Crime and Deviance
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Critically analyse factors influencing the recording of crime statistics using at least 2 sociological theories. The following essay will look at the factors influencing the recording of crime statistics whilst giving an overview of sociological theories regarding crime and deviance. A century ago, most people who thought about the issue believed that some people were just biologically criminal (Giddens; 2006). Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso believed that criminal types could be identified by anatomical features. Psychological approaches to criminality have searched for explanations of deviance within the individual, not society. Both biological and psychological approaches to criminality presume that deviance is a sign of something 'wrong' with the individual, rather than with society (Giddens; 2006). Deviance may be defined as non-conformity to a given set of norms that are accepted by a significant number of people in a community or society. No society can be divided up between those who conform and those who deviate from social norms. (Giddens; 2006). Most of us on some occasions transgress generally accepted rules of behaviour. For example at some point in one's life one may have committed minor acts of theft, like shoplifting or taking small items from work such as pens, paper - for personal use, exceeded the national speed limit, made prank phone calls or even smoked marijuana.
A large proportion of car theft is reported but it can be argued that is due largely to the fact the car owner has to report the crime to their insurance company. (www.homeoffice.gov.uk) Often people assume that if a crime seems minor or the damage can be repaired by insurance, they should not bother the police, but, underreporting crime can affect crime statistics. Not reporting a crime gives the impression that it is acceptable to commit crimes such as petty theft as the perpetrator will then believe that there is a high chance he/she will not be prosecuted. Another factor that may influence crime is drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol have an overpowering addicting affect on the user and some people resort to, burglary, theft and forgery to fulfil their addiction. The overall effect of partial reporting of crimes is that the official crime statistics reflect only a portion of overall criminal offences. Surveys such as the BSC are known as victimisation studies while they are valuable indicators, but the data from victimisation studies must also be treated with caution. In certain instances the methodology of the study itself may result in significant under-reporting. This might mean that a victim of domestic violence, for example, would not report violent incidents in the presence of the abuser, or where the abuse has taken place.
The strain theory holds that crime is a conflict between people's goals and means they can use to legally obtain them. Basically the strain theory holds that people in a low socioeconomic class have less opportunity to achieve their goals so they will commit crime to do so. Social process theories contend that crime is a function of individual socialisation (http://online.morainevalley.edu). The interactions that people have within their environment lead them to criminal behaviour (http://online.morainevalley.edu). A person's family members, peer groups, as well as other groups within a community influence their behaviour. Social conflict theories state that crime arises in response to political and economical conditions. An example would be if a person robbed someone, the conflict theories contend that the criminal was 'forced' to do so because of economic conditions brought on by the inequitable distribution of wealth (http://online.morainevalley.edu). The Marxist theory sees crime as the rebellion of the lower class. The Rational theory contends that law-violating behaviour occurs after offenders weigh the rewards with the risks. So if the rewards outweigh the risks, a crime is committed. In summary it can be argued that taking into account all the evidence available that crime statistics are not reliable and to an extent do not provide a realistic overview. Also it can be argued that crime statistic are bias towards the working class and are very gender specific.
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