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AS and A Level: Crime & Deviance

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Top five crime and deviance theoretical viewpoints

  1. 1 Functionalism – small amounts of crime are inevitable and in fact crime has some functions for society (Durkheim); higher amounts of crime and deviance may be the result of anomie (Durkheim) or strain (Merton).
  2. 2 Marxism – the working class DO NOT necessarily commit more crime than the ruling class; corporate crime and white collar crime are underrepresented in crime figures (Croall); the crimes the working class carry out can be justified as part of a political struggle against capitalism (Box).
  3. 3 Left Realism – crime in working class areas should be considered carefully as the working class are over represented as victims; crime occurs if people suffer relative deprivation, marginalization (social, political and economic) and live in areas with deviant subcultures (Lea and Young).
  4. 4 Right Realism – People carry out crimes when the benefits outweigh the costs (Clarke); Single parent families often produce criminal or deviant offspring (Murray); zero tolerance policing would improve crime rates (Wilson).
  5. 5 Feminism – women are often excluded and ignored in discussions about crime (Heidensohn); women are often victims of crime and that issue needs consideration (Smart); women are increasingly committing crime.

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  1. "Deviance is normal" - In what sense is this true?

    Deviance however is often concealed and feared off. Thus takes on the secret form and people who appear to be living normal life's and conforming to the norms of the society can in private be deviant for instance child abusers who can appear to outside world to be following societies rules are in private carrying out deviant acts. Deviance is not primarily concerned with an "individuals" behavior, but in addition can be concerned with different group's activities. For instance the Taliban a religious group who's beliefs, values, and way of life is extremely different from the west they are perceived as not conforming to social worldwide set of norms and values.

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  2. Do Subcultural theories offer convincing explanations for group offending by young men and women today? Are there any other theoretical perspectives which you may consider to be useful and relevant?

    In areas of high economic status, ie. the middle class, there is consistency and uniformity of attitudes and morals, whereas in low economic status areas there is an absence of common values with competing attitudes and standards prevalent instead. Shaw and Mckay state that in the latter situation "delinquency has developed as a powerful competing way of life"3. There are, therefore, "rival" values, conventional and non-conventional, and gang and juvenile delinquency is a symptom of this conflict. Another theory to emerge from Chicago is Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey s differential association theory.

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  3. The Evolution of Punishment.

    'In a very large number of ancient societies death pure and simple is not the supreme punishment'4. Several forms of punishment were established and used in the ancient societies to determine the characteristic. The main command of punishment was distinguished between regular death sentences. Punishment in ancient societies, the characteristics were divided into 'seven categories: impalement on a pointed stake, being burned to death, being crushed to death under elephant's feet, judicial drowning, having boiling oil poured into one's ears and mouth, being torn apart by dogs in public, being cut in to pieces with razors'5.

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  4. Criminology - "Corporate and white-collar crimes are less serious than other kinds of crime, such as violent crime"- Discuss.

    White collar crimes include such offences as commercial bribery, tax fraud, environmental offences, and computer related crimes. Corporate crimes are "a subset of white-collar crime"2 and usually occur with the intent of benefiting a corporation. Because these forms of crime sometimes involve large sums of money, and affect a large number of people, their seriousness should not be underestimated. While I am not suggesting that other forms of crime are not serious, it is evident that corporate and white-collar crimes have more serious long term consequences than other forms of crime, such as violent crime. When discussing violent crime, I am referring to any act of violence against a person, apart from murder.

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  5. Describe Law and Order in the late Nineteenth century.

    They were established at Bow Street and were quite successful - they even launched the Bow Street horse patrol. The Thames Valley Police were formed a little later, in 1798 and patrolled the areas up and down the River Thames. In 1829, Sir Robert Peel, the acting Home Secretary founded the Metropolitan Police Force in London. This group of law enforcers still exist today as Britain's top police force. But it wasn't the establishment of an efficient police force that was Peel's greatest contribution to law enforcement - it was his philosophy. His 9 rules on policing are timeless and universal and could be used as a foundation for any police department today as they did back in the nineteenth century.

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  6. Discuss the effectiveness of the Prison system, and its purpose in relation to its history.

    An example of a category B prison is Blakenhurst prison in Redditch. Category C prisons hold the same category prisoners, these are prisoners who cannot be trusted in open conditions but are assessed as being unlikely to escape, an example of a category C prison is Ashwell in Leicester. Category D prisons are otherwise known as open prisons, where offenders are free to 'wander' around the grounds and can go out to work, this category holds prisoners who can be reasonably trusted in open conditions. Hewell Grange prison in the West Midlands is an example of a category D prison.

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  7. Critically Compare and Contrast Functionalist and Traditional Marxist Perspectives On Crime.

    The Functionalist view on crime and society is likening it to the human body to explain it functions. The body has it organs whereas society has it institutions. Functionalists have an interest in the functions of crime, hence the name and are interested in how crime contributes to society as a whole. There is a belief that society is based on consensus or agreement of shared beliefs and values of what is considered to be 'the norm', the views hare then passed on through socialisation. Share values and beliefs originate from the family and re-enforced through education, the media and the judiciary system.

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  8. Explain and analyse the Reasons for Punishment.

    An example of this includes community service, whereby those who have committed an offence such as vandalism or graffiti clean graffiti off walls and maintain public parks. Vengeance is a more extreme extension of this theory, but is instead based on private retribution taken out against the offender by the human victim, as a 'personal payback' for the suffering caused. Whereas retribution is based on fair, proportional and logical justice, vengeance is based on an emotional reaction, and may far exceed the suffering initially caused by the offence.

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  9. Referring to the John Duffy "Railway Rapist" case to illustrate, discuss the strengths and limitations of offender profiling.

    Holmes (1989) suggests that profiling is most useful when the crime reflects psychopathology, such as sadistic assaults. 90% of profiling is for murder or rape, but can be used for arson, burglary, and robbery. Homant and Kennedy (1998) see crime-scene profiling as including psychological profiling of offenders, geographical profiling (the area of the crime and where the offender may live) and, in the case of murder, 'equivocal death analysis' (how the murder was committed, and a 'psychological autopsy of the victim). The overall aim is to look for patterns and to compare them to what is known about certain crimes and criminals.

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  10. Examine the differences between Muslims living in the UK and Muslims living in Saudi Arabia.

    This system being known as the shariah. The Saudi Government law includes different punishment levels and standards to that of the UK. Some of these punishments might be considered harsh by British standards nevertheless they are carried out according to the severity of the crime. They give different punishments for different crimes, for example if someone is caught stealing, then they are sentenced to have their hands chopped off. As you can see, this type of judgement might seem extreme and is totally different from the type of sentencing you might get in the UK.

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  11. Critically evaluate Marxists contributions to the study of crime and deviance.

    Marx's approaches have been through 3 main stages: * Traditional * Neo-Marxist and new criminology * New left realism. Traditional Marxists contend that capitalism is itself a crime and it causes crime. It is based on oppression and economic exploitation of the majority and creates a competitive 'dog eat dog' world in which greed, violence and corruption flourish, which are the only means of survival for some. According to Marx crime is a manifestation of an unjust social order. The primary purpose of the 'repressive state apparatus (police, courts)

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  12. Crime is rapidly increasing in this day and age, however, thanks to the increasing technology we can now detect and prevent crime, using forensic techniques, which I shall detail in this essay.

    Gas chromatography will tell how much alcohol is in blood or urine. This is more accurate than any other method, and can be used successfully in the court of law. An important role of a forensic scientist in the event of arson is to establish the origins of the fire. However, more volatile components will be lost to a degree, and so the scientist's jobs are made harder. The most useful materials to be submitted for analysis are materials, which have been relatively protected from the intense heat and/or are of porous nature near the suspected point of origin.

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  13. Which of the following problems do you consider to have been the most serious facing American Society in the 1920s. a) Organised crime b) Racial and religious intolerance c) The growing division between the rich and the poor

    The Protestants, having great power and influence in America introduced Prohibition of Alcohol. They thought Prohibition would create a perfect America, where everyone is successful and happy, when in truth Prohibition made America much worse and began the dangerous side of life in the 1920s. The rebellious attitude that America gained after the war, meant they were not afraid of law and wanted to take risks. The people wanted alcohol and the only way to get it was via Bootleggers (criminals who import alcohol illegally) and crime. People began to take more risks, joining street gangs and enjoying the rough side of life.

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  14. Critically compare the three main theories of deviance and assess their strengths & weaknesses

    Durkheim's views have been developed by A. Cohen (1966) who discussed two possible functions of deviance: 1. Deviance can be a 'safety valve', providing a relatively harmless expression of discontent. For example, prostitution enables men to escape from family life without undermining family stability. 2. Deviant acts can warn society that an aspect is not working properly, for example widespread truanting from school. Merton (1938) explains how deviance can result from the culture and structure of society. He begins from the functionalist position of value consensus - that is, all members of society share similar values.

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  15. What Christians believe about justice and forgiveness

    Fundamental Christians support the death penalty and agree with the Old Testament teaching "An eye for an eye"- the taking away of human life can only be fitted with the taking away of the life of the criminal. However Christians who uphold an emphasis on the New Testament teachings believe in reformation and deterrence- "do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap you on the left cheek too" (Matthew 5: 39-40).

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  16. Realist approaches are unlike any other approach. They don't concentrate on the causes or crime and why people commit crime, instead they emphasise solving crime, which requires practical solutions

    Where a community is strong this loss will be important to people and they will try and avoid it. The problem is that in the absence of a community, people no longer gain by conforming to the community's values. These areas are characterised by anomie Evidence to support this is provided by Wilson's 'broken window' thesis. Here, Wilson argues that if a single window broken by vandals goes unmended and if incivilities on the streets go unchallenged, then problems will quickly grow.

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  17. Is Youth Crime a major Problem?

    were male. For both males and females the people that offended the most were young adults aged between 16-24. 674 out of 10,000 males aged between 16-24 were found guilty or cautioned for an indictable offence, while only 131 per 10,000, women in the same age group were found guilty or cautioned for a crime. Examining these statistics it seems clear that youth crime is an enormous problem. There is also a very large amount of crime that is not reported and no one is found guilty for some offences. Some of the most commonly committed crimes: Theft and Handling Stolen Goods - This is the most common criminal offence.

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  18. Crime and Deviance

    In addition to sociological approaches there have been significant contributions from physiology and psychology. I.e. some argue that there is a biological basis for deviance and others argue it is due to personality and brain structure. E.g. are ppl born to be homosexual or heterosexual? E.g. are ppl biologically programmed in sexuality or is it socialized. Some are researching in to finding gay gene; some say it cannot be true because in prisons gay relationships do happen. E.g. female criminality and hormones, aggressiveness is often related to hormone imbalances, more aggressive on period. Sociological perspective on deviance Functionalist perspective Functionalists believe that deviance, including crime is a necessary part of all society.

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  19. Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Different Aims of Punishment

    This suggests punishment is irrelevant as no one can be held responsible for his or her actions. Clarence Darrow, a US attorney who was also a determinist argued just that point. In 1924 two youths kidnapped and murdered a 14 year old boy, Darrow pleaded for mercy on the grounds that it was the boys' environment that was the cause of their crime. Darrow was successful in his argument; the boys were saved from death. Darrow was not suggesting that the criminals shouldn't be punished as one aim of punishment is to protect society, but he questioned the common assumption that criminals are morally responsible for what they do.

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  20. ‘Right wing theorists claim that criminals choose to commit crime.’Critically discuss with reference to the crime control strategies that have been advocated by the New Right

    "The radical right, libertarianism, supply-side economics, the taxpayers' revolt, monetarism, Thatcherism, Reagan-omics, the new right - these are some of the labels given to the body of argument offered in recent years as a challenge to the post-war consensus." (David Green, 1988:1). The New Right stands for a political view that tries to minimise state intervention in ordinary lives. It holds the belief that society is primarily to blame for any problems for the individual. In terms of crime, the New Right advocates the Rational Choice Theory, saying that criminals weigh up the benefits in relation to the costs of their actions and decide whether to commit the offence.

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  21. ‘Discuss the use of alternative strategies of crime prevention and reduction.To illustrate your answer use examples from specific types of crime and offending behaviour.’

    Reiner (2000b:56), backs up this argument, saying it romanticises the police's work and the life they lead. This is a somewhat rose-tinted view, as in reality, crime detection rates are very low and police do much more than just fight crime. In fact, some authors have suggested that they ought to be considered a social service (Waddington, 1999:15). 'First, law enforcement is neither what the police do nor what the public ask the police to do; and secondly the police are not very effective crime-fighters' Waddington, 1999:5.

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  22. In what ways did the nature and causes of crime change between 1450-2002, and why?

    The civil war during the 1600's also made people feel insecure about their land and their safety, so they would've most likely supported any new ideas for keeping criminals in line. Highwaymen. Robberies in large towns and cities had always been a problem, but it became more common during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries because of the increase in travelling. (This was down to the improvement in roads, and the falling prices in horse costs.) Highwaymen robberies made up 5% of serious crimes in the sixteenth century.

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  23. Crime in the National Press

    Charts and Diagrams - Which were used to show what results and Why? 4. How closely did our findings follow the pattern of official police statistics and the British Crime Survey (BCS) also explanation of anomalies 5. The role of dimensions of meaning within this assignment 6. Conclusions Introduction The Daily Mail is one of the more respectable tabloid newspapers. It is fairly 'middle of the road' in the nature of its articles. The paper is generally aimed at middle-class professionals.

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  24. How has John Braithwaite contributed to debates on crime, and what are the policy implications of his work?

    This links to the notion of incapacitation. In theory this disables criminals from committing crime (at least for the duration of their sentence.) Deterrence and incapacitation would be ineffective however if there was not a programme of rehabilitation in place to provide training and support for existing offenders. According to utilitarians this is to be achieved primarily through education. There are elements of utilitarian theory throughout the criminal justice system in this country, most notably with reference to rehabilitation. The probation service, social workers, drug and alcohol programmes are all examples of agencies the state uses to try and reform people who are referred to it.

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