness. People can communicate ideas and processes more easily in a shorter amount of time and at smaller cost. Held et al (1999) suggests that this has also affected crime, with international crimes being more common. This comes in the form of Arms Trafficking, Trafficking of Nuclear materials, Smuggling of Immigrants, Trafficking of women and children (ususually for prostitution or slavery), Sex Tourism, Body Trafficking, Cyber-crimes, Green Crimes, International Terrorism, Smuggling of legal goods (e.g. alcohol from duty free), Trafficking Cultural artefacts/endangered species, The Drugs Trade and Money Laundering.
Green crime is any crime against the environment and is often linked to globalisation because of the international nature of many power organisations and the world ecology.
Global Risk Society and the Environment This is the idea that most of the issues which occur naturally are as a result of damage humans have done. Increased use of power and technology creates risk that we have not necessarily accounted for, leading to greater risk globally.
Green Criminology If green crime is not yet illegal, and no crime has been committed, is it a suitable place for criminologists? Traditional criminology is concerned with criminal law, which means it clearly states what is a crime and what is not. However, it does not hold major corporations accountable for mistakes. Green criminology starts from where harm can be found instead, This means anything which causes harm to another can be considered of interest, and helps develop a global perspective of crime. This is similar to crimes of the bourgeoisie.
Two types of harm include ethnocentric crime and ecocentric crime. Ethnocentricity focusses on humans rights to use the environment, but ecocentric perspectives see that what harms the planet harms others.
Types of Green Crime
Primary Crimes Crimes which result directly from the destruction of the earth's resources.
- Crimes of air pollution - burning fossil fuels and harmful chemicals, which contributes to adding carbon to the atmosphere. This can result in global warming, but can be a benefit to governments, corporations and consumers.
- Crimes of species decline and animal rights - 50 species a day become extinct, and many of the world's mammals and birds are at risk. This comes from illegal baiting of animals and chemical harm to or destruction of their environment.
- Crimes of water pollution - Marine pollution by corporations and transport companies can lead to infected drinking water, putting developing countries at risk.
Secondary Crimes Crimes which grows out of flouting preventative rules about natural diasters.
- State Violence against oppositional groups - When a government uses force or illegal means to fight an evironmental opposition group, such as greenpeace.
- Hazardous waste and organised crime - The dumping of toxic waste into the environment, where it could damage the ecosystem. This is often globalised, as it will move internationally and seas have blurred nation boundaries.
Globalisation and Crime
As a result of this, there is also a Global Risk Conciousness. People are more aware of crimes, and therefore put in defences to prevent them. For example, the increase of immigration due to globalisation means that border control is a lot tighter. Counter-terrorism is also present at many airports as a result of globalised terrorism.
The media can also be responsible for many of the moral panics created around global crime. It can seems dramatic and gripping, meaning it's a good news story.
Taylor has many theories about the link between globalisation and capitlalism in crime. He says that globalisation impacts the two extremes of society- the wealthiest and the poorest. Manufacturing jobs and low-skill factory jobs are moved to where the cheapest labour can be found, meaning there is limited job stability for many poeple. This is promoted by a materialistic culture. This can lead to crime, through drug gangs, prostituion and alternative ways of getting money. However, this does not explain why all people do not turn to crime in order to get what they want. Patterns of criminal organisation Hobbs and Dunningham suggest that crime changes with economy, and has much do do with an opportunistic network of crime, It is less like hierachal gang culture now. e.g. McMafia where ex-Soviet leaders exploited the free market of good post-communism, becoming the new capitalist class. Purely economic.
Evaluation of Green Crime
The strengths and weaknesses of Green Crime arise from the idea that it is of global environmental concern. It is difficult to decide what constitutes a green crime because of the 'lack of victimisation' and blurred lines of criminology.
Functionalism, Concensus and CRIME
In the Functionalist view, society relies on shared values and beliefs and different groups co-operating. They believe there are positive functions of crime:
- Sets boundaries for people. Condemnation and punishment reinforces the idea of shared values in society.
- Adaptation and change. All changes start with an act of deviance in protest according to Durkheim.
- Crime acts as a Safety Valve. Davies thought it prevented stress and showed when institutions were not working properly.
There is also an inevitability to crime:
- Modern societies would suffer anomie if there was a division of labour.
- People become increasingly different because we are not equally socialised.
- This creates deviance due to a lack of shared values.
Criticisms include; How much crime is acceptable? Who does it function for? Doesn't always represent solidarity.
Status Frustration - COHEN
Cohen (1955) explored similar areas of crime and deviance to Merton.
- However, he believed that Strain Theory only explained utilitarian crime, where there was something to be gained from the perpetrator.
- He also criticised Merton for being too focussed on groups, rather than individuals reasons for crime.
In his own words: "Working class boys face anomie in a middle class society"
- This meant they suffered cultural and skills deprivation. This lead to status deprivation
He also spoke about a 'delinquent subculture',
- Where People 'achieved from deviant behaviour.
- Inverted the mainstream beliefs of hierarchy
- Gain alternative status
Strain Theory - MERTON
Merton (1957) theorised on Strain Theory. This was in relation to the reasons for crime and deviance in society.
- He believed that peoples' acts of deviance were in direct relation to an ideology which was sold to them through the media and such institutions (much like RCI).
- Because of differences in society, not everyone can achieve them through legitimate means.
- There are five responses to this: Conformity, Innovation, Retreatism, Ritualism, Rebellion.
- There are so many values we cannot agree on that there is bound to be deviance.
- Deviance is a result of the unrealistic goals and limitations of society which are in conflict.
- The American Dream is a good example of this, where people work towards a capitalist ideal which is not achievable for everyone.
Subcultures - CLOWARD AND OHLIN
Cloward and Ohlin (1960) also questioned the reasons for crime and deviant subcultures.
- They believe there are 'three working class delinquent subcultures'.
- The criticised Cohen for not allowing for the diversity of working class youth.
The three types of deviant working class subcultures they saw were:
- Conflict subcultures - There are no criminal role models, thus gang culture is often established
- Retreatist Subcultures - Groups retreat from society, and often focus on alcohol or drugs
- Criminal subcultures - They believed that many criminal subcultures were career criminals or people who saw it as a way of social control. Young people learn the value of crime from the people at the top of organised crime gangs. E.g. Mafia or Mob
Who gets labelled depends on their interactions with agents of social control. This can be affected by things such as their appearance, background, biography and certain circumstances.
Cicourel spoke of a negotiation of justice. Arrests can be influenced by stereotypes of the 'typical delinquent', areas of high enforcement and family/parenting.
Becker pointed out that deviance is only such if we say it is. This creates new outlaws.
There are two types of labelling - Primary and Secondary. Primary labels are those which pass and are not adopted by the public, but secondary labels will become the perpetrator's 'master status'.
Negative labels become stigmas through this process: Act - Discovered - Labelled - Stigmatised
Normal behaviour becomes difficult because people expect certain behaviour which people live up to. This can lead to institutionalisation or deviant careers.
Criticisms of labelling
- Marxists would argue that labelling is simply the different ways that society treats the proletariat and bourgeoisie through alienation and polarisation
- Feminist argue that society is too patriarchal
- It does not explain the causes of crime, merely what happens afterward
- What about people who do not accept their label?
Right Realism was developed in the 60's and 70's as a more extreme form of Functionalism. It has the following key concepts:
- Value consensus and shared morality that underpins society. Reflected in law. It shows that criminals are immoral because they breach consensus. Social order is crucial for a life free of fear.
- People are naturally selfish. People are biologically programmed to be self-seeking and take short cuts where they can.
- Community control. Crime control is most effective in areas of strong community bonds. Poor socialisation and a lack of the idea that you may hurt anyone else is what leads to crime.
- Rational choice and opportunity. People are rational and make choices over everything. Criminals chose to be criminals because they believe they have something to gain.
- Crime will always exist. There will always be some people who slip through the net, no matter how controlled society is.
Broken Windows: This is the idea that if there is anti-social behaviour visible in an area, it will influence more criminal behaviour due to role models.
Right Realism - 2
Right Realists believe that a better attitude to crime would be zero-tolerance. This would involve strict socialisation, and 'nipping it the the bud' to prevent more serious crime happening. - Wilson and Kelling.
Right Realism Social Policy:
- Stricter socialisation of young people.
- Stricter community control
- Reducing opportunities for crime
Right Realism Evaulation
- Addresses the cause of crime and provides a solution through prevention
- Recognises minor problems as the beginning of amplification in crime
- Recognises the role of community in causes and prevention of crime
- Unlike Marxism or Functionalism, it does not address crime in terms of wider social context
- The idea of zero-tolerance as a preventative may not go down well in liberal communities and may cause a self-fulfilling prophecy
- The idea of basing control on the ‘broken windows’ concept may simply lead to movement of crime rather than reduction
- Doesn’t take into account utilitarian or white collar crime, as well as ‘hidden crime’ which may go unreported
- Not everyone carries out crime rationally, and many people commit crime out of impulse
Developed in the 1980's in response to Marxism and neo-Marxism. It criticised them for:
- Not taking crime seriously and reducing it to moral panics
- Romanticising working class crime as Robin Hood-esque
- Not taking victimisation seriously
They accept the structural inequalities in society and have observed that the most 'worrisome' crime for society is mugging or street crime. The main victims of this are the working class.
Left Realists aim to have practical solutions to these issues. They want improved democractic policing which protects the main victims, rather than labelling them as the criminals. They also want improved relations with the community. Their explanation of crime is as follows:
- Relative Deprivation - Only deprived when you compare yourself to to others
- Subculture - Working class deviance arises from social inequality. Motivation for crime
- Marginalisation - Politically and economically on the edge leading to underachievement
Left Realism - 2
Understanding and Tackling Crime:
- Social structural factors and formal social control. This influences how crime is defined, law enforcement, style of policing and crime levels
- The public/ informal social control. How do the public react? Do people buy stolen good etc? Are offenders given a master status?
- The role of victims. Why do people become victims? What do they do about it? Gender/Ethnicity/Class.
- The offenders. Who do they choose to offend? Do they feel deprived? Offenders choose to commit crimes.
Feminists believe society is patriarchal, and that the control of women discourages female deviance and generates male crime aginst women (e.g. domestic violence or ****).
- Feminists observe that in 'malestream' sociology, it is mainly men who are studied.
- Therefore there is no explanation for female offending.
- For example, people who attribute crime to the working class reject the idea that women in working class situations do not contribute as much to those figures.
- They also feel female victimisation is ignored.
Heidensohn suggests a number of reasons for this:
- Academica are generally men
- 'Malestream' sociologists had a romanticised view of macho working class men
- There is less evidence to study, making research less credible
Since the 60's/70's, feminist criminologists have researched women's role in crime, recognising that it is even more deviant because they break not just the law but gender stereotypes. Crime can accomplish masculinity. Topics include: female offending, theories, victimisation and the misconception of 'chivalry'.
Postmodernism is all about individuality and the choices that people make as a result of this.
- Crime is a social structure which in itself prevents the expression of particular views. If most people think criminal behaviour isn't bad, it shouldn't be criminal anymore.
- Henry and Milovanovic (1996) consider that crime sould be based on social harm, and embrace diverse lifestyles.
- Causing harm to others is simply a way of showing disrespect for something. Two forms of harm are:
- Harms af reduction - power causes the victim to experience immediate loss or harm.
- Harms of repression - power used to restrict future development. Psychological e.g. hate crimes or sexual harrassment. Upon things not percieved as a problem.
- The cuases of crime centres around the idea that individuals are self foccussed, with little regard or respect for society. Every crime is an individual expression, cannot be conceptualised by society.
- Crime control is leaking into everyday life through preventative measures such as CCTV. Companies know more about us, meaning they have control to some degree. Crimniality is also more localised, to fit in with diversity.
Postmodernism - 2
- Explains modern developemts in surveillance
- Recognizes causes of crime beyond structured society
- Explains localism in policing
- Explains non-utilatarian crime
- Offers fuller picture of crime
- Doesn't explain why some use power to harm others and some don't
- Ignores issues of justice in favour of freedom
- Doesn't recognise less formal arrangements for control are likely to benefit certain groups in society - e.g. intellectuals and articulate people. The poorest in society are left behind.
Marxism falls under the 'radical criminology' spectrum. They are both conflict approaches, where society is made of groups which are in conflict. Here are some general Marxist theories:
- Laws are not a reflection of value consensus, but of RCI
- Laws encourage capitalistism and ownership
- Crime is the natural rebellion of the proletariat
- Official statistics and the dark figure of crime make it so there is one crime for the proletariat and another for the bourgeoisie
- Law means that individuals, no the inequality of society, are blamed for crime
Criticisms of this explanation of crime include
- Over exaggeration of class inequality in crime. Neglect ethnicity and gender as factors.
- Exaggerate property crime, and say little about utilitarian crimes (e.g. hate crimes)
- Fail to develop solutions apart from economic reform
- Forget that the poor generally commit crimes upon other poor people
- Forgets the law has other aspects - such as physical protection etc.
- Positivists are Sociologists who believe that the aim of sociology should be to determine ‘social facts’
- Social facts are things that exist beyond the bound of individuals, and would exists in society whatever
- They can be tested by empirical data, and can be measured in some form
- They act to constrain the behaviour of individuals. This can be anything from the law to education.
- For example, social classes are social facts because they are defined by income or property (which is measurable)
- There is a reality external to individuals, and customs an norms exist to exercise restraint
- Interpretivism emphasizes the differences between natural sciences and social sciences, such as sociology. Interpretevists argue that while nature is simply a reactant to it’s environment, the consciousness of humans means that they actively influence society with their actions.
- It is impossible to predict what human behaviour will do
- The idea of cause-and-effect social facts means that there is a disregard for the individual circumstances of each situation.
- To understand human behaviour, we must understand the meanings behind situations, by letting people express themselves through Weber's concept of Verhesten, and empathising with people’s actions
- They also recognise certain things as social constructs. For example, suicide is only suicide when the coroner says it is, and definitions can alter depending on the situation and people’s own subjective views of the world.
Positivists believe that all human behaviour is in response to social facts and can be explained in terms of cause and effect
Use of empirical quantitative data should be employed to study society. Feelings, opinions and mental states have nothing to be measured against, making them unreliable. We should aim to be as scientific as possible in order to be taken seriously
Research should stem from social causes of events in society. We should observe what happens around us, and look for answers as to why this happens by looking at patterns within official statistics
Sociology should be focussed on social institutions and the social structure as a who
In sociological theory, most things fall into being either a concensus or conflict theory.
- Consensus theory is the belief that all groups in society work together to achieve relative peace and harmony. It is broadly associated with Functionalism and argues that society has shared norms and values.
- Conflict Theory is the idea that groups in society generally do not co-operate and this causes conflcit within society. It has its roots in Marxism and emphasises the difference between individuals. Concerned with social inequality, it also encompasses feminists.
There is also the issue of determinism. This is the debate as to how much control individuals have in society, and include social action/systems theories.
Weber also came up with the idea of class, status and party. He saw conflict between classes over economy, status groups pursuing honour, and political parties trying to influence policy. Individuals would continue to struggle if they continued to conflict.
Feminism views society to be patriarchal, and therefore the interests of women are conflicting to malestream sociology. Liberal, Marxist, Radical and Black feminists are the main groups.
Sociological Theory - 2
Determinism and Choice is the theme of ididvidual control in life. Are individuals affected by outside causes, passive; or do they have control?
- Structuralism - The sociology of system or structure
- Social action - the sociology of action
- Integrated approaches - Combining approaches, including Gidden and Weber's theories
Structuralism is interested by the conventions of society, and the grip they have on individuals. They see individuals as puppets controlled by society. Main points include:
- The socialisation of individuals in relation to control. Education, media and government are all institutions which govern individuals actions and opinions.
- The social institutions which make up the overall structure of society. The relationships between different institutions, focussing on the broader picture rather than the individual.
- It is mainly positivist, using quantifiable data analysis and measurable social forces as a part of study.
- Fuctionalism is consensus structuralism and Marxism is conflict structuralism.
Sociological Theory - Functionalism
Fuctionalism is rooted in the work of Durkheim and was refined by Parsons. It sees society as functional, harmonious and integrated, maintained by shared values and common beliefs.
Society as a system: Functionalists often draw a likeness between society and the human body. Every part has an individual purpose, which can only be effective if working in unison with other aspects. The idea of functional pre-requisites also fits this analogy, suggesting that there are basic things that society needs to survive, much like the human body needs oxygen etc. Also, anything which does not contribute to society or is not functional is eradicated, meaning anything which remains is society is functional by definition.
The GAIL model of pre-requisites - Parsons: Parsons suggests that both instrumental and expressive problems exists and that a healthy state will resolve them. These include Goal atainment, adaptation, Integration and Latency(/pattern maintenance).
Value Consensus and Social Integration: Durkheim argued that without co-operation and consensus in society, their would be Anomie. People must be socialised into a collective conscience, nuetralising the selfishness which we naturally feel. Social solidarity, social cohesion and widespread agreement on social norms binds us together.
Sociological Theory - Functionalism - 2
Social change and social evaluation Functionalists regard social change as being something which comes about out of necessity. A change in one aspect will result in change in other places too. This can be explained in terms of structural differentiation.
- Institutions become more specialised, and actions they once performed are performed by other institutions. For example, social work which was once the role of the family is now done by the government, because it was necassary in order to gain the best scenario
However, in the concept of Manifest and Latent functions, Merton argues that even with social evolution, there is scope for things which are not always functional or good in society.
- For example, nuclear technology is good in that it solves global warming, but not in that it can produce WMD. Society does not always work for everyone, as not everyone can be pleased all the time.
Sociological Theory - Functionalism - Evaluation
- 1. Recognises the importance of social structure and understanding society. Also appreciates that it can be responsible for our individual behaviour.
- 2. Provides an explanation for social stability and why life is generally harmonious.
- Too deterministic, sees individuals as passive
- A 'metanarrative' which tries to spell everything out from one single perspective.
- Does not fully explain social change, as socialisation, value consensus and social control better explain rapid periods of change.
- Over-emphasises the positive aspects of functions performed by institutions.
- Takes for granted the value consensus in society where their isn't always one.
- Over-emphasises harmony and ignores unequal distribution of power
- Quite conservative, condoning the way society is currently organised. Fairly Utopian.
Sociological Theory - Marxism
Marx starts with The idea of the means of production and Economic base supporting the superstructure of society, which includes the institutions of society.
- Private Ownership and Social Class: Marx argues that labour is the beiggest form of wealth, but that it is exploited by the ruling classes, who own the MOP.
- He argues that labourers provide 'extra' than they have to for wges, and this is surplus value which is profit for the bourgeoisie
- Capitalism was the term used for the bourgeoisie (the small, wealthy class) exploiting the proletariat (the large, working class). The proletariat only had working power and labour.
- Class conflict is created by pushing the image of the bourgeoisie and through alienation and polarisation, making it the proletariat's fault that they are not working hard enough to achieve it. Realistically, they can never achieve bourgeoisie ideals, but this results in extra hard work, meaning more profit for the bourgeoisie.
- The bourgeoisie control every part of the proletariats life, from their work to their sociological ideals. The idea of class climbing is a fallacy protrayed by the bourgeoisie media.
- This was just not economics. The ruling group in any society was corrupt and exploitative. For example religion ws the 'opium of the masses'.
Sociological Theory - Marxism - 2
- Revolution was the only way to break the cycle of capitalism. However, the proletariat would never want to rebel because they would lose any hope of achieving the ideals of the bourgeosie. This can be recognised in examples such as Communist Russia, where the serfs were sold a false promise of equality.
Evaluation of Marxism:
- It recognises the importance of the economy in sociology.
- It influences private owenership of the MOP and provides explanations for the extreme wealth we see today.
- Focusses on social structure, and links to ideas of individuals and groups.
- Remains a highly influential idea, despite time differences.
Sociological Theory - Marxism - Evaluation
- Marx's predictions have not come true.
- Classical Marxism exaggerates the idea of conflict in a generally peaceful society (Functionalism).
- Marx does not account for the middle class.
- Doesn't explain discrepancies between age, ethnicity and gender.
- The economic base it too deterministic and emphasises the economy too strongly.
- People are not passive to their labels, and do shift from class to class.
- It is a metanarrative.
- Postmodernists belief individualism is the key, rather than pigeon holing people.
State Crime is defined by Green and Ward as 'illegal or deiant activities perpetrated by or with the complicity of, state agencies'. State crimes DO NOT include crimes which benefit individuals working for the state, such as police officers who accept a bribe.
Eugene McLaughlin identifies the four types of State Crime:
- Political crimes, such as corruption and censorship
- Crimes by security and police forces, such as genocide, torture and dissapearances
- Economic crimes such as insider dealing
- Social and cultural crimes, such as institutional racism.
The Scale of State Crime The power of the state means large scale crime can take place. Cambodia, which has a history of state violence, is believed to have killed up to two million people 1975-8. The power is also well placed to conceal crime. However, countries which have supreme sovriegnty within their own border can make it very hard for the UN to intervene.
The state is the source of law - It is up to each state to define what is law and what is deviant. For this reason, it is difficult to have the same procedure for everyone.
Human Rights and State Crime
Many people believe that Human Rights are the fairest way of determining right from wrong. Human Rights fall into two categories:
- Natural Rights - gained by merely existence. These include the right to free speech and to life and liberty.
- Civil Rights - involving the state. This involves things such as democratic rights and the right to an education.
Crime as the violation of human rights Schwendinger and Schwendinger suggest that crime should be determined in the violation of basic human rights. This means that anti-human rights states may be deemed criminal. This would include racism, sexism, economic exploitation etc.
This helps level the field of hierachy which decides what is a crime and what is not. Sociologists role is to defend human rights, so it is not influenced by state rules and values.
Cohen argues that there is limited agreement on what constitutes human rights. Therefore, some would argue about what is a crime and what is not.
State Crime and the Culture of Denial
Cohen does see Human Rights as an issue and suggests that state crime is increasingly central both to political debate and criminology. This is becuase of:
- Glabalised human rights knowledge and work
- The increased focis within criminology upon victims
The Spiral of denial: Cohen suggests that concealment is particularly prevalent in state crime. He argues that there are three stages:
1. It did not happen. The state denies that any crime took place.
2. If something did happen, it was not a crime. Other excuses are given for events.
3. Even if it did happen, it is justified.
There is also a process of nuetralisation, in order to deny or justify events.
- Denial of victim, Denial of Injury, Denial of Responsibility, Condemning the Comdemners, Appealing to a Higher Loyalty.
Science and Sociology
Some sociologists believe that using the methods of the natural sciences have many advantages when applied to sociology. However, some criticise this based on fundamental differences between the two subjects:
- The problem of predicition. In human beings, there is an element of sponteneous feeling, which could influence the outcome of results. For this reason, it is impossible to predict what humans will do, whereas it is easier to predict what a potato would do.
- Artificiality. By creating artificial laboratory environments, there is not a real assesment of what would happen naturally.
- Ethical issues. Humans may not respond well to the treatment which inanimate subjects are given.
- The Hawthorne Effect. The presence of an experimenter may make humans being tested change the way in which they respond.
- Validity. Unlike uncouncious objects, human have the ability to conceal or expose information at their choosing, meaning validity is put at risk.
- Empirical Data. Popper suggests that all research should be tested against quantifiable research. Some things, such as motives, cannot be tested quantifiably.
The Realist View of Sociology
The Realist view of study is one which thinks certain phenomena cannot be contained into social facts or material objects, but are part of unexplainable things which happen. These things should be established through the discovery. Science, both social and natural, is a journey into exploring the world which we do not yet know.
- To say that sociology is 'sloppy' because of a lack of science is a contradiction in terms.
- Even in natural science, the most advanced technology gets things wrong and cannot be guaranteed to be right.
- For this reason, sociology is just as credible and natural sciences claim to be.
- Not all things in the sociology are quantifiable, and not all things in natural sciences are qualitative.
Social construction of scientific knowledge
Popper was a theorist who was interested in the idea of the falsification of knowledge. He argued that we should aim to disprove all of the things we are aiming to prove. That way, we are not inclined to look for things that will reinforce our expectations, and although we are never really able to prove anything, we can know on good authority that something is very probably true. An example of this is trying to prove that all swans are white. You may count 1000's of white ones, but as soon as you stop looking, a black one would appear.
Kuhn argues scientific paradigms are what limits valid, reliable research. Becuase scientists make observations based on the assumptions made in the scientific community, what is classed as an 'anomoly' is often seen to be a mistake, rather than something which may disprove a theory. Kuhn argues that paradigm shifts occur when a number of anomolies occur, resulting in scientific revolution.
Researching Crime and Deviance
The different types of crime which are important for research each present different problems for sociologists.
- Researching Domestic Violence can be difficult becuase of the private nature of many assaults. The lack of witnesses can make reports very difficult to validate. Dobash and Dobash reported 32,000 assaults where only 517 were reported. However, the sample was from a woman's refuge, perhaps skewing the representativeness. The distressing nature of it may instill fear in some, meaning a greater need for confidentiality.
- Researching Violent Crimes can be difficult becuase of the spontenaity of the act. Domestic violence may take place in private, making it impossible to observe. Researchers may not be welcome in places of high crime.
- Researching Corporate Crime White collar crime goes largely undetected because it is invisible and very often has no direct victim, It is therefore likely to unreported, and will only be highlighted in the media if it can be linked to other events. The perpetrators are also likely to be powerful, making them a risk to investigate.
- Reseaching young people means having to make allowances for the language, literacy and cognitive skills of that age. People may find it hard to gain access, particularly as authority figures may be seen as 'police officers in disguise'.
Researching Crime and Deviance
- Researching Victims of Crime In criminology, identifying a victim can be difficult. People can forget crimes have happened, or may be trying to suppress emotion about certain events. An unwillingness to be a witness could also occur through fear.
- Researching Criminal Justice Studying the police can be difficult becuase of the confidential nature of their work, unwillingness to break rank and the idea that researchers would be critical of their work. They are also used to professional presentation of their job, so would be able to defend it. The courts can be an aspects of law which is very tedious, and decisions are often made behind closed doors about the law.
- Reseaching Prisons Prisons are amongst the most closed off places which it is possible to research in. There is danger of attack, and the prison staff may feel research detracts from the principle of confinement for prisoners.
- Researching Societal Reaction This can mean anythign from the mass media to a victim's response. News creation is difficult to investigate or control. It can be hard to track the origins of a story, know how much deviance is fact or fiction, and have consistent interpretation
The Media and Crime
Crime makes up a large proportion of what is covered in the news and media. Ericson found that 71% of press and radio was crime-related. But is it a true reflection of crime?
The Distorted Image of Crime is the concept of crime as something which is not necassarily what is on the news. 46% of media reports are on violent or sexual crime when it makes up 3% of overall crime. This is skewed representation. Extraordinary crime with unusual perpetrators of victims is also exaggerated. Crime is also reported as random, when in fact there is a pattern to crime.
The Social Construction of Crime is the way in which the media present crime. Choosing which event will be broadcast, in what order and from what 'angle' all contributes to the social construction of news. Cohen and Young said: "News is not discovered, it is manufactured".
News Values News rarely come direct from a source and is most of the time fabricated. Personalisation is the value which journalists give the actions of individuals and the facts surrounding the events. Events become the actions of individuals, rather than outside forces, meaning there is more of blame game.
The Media and Crime - 2
Gatekeeping is the rejection or keeping of stories by those in control of the editting process. It influences other coverage, and will often have a political stance. E.g. Guardian left, Telegraph right.
Moral Panics Moral panics are intese ill-feeling toward a particular part of society due to the media demonising certain things. E.g. Jimmy Saville and paedophilia, dangerous dogs, gypsys. The Mods and Rockers were a good example of how the media created panic, by exaggeration of the level of violence, predicition of more violence and symbolisation attatched to certain individuals.
Social Class and Crime
At some point, everybody commits crime - be it speeding or spitting. However, some people are stereotyped as committing more crime, e.g. Chavs and the working classes.
Information from HMSO fills us in on self report studies, victim reports, the British Crime Survey. How crime is measured affects our perception of the crime which is committed. This is called the social distribution of crime.
All crime is socially constructed, meaning it is different to different individuals. Crime and victim studies are flawed for obvious reasons, mainly becuase of social desirability or the sensitive issue of crime. Crime is never constructed without the law and power. Becasue they are created by the government, they may be biased.
The majority of offenders come from working class backgrounds. There is correlations between the type of cirme committed and class. Upper class crime also tends to be white collar crime, as these people have access to the resources necassary.
The connection between class and crime could be put down to stereotyping and a lack of power. However, it does not mean that Working Class Crime is bigger, it is jsut more detactable. Policing is more reactive in certain WC areas. The middle classes are underestimated.
Locality and Crime
Locality and crime has to do with the geographical state of crime, victims and law enforcement. Officers tend to be concentrated in certain areas. Offences have patterns, it is not random.
The Chicago School (1947) of thought argued that in cities, there were sub-villages that each had their own identity (e.g. Chelsea is posh, Hackney is poor). They divided Chicago into 5 concentric circles, and looked at levels of male delinquency. Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay observed that away from the centre, delinquency declined. Certain zones had 'transition', including immigrant, low income families and single parents who were all 'socially disorganised'. A lack of social control, community spirit, role models and more opportunity for crime led to increased criminality.
The Suburbs were a place which Shaw and McKay observed as being in accord with common sense. They had a more favourable image and low crime.
A Croydon study suggested that in fact the middle classes were socially disorganised, with a lack of cummunity spirit etc. It blamed the council for the segregation of criminals and areas where it was more likely.
Locality and Crime - Other theories
Strain Theory due to a lack of cohesion in groups and people becoming insercure about identity. They then look for alternative status.
Functionalist sex role theory in areas where lone parent families are more common, people may lack an expressive or instrumental role model, which could lead to a life of deviance.
Postmodernists would argue that this is an incredibly outdated theory, as individuality is encouraged in every community.
Status frustration could occur in areas where people feel society is working against them (e.g. council houses in islington)
Less value consensus/moral policing in areas which have isolated groups.
Broken Windows Theory Left and Right Realists would argue that seeing crime in certain areas encourages further crime through deviancy amplification and altenrative status.
Victimology refers to the study of victims of crime. Recently, this has become a bigger part of the sociological research of crime. The Criminal Justice System is entirely in the interest of victims and potential victims, so is it an interesting part of crime and deviance.
Gender and victimisation There is a general pattern in BCS that women are more scared of crime than men, and that there is certain aspects of crime which women are more likely to be the victims of, and vice versa.
- Domestic violence sees on average one in four women and one in six men suffer at the hands of their partner. Men were likely to recieve less serious assualts. However, even with 150 people being killed each year and many injured, an estimated 2/3rds of victims do not report becuase of fear, or embarassments. In the past, it has not been treated seriously, with the courts seeing it as a personal family matter.
- In ****, 92% of victims are women, but according to **** Crisis Line, only 1 in 3 vicitims report the ****. ****s also have low conviction rates, meaning it may deter people from reporting the crime. **** is largely committed by people known to victims, meaning the steretypical rapists in the shadows is false.
- Feminists writers see these crimes ad 'intimate crimes' which are sensitive in a patriarchal society, meaning it can be difficult to report.
Victimisation - 2
Age and Victimsation Young people are more likely to be the perpetrators of violent crime, and more likely to be the victims of it. 27% 10-15 year olds reported being victims of personal crime e.g. mugging.
Ethnicity and Victimisation With the exception of hate crimes, those from ethnic minorities did not appear to see many differences in crime which could not be attributed to age, class etc. However, there was a higher fear of crime. Homicide had 2x the risk in ethnic minorities, indicating they were racially motivated.
Social Class and Victimisation The poorest communities appear to have the highest rates of victimisation, The 'hard pressed', areas of physical disorder and areas with levels of high deprivation are all at risk according to the BCS.
Explaining Victimisation These finding suggest that some groups are more likely to be victims. This is generally explained through two approaches: Positivist Victimology: Tierney (96) argues there is some characteristics or circumstances which make people more likely victims. E.g. women dress provocatively = ****. Criticised for victim blaming. Radical Victimology: The CJS produces victimisation means the weakest in society are always victims.
Crime Control, Prevention and Punishment
The CJS consists of agencies which enforce law. This includes the Crown Prosecution Service, prisons and the probation service. The government controls and oversees them. There is also the Youth Justice board which oversees Youth criminal justice.They identify, control and punish known offenders.
Does imprisonment prevent crime? Although prison is seen as the ultimate control and punishment mechanism, it often doesn't work well in crime prevention. in 2003, it was estimated that although there was a 22% increase in imprisonment since 1997, it only influenced 5% of offending in a period of 30% overall reduction (Downing Street Stategy Unit).
Relist Theories argue that strong deterrents and law enforcement is the best way to deal with crime. The consider themselves 'real' becuase of the way that they deal with the issues which affect peoples lives immendiately.