The sociology of crime and deviance Understand key concepts in the study of crime and deviance

The sociology of crime and deviance
Understand key concepts in the study of crime and deviance.

1.1 Analyse key sociological concepts in the study of crime and deviance
A crime is an illegal demonstration that is punishable by law (Nelken, 2006). Examples of these are burglary, fraud and shoplifting. Therefore, a crime is legally defined (Helfgott, 2008). Historical and culturally diverse proof implies that what is classed as criminal can change after some time and shift between cultures (Helfgott, 2008). A good example of this, is recreational drugs, such as cocaine were not illegal in the late nineteenth century but holds a hefty punishment for possession now (Anon, 2018). The law isn’t always fair but is continually changing and evolving. Laws change with differences in social norms and values. Being gay was seen as wrong and thought to have been a mental illness (Brent and Lewis, 2013). However, people’s attitudes change in society throughout generations, but it takes a while for the law to catch up. ”Deviance is behaviour that is recognised as violated expected rules and norms” (Andersen and Taylor, 2008). Some crimes can be both deviant and criminal. All societies execute social control, the direction and implementation of norms. Social control can be characterized comprehensively as an organised plan proposed to change individuals’ behaviour (Evans, 2013). The fundamental objective of social control is to keep up social order, a game plan of practices and behaviours on which society’s individuals base their day by day lives (Evans, 2013).

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1.2 Discuss the objectivity of official crime statistics
A set of statistics produced from information accumulated by the government, the police, the courts or other authority associations (Brym and Lie, 2010). Official statistics can be utilised to compare different sorts of crime and how figures change in various years (Brym and Lie, 2010). Often utilised as secondary data in social research. If a crime is watched and recognized as a crime, the police might be notified (Brym and Lie, 2010). Be that as it may, if the crime has not been recognized it can’t be disclosed to the police and therefore can’t be incorporated into official statistics. Numerous crimes happen but they go unrecorded (, 2018). There are many reasons as to why not all victims choose to report their crimes (, 2018). Examples of this are; the victim may be too scared of the consequence, they could be embarrassed, they may be being black mailed, the victim suffered no loss or even that they are a criminal themselves and trying to keep a low profile (, 2018). You also have crimes that are dealt with by a penalty rather than a prosecution, benefit fraud being one (, 2018). A British crime survey is a tool used annually, to measure the number of crime within England and Wales, this is done by asking members of the public about their personal experiences with crime (, 2018). It fails to include thefts from shops, or fraud along with victimless crimes. Self-report surveys are used to encourage the general public to admit to crimes they have committed but were not caught (, 2018). With all surveys there is a risk that people may lie, however the bonus is it may well expose the hidden figure of crime. Regardless of victim surveys being unnamed it appears that individuals still want to under-report sexual offenses. A risk you have is also the victim’s memory may be biased if they hold a grudge for example, so the crime may be deceptive (, 2018).

Understand different explanations for the social distribution of crime.

2.1 Analyse current data on the social distribution of crime with reference to at least two social factors and 2.2 evaluate different explanations for these statistics
Studies that captured rising poverty in the 1980s and early 1990s, found that violent and property crime were connected with complete and relative deprivation and economic inequality (Kawachi et al, 1999; Kennedy et al, 1998;  Messner, 1989). Social class is always difficult to define and is measured by wealth, education, living area and family background. There is a distinct correlation between the type of crime and social and class.In Canada, Walter et al (2003) found that crime rates are higher and residents are more likely to be victims of  crime in public housing estates than in middle or upper class areas crimes involving violence such as theft from a property are usually committed by the working class (Chapman, 2004). The middle class tend to commit fraud and money laundering, whereas the majority of upper class crimes involve environmental crimes (Chapman, 2004). Marxist view on crime and deviance is that defects within social order are to blame. The say labour exploitation results in working class crime. Suggesting theft is an example of exploitation, which is a political act of the working class against the capitalist class (the wealthy) (Chapman, 2004). The ruling class proceed to break laws with exemption of punishment, whereas the subject classes will be punished. In capitalism societies crime will continue as a result of supporting inequality, class conflict and corrective law will extend in inequality and exploitation (Chapman, 2004). Chambliss argues acts that are characterised as criminal only when it’s in the interest of the ruling class (Chapman, 2004). Marxists have been criticized for believing that a Communist system could be the resolution to eliminate crime. Box argues definition of crime does not reflect behaviours that potentially cause us the majority of harm and injury. Marxist argue that white collar crimes are abandoned by society as they are both probable to be done by the capitalist class or its agents (Chapman, 2004).

Ethnicity – Interactionist theory
The interactionist theory doesn’t presume lawbreakers are dissimilar from those who are law biding citizens. They propose the majority of people perpetrate deviance and criminal acts, however only a small minority are captured and labelled as disgraceful (Walklate, 2009). They suggest the priority ought to be put on understanding the response and meaning of deviance as opposed to the reasons for the initial act (Walklate, 2009). Howard Becker approach to the labelling theory was, “Deviancy is not a quality of the act a person commits but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’ (Walklate, 2009). Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label. (Becker, 2014). Becker’s opinion was the moment a label was allocated to an individual it might then largely define and shape a person’s position within society as deviant, resulting in a deviant career to follow (, 2018).

The British crime survey statistics inform us that, in 2013/2014 it was acknowledged that increased numbers of stop and searches were carried out on black ethnicities (Minister of justice, 2018), four and half times more than the white ethnicity. Mixed ethnicity being twice as likely and Asian ethnicity one and a half times more likely for stop and searches (Minister of justice, 2018). As a consequence, more black and mixed group arrests took place than any other ethnicity group (Minister of justice, 2018). In comparison to other ethnicity group, the black and mixed ethnic groups arrest rates per 1,000 individuals were nearly three and two times higher (Minister of justice, 2018). This would also explain why rates of prosecution and sentencing relating to the black ethnic group were three times higher compared to the white group (Minister of justice, 2018). It is disputed that the above results are biased, police officers are presuming the black ethnicity are more possible to offend than other groups and therefore reinforcing the labels (Minister of justice, 2018). The interactionist approach perceives that crime and deviance is socially established by agencies of social control. The media is a forceful agency of social control which add to the perception of crime (Carrabine, Iganski, Lee, 2004). The labelling theory is hard to prove as we don’t know how deviant the individual was before there label (Carrabine, Iganski, Lee, 2004). Some acts will constantly be refereed to as deviant whether they are labelled or not such as murder. A criticism of the labelling theory is they are seen be ignoring the origin of the deviance (Carrabine, Iganski, Lee, 2004).

Understand sociological explanations for deviant subcultures
3.1 Analyse at least two explanations for deviant subcultures.

The Structural-functional theories emphasis is on the role of culture,along the lines of Durkheim’s collective conscience, in providing rules for living. When cultural norms are relatively clear-cut and consistent with the structure of statuses and roles in the society, deviance rates will be low. There is less concern with accounting for whether an individual will or will not become deviant than with rates Merton of deviance among collectivises, one of them being the Anomie Theory.

The strain theory was developed by Merton who tried to work within the functionalist understanding and therefore explored anomie. He concluded that when, for whatever reason, a person can’t achieve their ‘goals’ through socially approved means then they will try other ways to do so which can lead to crime. He identified a number of different behaviors relating to Conformity, whereby people conform to both the means and goals of society. Innovation where a person accepts the goals of society but uses different means to get the goals this means the criminal part. Ritualism is where the means used by the individual, but the goal is lost. Rebellion, where both social means and goals are rejected. The criticism of this theory is Valier suggests that society does not have common goals and that there are in fact a range of goals that people aim for at any one time.

Subcultural theories build upon the work of Merton. They say that deviance is the result of individuals conforming to the values and norms of a social group to which they belong, if you belong to a social group whose norms differ from those of the main society then you will become a deviant.

Cohen said lower-working-class boys want to achieve the success which is valued by mainstream culture. But due to educational failure and the dead-end jobs that result from this they have little chance of achieving these goals. This results in status frustration; the boys are at the bottom of the social structure and have little chance of gaining a higher status in society. This is similar to Merton’s theory, however Cohen said that instead of turning to crime as Merton said, they reject the norms and values of mainstream society and instead turn to the norms and values of a delinquent subculture. In this subculture the boys can achieve success because the social group has different norms and values from the rest of society. Within this culture a high value is placed upon criminal acts such as stealing and vandalism which are condemned by mainstream society.

In these subcultures the individual who lacked respect in mainstream society can gain it by committing crimes such as vandalism and truancy. As these crimes reward the individual with respect there is not always the need for a monetary value to commit a crime, so the subcultural perspective explains why people commit non-utilitarian crimes.

Cloward and Ohlin developed Cohen’s theory. They said that there are three different types of subcultures that young people might enter; criminal subcultures, conflict subcultures and retreatist subcultures.

Criminal subcultures emerge in areas where alot of organised adult crime, there are criminal role models for young people, and they learn how to commit criminal acts. In these subcultures the young people can climb up the professional criminal ladder by committing more crimes. These subcultures are normally concerned with utilitarian crimes, which yield financial reward.

Conflict subcultures tend to emerge in areas where there is little organised adult crime, so instead of learning how to commit serious monetary crimes the young people instead focus on gaining respect through gang violence.

Retreatist subcultures are for young people who have even failed in the criminal subcultures, these people are ‘double failures’. They tend to retreat to drugs and alcohol abuse to deal with the fact that they have been rejected from other subcultures.

Word count 1993
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Andersen and Taylor, (2008). Sociology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, p.166.

Becker, (2014). Outsiders. Place of publication not identified: Free Press, p.9. (2018). Deviance, Crime, and Social Control. online Available at: Accessed 30 Jan. 2018.

Brym and Lie (2010). Sociology. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, p.29.

Brent and Lewis (2013). Learn sociology. p.388.

Carrabine, Iganski, Lee (2004). Criminology: A Sociological Introduction. Psychology Press, pp.70-75,91.

Chapman (2004). Sociology. London: Letts Educational, p.136.

Evans (2013). How and why people change. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.254.

Kawachi, I., Kennedy,B,P.,  and Wilkinson,R,G (1999) Crime: social disorganization and  relative deprivation, Social Science & Medicine 48(6):719?31. 
Minister of justice (2018). Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2014. online Available at: Accessed 30 Jan. 2018.

Nelken, (2006). Contrasting criminal justice. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate/Dartmouth, pp.54,69. (2018). MEASURE OF CRIME. HOW IS CRIME MEASURED? UCR and NCVS.. online Available at: Accessed 30 Jan. 2018. (2018). Sociology crime and deviance. online Available at: Accessed 30 Jan. 2018.

Walklate (2009). Understanding criminology. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press, pp.27-28.

Walter, S,D., Shahid, A., Schwartz, M,D., and Tomaszewski, A,E (2003) Under Siege: Poverty  and Crime in a Public Housing Community, Lexington Books: Maryland


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