Outline and evaluate the view that crime and deviance are socially constructed

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Outline and evaluate the view that crime and deviance are socially constructed

All crime is considered deviant but not all deviant acts are considered criminal. To analyse the difference between what is crime and what is simply deviant behaviour a clear definition of both needs to be established in order to evaluate whether crime and deviance are socially constructed.

Crime is simply a set of universal rules that are punishable by law. They vary in severity from little misdemeanours to unspeakable acts of maliciousness. Depending on the type of criminal activity will decide on the outcome of the punishment (James, 2017). Whereas, deviance is recognised as a behaviour that is infringing against expected rules and norms. Deviance is more than merely non-conformity; it is behaviour that strays substantially from social expectations. Although these acts are considered offensive, they are not punishable by law and typically the punishment is stigma from within society (Nagel, 2016). For anything to be considered criminal or deviant originally the act itself must have been created and developed by a society. It is the perception of a society that determines whether the act is deviant or criminal making it socially constructed. (Scott & Marshall, 2009)

History has shown us that incidents which were once considered deviant or criminal are now not and have developed over time to conform with today’s principles within society. A clear example of this would-be homosexuality. Homosexuality was a criminal act until eventually, the act was decriminalised and the law changed in 1967 for two men to be in a relationship together without the fear of being arrested. Previous to this law males who engaged in any sexual activity with other males could face a prison sentence (BBC, 2017). In fact, many people would have described this activity as a mental illness (Burton, 2015). However, our societies have become more tolerant and evolved as our human rights have advanced. Although it is now illegal to discriminate against somebody because they are gay (Stonewall, 2016), there are still segments of our communities that would find this act deviant thus making the act itself reflective of the social conformities at that time and place.

A personal subject matter such as sexual promiscuity varies widely from one country to another. While in broadminded civilizations such as the UK, sex between two consenting adults is nobody else’s concern and individuals are educated about the dangers so they can decide for themselves (Beckford & Jamieson, 2008), while in certain countries it can be cause of punishable legal action. (Fakim, 2012)
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For instance, in Sudan which has an enormous Muslim population majority, they have much harsher punishments for sexual promiscuity as opposed to the UK who only see the act as liberating or at worse deviant. They adhere to Sharia Law which has a Zina ruling thus meaning sex outside of marriage is punishable by law (Muslim, 2007). It was only in 2012 when a young mother was convicted by the Zina ruling and sentenced to death by stoning (BBC, 2008). As barbaric as it may seem to someone living in the UK, in a society where religion advocates ...

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