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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.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 4
  1. Outline and evaluate the view that crime and deviance are socially constructed

    (Scott & Marshall, 2009) History has shown us that incidents which were once considered deviant or criminal are now not and have developed over time to conform with today?s principles within society. A clear example of this would-be homosexuality. Homosexuality was a criminal act until eventually, the act was decriminalised and the law changed in 1967 for two men to be in a relationship together without the fear of being arrested. Previous to this law males who engaged in any sexual activity with other males could face a prison sentence (BBC, 2017).

    • Word count: 1886
  2. Evaluate functionalist theories of crime and deviance

    The individual side emerges when social bonds are weak, resulting in the person committing an act of deviance or crime. Durkheim also came up with the term anomie, a sense of normlessness within society. This is when there is a disagreement on the norms and values. He also argued that crime is inevitable, and it would happen within society regardless. Durkheim also argued that crime was on one hand necessary and functional for society, but then went on to say that is was also harmful and dysfunctional.

    • Word count: 1000
  3. Evaluate the strengths and limitations of using self-completion written questionnaires to investigate unauthorised absences from school.

    This method of research can be distributed easily and inexpensively to a large number of pupils in a short space of time. However, response rates are often very low, especially when dealing with sensitive topics. Children who are bullied are less likely to attend school, this leads to them missing important lessons and inevitably underachieving in their academic subjects. Furthermore, if the sociologist is investigating unauthorized absences, they must acquire a way of distributing the questionnaires.

    • Word count: 480

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Assess the usefulness of consensus theories for an understanding of crime and deviance in contemporary society.

    "Also a lot of the research carried out on this topic was carried out in the early 19th century therefore research into this topic was very androcentric. As a result it ignores the fact that women also commit crimes which in contemporary society is higher than it was when Merton and Cohen were carrying out their research. Feminists would argue this point along with the point that they ignore the crimes commited by males such as domestic violence, such as sexual abuse, however, Davis' argument that the legalisation of prostitution could hinder domestic violence within the family. In conclusion, although consensus theories are outdated some of the points argued could help develop a more in depth understanding of crime and deviance within contemporary society."

  • Assess the view that ethnic differences in crime rates are the result of the ways in which the criminal justice system operates.

    "As we have seen, official statistics on the criminal justice process show differences between ethnic group. The question is therefore how we explain these patterns. There are two main explanations for ethnic differences in the statistics; Left realisms and the Neo-Marxism. The left realists see the statistics represent real differences in rates of offending. Whereas the Neo-Marxists see the statistics are a social construct resulting from racist labelling and discrimination in the criminal rates of offending. From a left realist perspective, the justice system does not necessarily act on the differences of ethnic minorities but demonstrates a true representation of the rates in offending. On the other hand from a Neo-Marxists view the statistics is just a myth of the social construct and they see that is what the justice system acts on. To an extent, the left realist perspective seems to be valid as it is inane to believe that the ethnic minority community could be the fault of most crimes simply as a result of their race. However, it is also conceivable that their race, religion and ethnicity has a significant contribution ."

  • 'The world today is as furiously religious as ever it was and in some cases more so' to what extent is this statement supported.

    "The statement 'the world today is as furiously religious as ever it was and in some places more so', could be perceived as being true in that some cultures and continents still have religion and religious beliefs high on their agenda, but it could be argued that in European cultures especially, there is a decline in religious values and beliefs, statistics back up both sides at the argument, so it could just fall down to personal beliefs and opinion about the subject matter in hand."

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