Explore how both sociology and social psychology can help us to understand anti-social behaviour

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Explore how both sociology and social psychology can help us to understand anti-social behaviour

Anti-social behaviour can be defined differently by everybody, in order to understand what anti-social behaviour is you should understand the definition provided by the government; this definition is from the crime and disorder act “Acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as (the defendant)” (Crime and disorder act , 1998). The defining point of sociology is to look at social problems in relation to society and how society causes them and solves them whilst the defining point of social psychology is to look at how an individual reacts in a social situation or context and how they are influenced. Therefore by the same token, sociology would explain anti-social behaviour as being a social problem created by societal issues such as age, race, gender, class and so on, and social psychology would explain anti-social behaviour as being an individual reacting to the situation they are in within society, which again would fall under age, race, gender and class. So these are both very similar with only slightly differing focuses aiming to understand what anti-social behaviour is and why people commit it. This essay will mainly focus on understanding violent types of anti-social behaviour.

The crime and criminal justice survey of 2003 found that “29% of young people said they had committed at least one act of anti-social behaviour in the last year” and “males reported higher levels of anti-social behaviour across all types of behaviour” with at least a third of males committing anti-social behaviour compared to a fifth of females, as well as finding that 14-16 year olds are the most likely age group to commit acts of anti-social behaviour with two fifths of 14-16 year olds admitted to committing anti-social behaviour in the last year (Hayward & Sharp, 2003). Straight away these findings show two clearly defined groups of the four main social group’s sociology and social psychology focus on as being a cause for anti-social behaviour. The officially defined acts of anti-social behaviour fall under: noise disturbance, graffiti, neighbour complaint, joyriding, racial harassment, carrying weapons and fare evasion. Some of the ways the government have sought to tackle anti-social behaviour include; the housing act (1996) which allows social landlords to evict anti-social tenants, the anti-social behaviour act (2003) which gives police the rights to disperse groups perceived to be likely to behave in an anti-social manner, and the introduction of ASBO’s which is used to restrict the behaviour of people with a record of anti-social behaviour through a court order (Millie, 2008). The ASBO policy has come under criticism for targeting marginalised groups, specifically people in social housing which is most often occupied by lower classes, as a result the policy has effectively demonised people living in social housing as being trouble makers (Cowan, Gilroy, & Pantazis , 2001). A real problem the government has had is actually implementing policies that genuinely tackle anti-social behaviour in a way that works, so far all policies that have been brought in attempting to tackle this social problem have for the most part been complete failures, leading to the recent scrapping of the ASBO policy and replacing it with CBO’s (Kelly, 2012), for some reason all policies that have been brought in are somehow made into a joke by the public and are not taken seriously leading to the policy being considered completely pointless and scrapped. The current system for tackling anti-social behaviour is to contact your local council but that has very little effect on the future prevention of anti-social behaviour (Tackling anti-social behaviour, 2016). Some ways to tackle anti-social behaviour could include better education funding so that lower class children that are more likely to commit acts of anti-social behaviour are given more one to one time and attention in school which they may lack at home or funding after school clubs in a way that children may be more inclined to see as cool which provides low income children with somewhere to go rather than loitering the streets for fun.
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According to a sociologist societal rules enforced on deviant people referred to as ‘outsiders’ are often rejected and deviants revert to the mind-set that they are being judged which they refuse to accept from society (Becker, 2008). This could explain anti-social behaviour, especially when looking at deviants in social housing which are viewed by the rest of society as ‘outsiders’ and why they choose to commit crimes and behave in a deviant manner. However, deviant behaviour is a social construct because it can be perceived differently in different cultures and by different people, therefore should we really be ...

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