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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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    The chivalry thesis claims that women will be treated more leniently for committing certain crimes, generally shoplifting is often associated more with females than males, but the statistics suggest that males commit many more acts of theft than women, an

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    This could be because the statistics of crime are so male dominated, a police officer may not think convicting a woman of petty theft is worth it, when there may be, in his opinion, a man selling drugs elsewhere, it may not be worth it in his view. Similarly, men are more likely to be convicted of theft because the criminal justice system seemingly victimises males over females, while it is probably more likely that males are more likely to commit crime than females, the gap between the crime rates between gender may not be as large as first assumed.

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    Evaluate the Functionalist explanations of Deviance.

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    He claimed that a limited amount of crime was necessary for any society. Durkheim argued that as societies develop and grow, the collective conscience, or shared values, which guide our actions and provide boundaries, are weakened. Thus, as societies become more complex the boundaries become unclear, and also change over time. It is here that a limited amount of crime has its place. Durkheim discussed three elements of the positive aspect of crime: 1. Reaffirming boundaries - every time a person breaks the law and is taken to court, the resulting court ceremony and publicity in the media, publicly reaffirms the existing values.

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  3. Outline & Evaluate the Marxist view of crime (45 Marks)

    Functionalists see crime differently; they say it emphasizes the positive role that crime may have within the social system. However both perspectives are structural theories which explain crime as a broad social phenomenon. One way in which Marxists contribute to our understanding of crime is that they explain how the upper class are able to get the laws they want. All laws passed are put in place to benefit the ruling class, ensuring they maintain control over the country. Agencies of the ruling class impose values on the working class to behave in the way the ruling class want them to.

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  4. New Right Realism & New Left Realism. The realist approach to crime treats crime as a real problem.

    Left realists accuse Marxists of romanticising the criminal by portraying them as resistant of the capitalist system. They do not agree with this theory because most working class crime is opportunistic and committed against the working class, not against capitalists. Street crimes are what left realists tend to focus their research on. They disagree with the focal adjustment on white collar crime and corporate crime that Marxists research the most out of any other type of crime. This is problematic for Marxists because they are therefore ignoring the real violence and damage done to our society by street crimes.

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  5. Crime and its effects on society. Police Reform Act 2002 The police reform act impacted mainly onto the police obviously due to giving PCSOs (Police Community Support Officer) more power to control anti social behaviour

    It also expands the circumstances in which defendants can be tried twice for the same offence (double jeopardy), when "new and compelling evidence" is introduced. The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 This act was brought out in order to try and lessen the extent of anti social behaviour, It was brought in mainly to control, truancy, suspected crack houses, illegal firework usage, false reports of emergencies, wasting police time and trespassing. It also gave the local councils the power to order under 16s to erase graffiti that they were proved to of done.

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  6. 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).

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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.

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  10. 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

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  11. 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.

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  12. 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.

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  13. 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.

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  14. 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")

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  15. 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.

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  16. 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.

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  17. 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.

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  18. 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.

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  19. 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.

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  20. Evaluate subcultural explanations for crime and deviance

    Others criticise it for being too deterministic. Albert Cohen focused more attention on culture. He placed more emphasis on the initial internalisation of mainstream norms and values through socialisation, and stated that working class youths as a whole suffer from status frustration as, for example, they may be regarded less worthwhile by their teachers and are thus may be blocked in terms of the denial of access to educational resources. These youths are then said to reject mainstream norms and values and replaced with alternative delinquent norms and values such as joy riding, arson and vandalism.

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  21. Examine the similarities and differences between subcultural theory and strain theory as explanations of deviant behaviour

    Merton also created a typology of the different options individuals have when deciding whether or not deviance from norms is an option which describes characteristics of the five different categories: Conformists, Ritualists, Innovators, Retreatists and Rebels Conformists are the group which chooses to both accept the goals of society and accept the standard means by which to attain their goals. For example, in order to have a happy life by social standards, they gain a college education, work in a 9 to 5 job, and eventually complete their goal.

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  22. Stratification of crime. Most crime is committed by teenagers. Men are convicted of more crime than women. Urban areas have much more crime than rural ones.

    Young people may actually commit more crime, or it may be that they get caught more than older people. Crime committed by the young is typically more visible, e.g. vandalism, so it's Likely to be witnessed, and the perpetrator Is more likely to be caught. White-collar crimes such as fraud are more likely to be committed by older people but these offences are more hidden and don't take place in the public arena. Social stereotypes that young people commit crime lead to police suspecting and monitoring young people more than older social groups - increasing their chance, of being caught.

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  23. Examine the reasons why some sociologists choose to use official statistics when conducting their research.

    Sociologists may use official statistics when conduction their research because official statistics offer several practical advantages. * They area free source of huge amounts of quantitative data. Only the state can afford to conduct large-scale surveys costing millions of pounds, such as the ten-yearly Census covering every house within the UK. * Sociologists can make use of this data, saving them both time and money. * Statistics allow comparisons between groups. For example, we can compare statistics on educational achievement, crime rates, or life expectancy between class, gender or ethnic groups.

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  24. Assess the view that sociology can and should be seen as a science

    When studying something in science, a scientific method is used. The processes involved with scientific methods are, something is observed, an explanation for the event is given (hypothesis), and an experiment/research is conducted. For many this is what sociology does, it tries to explain the understanding of the world and the social groups within it. Positivist's theory is based on the belief that explanations and knowledge should be based on empirical scientific method. They think that sociology should be scientific, and analyse social facts. Social facts can be directly observed and measured.

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  25. Who benefits from aid?

    This is how smaller countries tend to give aid. The World Bank is the most important aid institution. However because seats are allocated depending on how much the country contributes, America have constantly dominated. Despite the fact that most of America's aid is given bi-laterally, their aid budget still exceed the multi-lateral and other countries. Because of this America controls most of the World Aid's allocation. The final type of aid is Non-Government Organisations. Although this aid could be considered to be less important because it is small scale, it is the type of aid that has the most positive effect on the people.

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Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Assess the usefulness of consensus theories for an understanding of crime and deviance in contemporary society.

    "Also a lot of the research carried out on this topic was carried out in the early 19th century therefore research into this topic was very androcentric. As a result it ignores the fact that women also commit crimes which in contemporary society is higher than it was when Merton and Cohen were carrying out their research. Feminists would argue this point along with the point that they ignore the crimes commited by males such as domestic violence, such as sexual abuse, however, Davis' argument that the legalisation of prostitution could hinder domestic violence within the family. In conclusion, although consensus theories are outdated some of the points argued could help develop a more in depth understanding of crime and deviance within contemporary society."

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

    "As we have seen, official statistics on the criminal justice process show differences between ethnic group. The question is therefore how we explain these patterns. There are two main explanations for ethnic differences in the statistics; Left realisms and the Neo-Marxism. The left realists see the statistics represent real differences in rates of offending. Whereas the Neo-Marxists see the statistics are a social construct resulting from racist labelling and discrimination in the criminal rates of offending. From a left realist perspective, the justice system does not necessarily act on the differences of ethnic minorities but demonstrates a true representation of the rates in offending. On the other hand from a Neo-Marxists view the statistics is just a myth of the social construct and they see that is what the justice system acts on. To an extent, the left realist perspective seems to be valid as it is inane to believe that the ethnic minority community could be the fault of most crimes simply as a result of their race. However, it is also conceivable that their race, religion and ethnicity has a significant contribution ."

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

    "The statement 'the world today is as furiously religious as ever it was and in some places more so', could be perceived as being true in that some cultures and continents still have religion and religious beliefs high on their agenda, but it could be argued that in European cultures especially, there is a decline in religious values and beliefs, statistics back up both sides at the argument, so it could just fall down to personal beliefs and opinion about the subject matter in hand."

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