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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. The continuing problem of knife crime and the gangsta lifestyle on the streets of London has moved beyond epidemic status and become a full-blown disease.

    It is too easy to lay blame with the music industry and hip hop culture as a whole. Where the blame lies specifically is a grey area, and differentiates between each individual circumstance. Laying blame with any one factor is naive, but growing up in South London gives one an idea of what is to blame and how best to tackle the disastrous situation. Growing up on and living within a council estate has proven to be somewhat of a mixed blessing for myself. I am unfortunately greeted with all the wonders of the "ghetto" each time I leave my doorstep, but I am also able to see where things have gone wrong, and what changes can be implemented.

    • Word count: 828
  2. Punishment and Prisons. This essay shall describe the changes in the methods of punishment throughout the last few hundred years, how imprisonment came in to practice and why society has become more civilised in how criminals are dealt with.

    It has been recognised since 1913 that some individuals commit crime as a result of psychiatric problems, rather than a lack of morality, (Class Notes). In order to be sent to a mental institution instead of a prison, an offender would have to argue, (or rather their legal representative would argue) 'diminished responsibility'; the individual would still admit that they broke the law, but maintain that they should not be held 'criminally liable' for doing so, as their mental functions were "diminished" or impaired at the time the offence was committed, (Wikipedia).

    • Word count: 1645
  3. Crime in Japan v. Crime in North Dakota. North Dakota and Japan keep crime rates down differently. Japan keeps crime down by preventing, peer pressure and harsh jails.

    On the other hand Japan have both small towns and large cities. In Japan crimes are not tolerated therefore if one is committed, your family and friends will not talk to you or attempt to see you. The communities in Japan and North Dakota do not tolerate crime and look down upon it. The peer pressure of the communities against people prevent crime because no one wants to be alienated by their friends and family. The second similarity of Japan and North Dakota is honor. In Japan if you commit a crime, people not only look down upon you, they look down upon your family for raising you badly.

    • Word count: 866
  4. Why do people bully? The expert on bullying, Professor Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen in Norway estimates that at any given time, 15% of students are involved in bullying.

    Some of the main reason people bully are peer pressure, mental behavior, and also family issues. In to that, bullying is also caused by peer pressure. Nowadays, bullies are popular and are liked by the majority of their peers around. Therefore, bullies do not want to be disliked. In fact, bullies with high popularity have the pressure to keep up that image of themselves (About). Furthermore, according to Craig and Pepler's study, peer-pressure to strive for social acceptance can lead to bullying.

    • Word count: 753
  5. Examine the role of access to opportunity structures in causing crime and deviance (12 marks)

    This means they face a sense of strain and anomie (normlessness), as the dominant rules about how to achieve success don't meet their needs, and therefore deviance results from unequal access to legitimate opportunities (such as education and careers which can be seen as opportunity structures). Merton argues that there are different 'modes of adaptation', or responses to situations, that range from conformity that most people to display, to one of four forms of deviance, which he calls Innovation, Ritualism, Retreatism and Rebellion.

    • Word count: 1438
  6. Most sociologists acknowledge that there is a definite link between location and crime, along with other aspects such as ethnicity and gender and try to link parallels with it.

    Social criminologists Shaw & McKay were researchers at Chicago University who developed the Cultural Transmission Theory, taking the view that there is a strong relationship between geographical area and crime due to the state of the community, economically and socially, partially in agreement with both Realist views. They divided the area into 5 concentric zones; each with different economic and social profiles. The Central Business District was in the middle, further out from this there was a mixed area of poor housing and industrial units and even further outwards, three more zones of increasing affluence.

    • Word count: 1164
  7. Violence against women has gradually come to be recognized as a legitimate human rights issue and as a significant threat to womens health and well-being.

    Women abuse refers to various forms of violence, mistreatment and neglect, which women particularly experience in their intimate and dependent relationships. In a typical abusive relationship, the abuser frequently maintains the control of his partner's actions by physically, sexually, and psychologically abusing her. The devastating impact of abuse can create wide ranging and long lasting physical, emotional scars in victim's lifetime. For instance, being abused may undermine virtually every aspect of a woman's life, including her ability to work and her relationships with children.

    • Word count: 835
  8. Identify and briefly explain 3 limitations of using victim surveys to study youth offenders

    Researchers have to be especially aware of this when surveying young people. Due to the possible distress that may be caused, it may be inappropriate to ask young people about certain issues, such as being victims of violent or sexual crime. Surveys on these issues try to overcome this ethical problem by asking older respondents about their experiences when they were younger. However, retrospective data relies on the respondent's memory and poses problems of validity. Thirdly, many self-report studies (such as victim surveys) concentrate on the reporting of less serious offences. Due to fear of the possible consequences, few people will admit to a serious crime, even if anonymous, but most will acknowledge minor law breaking.

    • Word count: 974
  9. Assess the value of the right realist approach to crime and deviance

    They also regard theories such as labelling and critical criminology as too sympathetic towards the offender and too hostile to the agencies of law and order. Right realists are more concerned with what they see as realistic solutions to crime rather than causes. However, they do in fact offer an explanation of the causes of crime. Right realists reject the idea put forward by Marxists and others that structural or economic factors are the causes of crime. Instead they argue crime is the product of three causes: individual biological differences, inadequate socialisation and the underclass, and rational choice to offend.

    • Word count: 985
  10. 2 Examine critically the contribution of labelling theory to our understanding of deviance.

    Weaker gender identities, postmodernists would argue that there are no longer traditional gender divisions in the home because, men and women have much more choice when it comes to how they see themselves and the roles which they have. Improved standards of living such as computers, television and central heating have encouraged married and cohabiting couples into being more home-centred, because people feel more comfortable being in home now because of all the luxury items the home contains. Women now have an improved status and the same rights as men.

    • Word count: 1455
  11. Assess the contribution of religion to social change

    Many religions defend their traditions if they are not seen positively by society. Functionalists see conservative force in religion as a positive force in three ways; it promotes social solidarity as people feel a stronger sense of belonging when they have other people in society to relate to and share views and beliefs. This then creates a value consensus and keeps social order as people all live by the same rules and beliefs. It also helps to deal with stress, as when something bad happens people are able to turn to religion for comfort and answers that may not necessarily come from anywhere else.

    • Word count: 615
  12. Examine critically the contribution of labelling theory to our understanding of deviance.

    The consequences of being labelled as a deviant such as deviancy amplification. The circumstances around when a person becomes defined as a deviant and analysing who has the power to attach deviant labels. According to Lawson et.al (1999) agencies of social control such as the police force could use considerable selective judgement and discretion in deciding how to deal with an act of illegal or deviant behaviour. If the police were to prosecute all acts of crime then the level of policing would require very heavy levels, therefore massively draining resources which would not receive great public support therefore criminal

    • Word count: 1418
  13. Durkheims study of suicide has been criticised on theoretical and methodological grounds. Outline Durkheims study and examine these criticisms.

    However, Douglas challenges Durkheim's theory on suicide rates. He stated that it is coroners who must decide whether a death classifies as a suicide. He argues that coroners can be influenced by a person's family who will 'fight' for them. A well integrated person, with close family ties is less likely to commit suicide as their family can argue against their death being classified as a suicide and instead 'accidental death'. This is because suicide is often seen as a 'social disgrace' and in some religions a mortal sin.

    • Word count: 1425
  14. Examine some of the reasons why females may be less likely than males to commit crimes

    On the other hand women tend to be very successful in education because they are keen to learn, therefore, they are able to develop the means to achieve their goals. This means that women do not need to commit crime to achieve their goals. Leonard also suggests that women who commit crime are often labelled as unfeminine. This form of labelling acts as a deterrent for some women thinking about committing crime as most women are concerned about how they are perceived by the public.

    • Word count: 1300
  15. Assess the view that ethnic differences in crime rates are the result of the ways in which the criminal justice system operates.

    In addition to statistics on the ethnicity of those individuals who are involved with the criminal justice system, we can call on two other important sources of statistics than can demonstrate a more direct light on ethnicity and offending. These are victim surveys and the self-report studies. Victim surveys ask individuals to say what crimes they have been victims of, usually during the past twelve months. While victim surveys are useful in helping us to identify ethnic patterns of offending, they have several limitation.

    • Word count: 1007
  16. This essay will evaluate the claim that deviant behavior is the result of dysfunctional socialization and will be looking at views from Albert K. Cohen, Richard A. Cloward and Lloyd E. Ohlin, and Emile Durkheim.

    A high value is placed on activities such as stealing, vandalism and truancy. Therefore, we can say that because there is unequal access of opportunity, there is greater pressure on certain groups within the social structure to deviate. However, Cohen's views cannot be totally accepted as Steven Box believed Cohen's theory was only plausible for a small minority of delinquents. He questioned Cohen's view that most delinquent youths originally accepted the mainstream standards of success. Rather than experiencing shame and guilt at their own failure, Box argued, they feel resentment at being regarded as failures by teachers and middle-class youths whose values they do not share and cannot accept.

    • Word count: 929
  17. Outline and assess the usefulness of official statistics in measuring crime and deviance

    The basic process for the collection of official statistics is: witness (es) discover(s) a crime, witness reports the crime, the crime is recorded by the police and OCS are collated. There are several purposes for the use of OCS, these are: to establish the volume of crime over a certain period of time; find trends and patterns in the crime statistics, give and to provided characteristics on people who are most likely to commit crime according to age, gender, social class and ethnicity. In addition once combined with statistics formed from court records and the police cautioning records (to create an official picture of those responsible of criminal offences- "criminal")

    • Word count: 1086
  18. Critically evaluate the contribution that the Labelling theory has made to our understanding of the nature of Crime and Deviance.

    The criminal or deviant acts itself is not as important in itself as the social reaction to that act is. Becker therefore agrees with the idea that crime and deviance are socially constructed. Becker' studies show that being labelled as a deviant can have important consequences for a person's identity. If the label of criminal or deviant is successfully applied, the negative label becomes a master status, which cancels out the other statuses that an individual has. It can result in excluding an individual from different social activities, such as work and other mainstream society; therefore, deviants are left to find support with others in similar situations.

    • Word count: 1445
  19. 'The world today is as furiously religious as ever it was and in some cases more so' to what extent is this statement supported.

    Berger (1997) one of the foremost advocates of secularisation during the 1960's has formally retracted his claims, 'the world today with some exceptions is as furiously religious as it ever was and in some places more so than ever'. Stephen Moore (2009) said that religious revival among Christians in the USA, Jewish people in Israel, and Muslims throughout the world has gone unexplained by proponents of the secularisation thesis.

    • Word count: 477
  20. How emergency incidents are graded

    The category 'A' incidents would have to be responded within 8 minutes. Category 'B' usually refers to incidents which are serious, however the incident isn't immediately life threatening such as a big cut or a burn. These types of incidents have a response time of 19 minutes. If the incident is neither serious or life threatening then it is given a grade category 'C' At an emergency the police would have to keep the control room updated with information which they get from the scene.

    • Word count: 1831
  21. Examine some of the reasons for the existence of deviant subcultures. Assess the view that gender is the best predictor of crime.

    Where normal society values decency and kindness, a subculture values malice and hostility, because the deviant cannot generally achieve monetary success or academic recognition, being part of a gang and becoming part of their behavioural way of life can result in acceptance, respect, and possible advancement in criminal career. Cohen maintains that deviant subcultures form because of the status frustration and alienation working class males experience, but Cloward and Ohlin challenge his views saying that he, and strain theorist Merton fail to explain why the subcultures take different forms.

    • Word count: 1535
  22. Mental illness is dependent upon the way in which the individual defines the situations. What is worrying to one person may not be to another, for example, in the film One flew over the cuckoos nest, when Macmurphy finds out that many of the people on

    But from the viewpoint of the patients, they needed to be there because they defined their own situations as too hard to cope with in the outside world. Mental illness is regarded as when the individual cannot cope with the demands of life, but because everyone has different limits to what they can cope with; this definition becomes somewhat less usable. One person may experience a negative event, and continue to perceive it in such a negative way that they lapse into a deep depression and develop a personality disorder; we would define this as a mentally ill person.

    • Word count: 1200
  23. Assess the view that crime is functional, inevitable and normal.

    The elimination of crime is impossible because there are, and always will be, differences between people, and these differences will constitute a form of deviance. Durkheim (1964) believed that a certain amount of crime was necessary for any society. Durkheim argued that a collective conscience which provides the framework for people to distinguish between acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour was evident in society. However, he found that there were problems in society when these boundaries become unclear; he stated that the boundaries change over time.

    • Word count: 2300
  24. What are the uses of both qualitative and quantitative research methods for the criminological understanding of patterns and trends of crime and victimisation?

    These types of interviews help develop a relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee, therefore it is more like that the interviewee will devour more information that they may withhold in quantitative methods. Rapport will also be developed due to the fact that the interviewee has trust and confidence in the reporter, this mean that the validity of the results is likely to be higher. Qualitative methods are extremely useful in collecting data on sensitive topics, the nature of crime is a sensitive topic and quantitative methods may be seen as being de sensitive, whereas this method is not.

    • Word count: 1737

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