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AS and A Level: Crime & Deviance
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Top five crime and deviance theoretical viewpoints
- 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 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 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 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 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.
Deviance is the breaking of a social code. Social codes exist because of the shared agreement in society general about what is right and wrong. Society as a whole sees crime and deviance as wrong and punishable. However, Functionalist sociologist, Durkheim, claims that a certain, limited amount of crime is necessary in society for it to exist. He says that a certain amount of crime means that when the offenders get punished it raises awareness about crime to the rest of the society.
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Assess the usefulness of subcultural theories for an understanding of crime and deviance in society today
It is society?s reaction to the act that makes it deviant, not the nature of the act. Thus a person is labelled by their deviant act and this label becomes their master status. This is where all the other features of a person are ignored apart from the deviant act, which shapes how everyone treats them. For example the label ?drug addict? dominates all other positions and becomes their master status. This can lead to self fulfilling prophecy because they might accept the label that has been given to them, because of their deviant behaviour, and therefore see themselves as a criminal.
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Carol Smart sites four reasons for evidence of womens criminality being ignored. Firstly she points out that women commit less crime so are therefore are not seen as a threat to society. She argues that crimes commonly committed by women are not seen as threatening as male crimes, therefore are largely seen as less important. The most important point in her argument that shows malestream bias is that she highlights the fact that men studying male criminality, perform the research so miss out women as a variable altogether.
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The second idea in the interactionist approach is that a person?s experience may lead to a deviant career i.e. there is a social process that takes certain people down a path that leads to rejection by society. Interactionist theorists argue that in society there are always different groups who are competing to have their particular values or interests elevated to the position whereby they are passed into law. These values may or may not reflect the views of the bulk of the population. The most important thing is that the group, who are promoting their own values, are successful in doing so and thereby have their values made into the law.
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Their behavior is sometimes unacceptable as they may be carrying a gun or knife as their mystic weapon. Weapons such as weapons with steel blades of various lengths designed to pierce or cut and also it's not just a knife, it's a 15" extension of a bad attitude. There is a high volume of crime and members that take place outstanding to their relationships. The situation that they are in is as bad as a warzone. Moreover, some people may have been very assertive gangs.
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Mirrlees-Black conducted a study and found that most victims are women and that nearly 1 in 4 women has been assaulted by a partner at some time in her life, and 1 in 8 repeatedly so. This theory is backed up by Russel and Rebecca Dobash?s study of police and court records. They found that this type of violence is often caused by the man seeing a challenge to his authority, and that marriage encourages this as the traditional roles of man and wife still stand, if not as strong, in today?s society.
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and according to Donald Cressey it is ?any crime committed by a person occupying, in an established division of labor?..includes at least one position for a corrupter, one position for a corruptee, and one position for an enforcer.? (Abadinsky 2) and even the Federal organized Crime Control Act of 1970 attempts to define what is organized crime is.
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