Crime and Deviance- Revision Notes/Key Sociologists (Whole Topic)

Crime and Deviance 

Theories of Crime 


  • Durkheim: Positive functions of crime; safety valve, social change, social cohesion, creates jobs and reaffirms boundaries 
  • Merton: Strain Theory, strain between goals and the means to achieve them; conformity- accepting/achieving, innovation- illegal means for financial gain, ritualism- reduction of goals, retreatism- give up and rebellion- turning to serious crime 
  • Cohen: Status Frustration, commit crimes in order to gain status instead of financial gain
  • Cloward and Ohlin: Illegitimate Career Structure, turning to illegitimate means before trying legitimate means, formation of subcultures; criminal- local crime/form gangs, conflict- no local crime so work for status and retreatist- cannot join crime, retreat to drugs/alcohol  


  • Bonger: Criminogenic Capitalism, capitalism causes crime; ruling class shape laws to benefit themselves
  • Snider: White Collar Crime, crimes committed by corporations do more harm than street crime but are not prosecuted (diffusion of responsibility) 
  • Taylor, Walton and Young: New Criminology, influence of labelling in the creation of crime; need to look at capitalist society as a whole not just the individual 


  • Becker: Moral Entrepreneurs/Master Status, someone has to enforce/draw attention to a rule/action for it to be deviant (Malinowski’s study) deviant labels lead a person to a self-fulfilling prophecy where all other qualities become unimportant 
  • Lemert: Primary/Secondary Deviance, consequence of being labelled as deviant can cause more criminal behaviour 
  • Cicourel: Negotiation Process, Distinguish between delinquents and non-deliquents, how well you can negotiate your way out of a situation 

Right Realism

  • Wilson: Benefits outweigh risks of a crime, individuals make a rational choice 
  • Wilson and Kelling: Broken Windows, deterioration of an area alongside use of informal social control 
  • Cohen and Felson: 3 Conditions of Crime; individuals motivated to offend, availability of opportunity/targets and lack of capable guardians (lack of discipline)
  • Murray: The Underclass, increase in crime is proportional to increase in single parent families and benefits 

Left Realism 

  • Lea and Young: Islington Crime Survey; victims of crime likely to be working class males on a low income, crime has increased due


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