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Outline and asses sociological explanations of gender differences in the pattern of crime

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Introduction

Outline and asses sociological explanations of gender differences in the pattern of crime By looking at official statistics it would appear that 80% of all crime is committed by men. Crime committed by women is generally more minor and men commit more crime in every area with the exception of shoplifting. However in the past 10 years female crime has increased three fold. Although women only make up 4% of the prison population, in the 1970's government experts predicted that there would be no women in prison at all, which has evidentially not occurred. Even so men still commit a much higher proportion of crime. An early study into the causes of crime by Lombrosso claimed that men commit more crime as they are more likely to have physical flaws such as an extra nipple creating a more ape like appearance. By studying criminals in one Italian prison he argued that a more ape like features that he claimed could be seen in convicts and not in the prison officers, suggested that the individual was less evolved and therefore predisposed to committing crime. He noted that women are less likely to have these flaws and are therefore not born criminals explaining less female criminal activities. However Lombrosso ignored socialisation as being a factor in creating a criminal disposition, which is the idea favoured by most sociologists. ...read more.

Middle

It also coheres with phenomenologist Matza, who said that crime is the product of subterranean values which usually hide beneath our socially accepted values. However during times of 'drift' such as youth, when the individual is subject to few social bonds one may act on criminal urges. As males are said to have weaker social bonds due to informal agents such as parents often being less strict they are able to commit more crime, giving explanation for the differences in crime rates. The Functionalist, Merton argues that crime is committed due to monetary needs. He studied young men and found due to blocked opportunities such as poor education they were unable to meet the socially ascribed goals. Instead they could 'innovate' and gain monetary success through unlawful means. This would explain why men commit more crime as they are under more social pressures to earn money due to their sex-role socialisation as the bread winner. However Carlen would argue that woman are more likely to be economically marginalised than men and therefore have reason to have given up on the justice system meaning that they should in fact commit more crime. However women do commit more shoplifting than men and their second biggest crime is fraud, so this would cohere with Carlen. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miller took an independent conception approach and claimed that working class males commit crime due to their focal concerns; they commit more crime than other demographics as there culture is different and it leads directly to criminal activities. Focal concerns such as excitement, autonomy, smartness, toughness and trouble lead to crime. These focal concerns need to be followed to prove masculinity, therefore giving an explanation as to why males commit more crimes than females who do not have such social pressures. Miller is able to show the pressures of socialisation mentioned by functionalists. Similarly New Right Realist Murray also studied the working class in his study of what he called "the underclass" referring to those who live entirely off state benefits. He claimed that crime was committed by men due to a lack of paternal role models due to a high amount of single parent families. New Right Realists claim that serious unemployment leads to crime as the perpetrator has fewer responsibilities. In the north of England where there is high male unemployment due to the reduction in manual work, there are also higher crime rates. This would explain why men commit more crime than women. However New Left Realists would disagree and claim that the New Right Realists were over concentrating on the operation of control agencies and that in fact a combination of political marginalisation, relative deprivation and the formation of deviant subcultures leads to crime. ...read more.

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