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To what extent can orthodox theories on crime and deviance explain crime and deviance in the Caribbean?

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Introduction

To what extent can orthodox theories on crime and deviance explain crime and deviance in the Caribbean? Breaking the law is typically understood as something deviant and is needed to be reduced. There is a constant goal by governments to lower crime rates in their country but crime, surprisingly, is considered by most Functionalists as being "healthy for society." Without crime society can fall apart. The orthodox view is that crime in developing countries is the product of social change. It is a transformation from a traditional to a more modern stage of development. Modernisation is seen as a disruption to society involving urbanisation, industrialisation and de-population of the countryside which causes imbalances such as overcrowding in the larger cities and a state of anomie or normlessness. According to Ken Pryce (1976) however, "In the third world, the rising crime rate is not a product of modernisation per se, but a symptom of a particular type of "development of underdevelopment." The Caribbean focuses on mainly economic development and profits which only benefits a minority of the population (usually upper class) and therefore there will be a higher unemployment rate where people will have to search for means of survival by illegitimate means such as prostitution and violence. ...read more.

Middle

They replace these goals with their own set of norms and values in which they can achieve success and gain prestige which in turn creates a "delinquent subculture." According to Cohen, "the delinquent subculture takes its norms and values from the larger culture but turns them upside down," for example in lower class communities in the Caribbean , a high value is placed on theft, vandalism, kidnapping and even murder which are acts usually condemned by the wider society. Cohen believes that because there is unequal access to opportunity, there us a greater pressure on certain groups in the social structure to deviate. Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin argued that Merton failed to mention illegitimate opportunity structure saying that just as one can achieve success by legitimate means, so can an individual achieve success by illegitimate means. According to Cloward and Ohlin, there are three distinguished possible responses to this: 1) Criminal Subculture- in some areas a "learning environment" is provided for the young. They are exposed to criminal skills and deviant beliefs and values and are presented with criminal role models. 2) The Conflict Subculture which develops when adolescents have little opportunity for access to illegitimate opportunity structures. It also prevents a stable criminal culture to develop thus; it leads to a breeding ground for gang violence. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the Caribbean this is a common factor where people from certain communities plagued by crime are all labelled as part of the criminal element. But the individuals involved in criminal activity are firstly rejected by family or friends which may encourage further deviance e.g. drug addicts who turn to crime to support their habit. There is also discrimination against ex- convicts in gaining employment, "the treatment of deviants denies them the ordinary means of carrying on the routines of everyday life open to most people. Because of this denial, the deviant must of necessity develop illegitimate routines." The deviants then join an organized deviant group and form a "deviant subculture" which includes their own beliefs and values e.g. theft helps you to gain prestige within the group. In conclusion the theories that can be applied to the Caribbean are all of the above listed because crime and deviance in the Caribbean is a mixture of each. But the one theory that most suits the Caribbean environment is Cloward and Ohlin's theory on Delinquency and Opportunity where there is a high rate of unemployment which leads people to achieving success goals by illegitimate means. Lower- class males reject mainstream goals and set their own. Frustration drives the delinquents to pursue values that disrupt the world they cannot cope with. Deviance in this case is non- conformity. ...read more.

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