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Outline and assess sociological explanations of why some communities are subject to more crime than others,focusing on social class and geographicaland/ or ethnic minority communities.

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Introduction

Outline and assess sociological explanations of why some communities are subject to more crime than others, focusing on social class and geographical and/ or ethnic minority communities. Merton's perspective on Durkheim's 'anomie' has been influential in the sociology of crime and deviance. Similarly, theories such as Albert Cohen's sub cultural theory and the concepts of status frustration and the self- fulfilling prophecy seek to explain why some communities and social strata are subject to more crime than others. Arguably, poverty and inequality are causes inextricably linked with the criminalisation of communities, circumstances which are generally more prevalent in the lives of ethnic minorities and the working classes. Similarly, certain geographical areas face higher poverty than others, internationally and even within Britain itself. According to an investigation by police- immigrant relations in 1972 'black people were more law- abiding than the general population' (Layton Henry 1992). However as time has progressed, relations between ethnic minorities and the police have become increasingly strained, with official statistics and other data supporting the claim that ethnic minorities are proportionally more likely to commit and be the victim of crimes. A case in point is highlighted in the Macpherson Report, produced after the murder of black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, suggesting that the Metropolitan police service is ingrained with 'institutional racism'. However comparable to these claims are those that ethnic groups, for example Afro- Caribbean men, are likely to turn to crime as a survival strategy, perhaps as a form of defense against wider racism. ...read more.

Middle

According to Cohen 'the delinquent sub culture takes its norms from larger culture but turns them up side down'. Activities which are condemned by wider society are welcomed and applauded by the deviant sub culture, therefore the working class individual is able to achieve status and success in his own domain. These theories may also be descriptive of ethnic deviance with regards to the prevalence of Latino and black gangs in LA. An example of the deviance exhibited by these groups is found in the initiation ceremonies which commonly involve a new member being beaten up by established members of the gang. This phenomenon again exhibits both the geographical and ethnic significance of crime. However, conflict theorists offer a different explanation as to the prominent criminality exhibited by ethnic minorities and the working classes. Marxist theory depicts the inequality of the Capitalist system as an inevitable cause of crime. Capital and profit are the only aspirations of those living in a capitalist state which creates a competitive but biased environment in which the working classes inevitably suffer. David Gordon argues that 'crime is rational in a "dog eat dog" society'. Moreover, the subjugated working class is effectively imprisoned to neautralise opposition, they are hidden from view by the very elite which is responsible for its deviance via the active propagation of inequality. ...read more.

Conclusion

Howard Becker stated in 1963 'the central fact about deviance... it is created by society... the causes of deviance are located in the social situation of the deviant...' Therefore, due to social inequality, not only are disadvantaged groups likely to be drawn to deviance, they will also be further maligned by the label of 'criminal'. For example, an Afro- Caribbean man in his 20s who is unable to find work due to institutional racism will be subsequently prejudiced against by the police, judiciary and wider society if he commits a crime. Cultural factors such as increasing anomie disadvantage the working classes and ethnic minorities in a structural sense. As a result areas which are pre dominated by these groups such as council estates in inner city areas are subject to more crime which according to Marxists is 'the natural outgrowth of the capitalist society'. Consensus and conflict theories differ little in their explanations as to why certain communities are subject to more crimes than others , but both negate the factor of choice which results in one's gravitation towards deviance. Labelling theories seek to examine this phenomenon from a more interactionist perspective, describing the disadvantages derived from racism and society's prejudices as a precipitating and perpetuating cause of crime in certain groups and communities. However in the area of crime all theories are explanatory without being prescriptive. Though Merton, Becker and Durkheim can explain the causes of working class crime, none can offer a solution. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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