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Does Grady's chapter on domestic violence tend to support the claim that the phenomenon of crime is 'socially constructed'?

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Introduction

3. Does Grady's chapter on domestic violence tend to support the claim that the phenomenon of crime is 'socially constructed'? When conducting a discussion on the relationship between crime and morality or crime and social conscience the debate could be said to be akin to that of the chicken and the egg. Which came first? Social constructivists would say that every crime is a product of social construction or stereotype. The opposing argument would be that legislation is guided by other external principles and that these shape our social beliefs and make us acknowledge that this or that crime is socially unacceptable. Various studies could (and have) been conducted which may show that one side or the other is right, or whether there is some truth in both of the arguments. One such study is that of Ann Grady1. In the process of this essay it will be my task to decide whether this study supports the social constructivist viewpoint and whether it can be used as an argument to prove the same. It may be pertinent to first talk about Grady's study and the findings that resulted. As it obvious from the title the study was about the prevalence of female-to-male domestic violence in households in this country. ...read more.

Middle

A consequence of both these reactions is that domestic violence becomes a crime perpetrated against women and not men. It would seem from this that Grady's article could definitely be used to support the idea that a crime can be socially constructed (at least in the realm of domestic violence) but can it be used to support a wider view that all crimes are socially constructed? As has been seen in Grady's article a social ideal or stereotype can affect the perception of a crime through the actions of the police but, as I have said above, there is another way in which it could be said that society influences (or creates) crime; through direct legislation. When you look at the past criminal legislation in this country one can see that much of it has come about through pressure on the legislature and executive to reflect popular opinion through the law. A good example is the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act and the Terrorism Act as a 'knee-jerk' reaction, so to speak, to popular opinion. Laws based predominantly on morality can also be proof of the theory, such as the laws on incest in the Sexual Offences Act and laws disallowing euthanasia. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, in a totalitarian or extreme dictatorship regime there may be little incentive or need to reflect the opinions of society. There are, seemingly situations in which the phenomenon of crime in a society may not be a social construct and if that is the case it would be untrue to say that all crimes are socially constructed. However, there is weight in Grady's argument that the influence the public can have on the police culture and activity and on the legislature can result in crime being defined in accordance with that influence. This may be true with a vast amount of the law. Grady certainly does not seem to be saying (or implying) that she does not believe this statement although neither does she expressly agree with it. But an argument and thought process can be extracted from her work which does indeed tend to support the idea purported in this essay title. I would say that perhaps the answer to the question is that Grady's chapter tends to support the idea that crimes can be socially constructed but does not necessarily support the view that the phenomenon of crime is. 1 Grady, 'Male Victims of Domestic Violence: Uncommon or Ignored?' in C Hoyle and R Young (eds) New Visions of Crime Victims (Oxford: Hart, 2002) pp 71-96. Kate Johnson Week1 Social Constructon of Crime ...read more.

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