The social construction of crime

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Rather than taking the definition of crime for granted...
...labelling theorists are interested in how and why certain acts come to be defined in the way they do.
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They argue that no act is...
...inherently criminal/deviant in itself (in all situations/times)
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How does an act come to be seen as deviant?
When it is labelled in this way.
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Therefore, it is not the nature of the act that makes it deviant, but...
...the nature of society's reaction to the act.
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Deviance is in the eye of the...
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Quote Becker in how deviance is created:
"Social groups create deviance by creating the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance."
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For Becker, a deviant is someone....
...whom the label of deviant is successfully applied to.
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Labelling theorists are interested in how and why...
...rules and laws are made.
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They are particularly interested in the role of what Becker calls...
...'Moral entrepreneurs.'
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What are moral entrepreneurs?
Those who lead a moral crusade to change the law in the belief that it will benefit those who it is applied.
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What 2 effects does Becker argue that a new law has?
1. The creation of a new group of outsiders (Deviants) 2.The expansion of a social control agency to enforce rules and impose labels on offenders.
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Who argued that the idea of 'juvenile delinquency' was a result of a moral crusade of upper-class Victorian moral entrepreneurs?
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How did this new law affect the people who it governed?
It protected young people who were at risk.
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According to Becker, excluding the public, who also campaigns for a change in the law?
Social control agencies.
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Why do social control agencies often campaign for changes in law?
To increase their own power.
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Name an example of this:
The US bureau of Narcotics succesfully campaigned for passing the marijuana tax act in 1937 to outlaw marijuana use. Supposedly, this was due to the fact that it was harmful to young people but actually to extend the Bureau's sphere of influence (B).
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Not everyone who commits a crime is...
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What 3 factors does whether a person is arrested/charged/convicted depend on?
1. Their interactions with agencies of social control 2. Their appearance/background/personal biography 3.The situation and circumstances of the offence.
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What did Pilliavan and Briar argue?
They found that police decisions to arrest a youth were mainly based on physical cues from which they made judgements about the youth's character.
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Officers' decisions were also influenced by the suspect's
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As well as...
...time and place.
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For example:
Those stopped late at night in high crime areas ran a greater risk of arrest.
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Who argued that officers' typifications (commonsense theories/stereotypes) of what the typical deliquent is like led them to concentrate on certain types?
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As a result, what happened in working class areas?
Law enforcement showed a class bias as people in those areas were more likely to fit the deliquent typifications.
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What did this lead law enforcement to do?
Patrol working class areas more intensively which resulted in more arrests.
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The more that working class people were arrested, the more the police's stereotypes were...
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Do police alone reinforce a class bias?
No, other agents of social control do as well.
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How do probation officers often do this?
By holding the commonsense theory that juvenile delinquency is caused by broken homes/poverty/poor parenting.
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How does this commonsense theory affect those on probation?
As Probation officers will see youths from a working class background on probation as most likely to reoffend, they will be less likely to support non custodial sentences for them.
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In Circourel's view, justice is not fixed but...
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For example:
When a middle class youth is arrested, he is less likely to be charged.
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Why is a middle class youth less likely to be charged due to police's typifications?
His background does not fit the typification of a deliquent due to the fact that he is middle class.
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Why is the middle class youth less likely to be charged due to the negotiation of justice?
Middle class parents are more likely to be educated in how the criminal justice system works and be more able to articulate a successful defense on his behalf.
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What does Circourel argue about official crime statistics?
They do not give a valid picture of crime patterns.
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Therefore, they cannot be used as...
...a resource.
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People should treat official statistics as...
...a topic for sociologists to investigate.
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We should especially investigate...
...the processes that create them.
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By shedding light on the processes that create offical statistics, we will shed light on...
... the social control agencies that make them.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


They argue that no act is...


...inherently criminal/deviant in itself (in all situations/times)

Card 3


How does an act come to be seen as deviant?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Therefore, it is not the nature of the act that makes it deviant, but...


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Deviance is in the eye of the...


Preview of the front of card 5
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