Sociology Paper 2: Crime And Deviance Pt 2
Sociology Paper 2: Crime And Deviance Pt 2
The impact of Crime:
Youth crime as a social problem
Drug-taking, binge-drinking, knife crime, involvement in gangs and antisocial behaviour are often front page news in the UK
Such behaviour, when associated with teenagers can cause anxiety and fear amongst the public
Significance of media coverage and public debate
Youth crime is seen as a social problem because its harmful/negative consequences
Some researchers argue that young offenders are cast as society's number one folk devil (the media's portrayal of folk devils can lead to a moral panic), Young people are often scapegoats blamed for society's problems
Governments have designed various policies to control youth crime and anti-social behaviour - e.g. fining parents for children's misbehaviour, curfews and ASBOs (although ASBOs do not always work as they are seen as a badge of status by some!)
Sometimes the level of anxiety about crime is not in proportion to the actual risk of becoming a victim
Crime can impact on local communities by generating fear of violence, burglary, car crime and anti-social behaviour - it can lead people to feel that community ties are breaking down or community is being destroyed
Fear or worry about crime affects everyone to some degree regardless of whether they have been victims of crime
Studies of the impact of crime - show the impact of crime; financially; socially; psychologically
Studies of the role of victims in the criminal justice process - the victim's role in reporting crime, providing evidence and acting as witnesses
Measurement research (looks a the type/number of people who are victims e.g. BCS & The Crime Survey for England and Wales
Official statistics of crime recorded by the police - cannot be taken at face value (they exclude the 'dark figure' of crime - unreported and unrecorded crime) so we need to interpret them with care.
The police do not necessarily record all crime that is reported to them - they may see crime as too trivial to record; doubt the complainants report or have insufficient evidence that a crime has been committed.
Some crimes are not witnessed or discovered so can't be reported; Less serious crimes (e.g. vandalism tends to be under-reported but most car theft is reported because of insurance); People tend not to report crimes they see as private; The victim may not report a crime such as sexual assault as they feel the police will handle it insensitively; Employers may not report crime that their employees commit because they do not want negative publicity; People may be afraid of reprisals; People may not want their own conduct scrutinised.
Official statistics are 'socially constructed' as they are an outcome of decisions and choices made by the people (such as witnesses, victims and police) who are involved in their construction.
Ask people to reveal offending the have committed
E.g. The Offending, Crime and Justice Survey that measures the extent of self-reported offending, drug use and antisocial behaviour in England and Wales, especially among 10-25 year olds. By asking people to disclose offences they have committed, the OCJS provides information on offenders and offences that are not necessarily dealt with by the police or courts.
Victim surveys: - Ask people about their experiences of crime. E.g. The British Crime Survey (renamed in 2012 as The Crime Survey for England and Wales) - asks people whether they have been a victim of a particular crime and if so, whether they reported it to the police - indicates that many people do not report crimes to the police.
Explaining Crime and Deviance (Non-sociological ideas)
Psychological explanations - some explanations focus on personality traits (or features) of individual offenders - e.g. being impulsive (people who act without thinking).
Biological explanations - focus on particular biological explanations (e.g. Lombroso's ideas that some people were born criminals and crime could be explained in terms of genetically determined physical features. More recent explanations focus on the genetic basis of crime and anti-social behaviour).
Labelling theory: - explores how and why some people (e.g. working class boys) become labelled as deviant or criminal. - Cicourel argued that a deviant is someone who has been labelled as such. - this theory says crime/deviance exists because people were labelled as criminals/deviant by other people - if we treat people as criminal or deviant, they will behave in this way. - Labelling someone as deviant may help to create a self-fulfilling prophecy by pushing someone further towards deviance. - Labelling = when we think of someone in terms of one or a few characterises we have decided are important. E.g. pupils could label a teacher a "good teacher" - Master Status = when a person has been given a label and that label becomes the most important things about them/their defining characteristic, e.g. a paedophile. - Deviant Career = If a person is labelled a thief - they may become one.
Sub-cultural theories: - explain crime and deviance in terms of the values of a specific subculture (group of people has a set of norms and values different from everyone else) and the influence of the peer group. - e.g. vandalism and joyriding are carried out in groups. Young males may learn such deviant behaviour by joining a peer group or gang where this is the 'done thing'. - Cohen argued working-class boys join delinquent subcultures to gain status within their peer group. - Possible features of a subculture and how they might cause delinquent behaviour = little value placed on education; no respect for authority; dislike of school rules; enjoyment of thrills and risks (e.g. fights)