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Unit 4 Sociology

Crime And Deviance with Theory and Methods :)

Amy Holmes

on 13 November 2012

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Transcript of Unit 4 Sociology

Unit 4; Sociology Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods Crime; behaviour which breaks the law and is punishable by the legal system.
Deviance; behaviour that contradicts the norms and values of a social group, or of society itself. How are crime and deviance defined? Crimes are behaviours that are typically considered deviant. However, not all deviant behaviours are necessarily criminal e.g. cross dressing and swearing in public. Downes and Rock's Definition of Deviance Deviance may be considered; "banned or controlled behaviour which is likely to attract punishment or disapproval." Pease's Definition of Crime "Crimes are those actions deemed so disturbing to citizens or so disruptive of society as to justify state intervention." BUT; this is a limited definition- non-criminal behaviours such as global warming may be considered disturbing and disruptive to society. Crime and deviance are culturally determined, and there are more variations between cultures about what is deviant than there are about what is considered criminal. Foucault Definitions of criminal and sexual deviance and madness have changed throughout history. e.g. women wearing trousers and homosexuality. Therefore, deviance is RELATIVE-it changes with times and places as norms and values alter. What is deviant to some groups may be essential to integration in others. e.g in subcultures where norms and values differ to those of mainstream society. Plummer- Societal and Situational Deviance The same act may be seen as deviant or non-deviant depending on the circumstances and situation:
Societal deviance- Acts that are seen as deviant by most of society, in most situations. e.g. random acts of violence or child abuse.
Situational deviance- Acts that may be deviant in one context can be normal in another. e.g. nudity.
Also suggests that culture affects the nature of C&D- again, with homosexuality, it was illegal in Britain before 1969, but is now generally socially acceptable between consenting adults. Social order and control maintain the value consensus (norms, values and behaviours that are shared by members of a society) and therefore prevent disruption of society. People are socialised into the value consensus and are both consciously and unconsciously aware of social norms. Conscious- governed by laws e.g. stopping at traffic lights.
Unconscious- natural e.g. conversational etiquette such as eye contact. Social control, order and consensus Formal Methods of Social Control -Institutions that are specifically set up to enforce social order. Informal Methods of Social Control -Involve institutions that are not concerned with creating and enforcing social control. For example, the family,schools and religious institutions socialise children into the value consensus and punish deviance. Informal methods are most important because the individual is most likely to be concerned with the opinions of their significant others. Many sociologists argue that informal methods of social control are more significant, and often more successful than formal methods due to the close personal relationships involved, and the recognition this lends to the impact of a deviant act. In modern industrial society, this includes institutions that create and enforce the law; e.g. parliament creates laws and the police, judiciary and prison services enforce the law. Examples of formal control include imprisonments, fines and physical force e.g. arrest. The most obvious form of social control is physical force; professionals such as the police or armed forces may use physical methods such as restraint to control deviant or criminal behaviour. Other formal methods include imprisonment and fines. The Context and Diversity of Crime and Deviance Deviance takes on various forms in society, but can generally be categorised in one of two ways; Secret and private deviance-often concealed; it may take place in normal settings such as the home and the workplace. It may be legal e.g. "swingers" meeting in one another's homes, or it may be illegal e.g. murder. Open and public deviance-involves conformity to the norms and values of a clearly defined marginal group e.g. New Age travellers tend to be viewed with hostility by wider society. synoptic link (U3);
New Religious Movements such as The Moonies are seen to be deviant, but not necessarily criminal Durkheim- Positivism Two Three The Sociology Of Suicide Durkheim, a Positivist, argued that it is possible, and essential to use scientific methods when studying suicide. He chose suicide deliberately due to its nature as the most private and psychologically driven act that could be carried out by an individual; it was typically as a result considered not to be a social phenomenon.
He argued that, if sociological research could identify social factors that contributed to suicide rates, this would demonstrate the impact of society on individual actions. These facts, he suggested, would operate in much the same way as the laws of physics, or the other natural sciences. Extra ideas: The pre-sociological view of suicide. Before Durkheim, many other theories had evolved about the nature of, and reasons for, suicide. These theories included references to;
Biological factors such as heredity and racial predisposition to commit suicide. (Many suggested that members of some races were more likely to commit suicide than others.)
Psychological factors such as mental illness, or perceived mental instability.
Meteorological and cosmic factors such as climate,
temperature and planetary alignment. ( It was believed
that the way in which the Moon aligned with Earth caused
'lunacy', a popular explanation for suicide.) Lukes; Characteristics of Social Facts. According to Lukes, the social facts identified by Durkheim have 3 common characteristics;
They are external to individuals.
They shape the behaviour of individuals.
They are greater than individuals- they exist on a 'higher level' than individuals; we cannot control or influence them. Durkheim argues that the suicide rate is a social fact; in his study of European suicide rates he identified four patterns.
1) Suicide rates stayed relatively constant over time.
2) Changes in the suicide rate coincided with other social changes such as economic depression.
3) Suicide rates differ from society to society.
4)Within Functionalism Group Subcultural Theories Miller (1962) Merton's Strain Theory The Functions of Deviance Member Member Member Theories of... ...Crime and Deviance Group Member Member Member Group Member Member Member Functionalists argue that society, as a stable system based upon the value consensus, is disrupted by crime and deviance. However, they suggest that deviance is inevitable, and can perform a positive function in society. Key Terms Norms and values- a set of beliefs and ideals that influence behaviour in members of society.
Consensus- A shared set of norms, values and beliefs or behaviours.
Conformity- Members of society act in accordance to its set norms and values.
Social Solidarity- A sense of unity provided by sharing norms and values. e.g. disgust at a crime or national pride during the Olympic summer.
Social Stability- How well society functions e.g. crime and war are disruptive to social stability.
Anomie- A sense of normlessness. Most likely to occur in times of great social change or disruption.
Status Frustration- Experienced when a member of society feels unable to surpass their social position or gain access to their desires e.g. theft occurs as a result of material deprivation, which may stem from, or cause status frustration. Crime and deviance are explained in terms of three concepts;
Consensus; in any society, a basic agreement about behaviour, norms and values exists.
Conformity; people are not naturally deviant, nor are they naturally law abiding.
Control- deviant behaviour occurs as a result of the breakdown in social controls. Therefore, Durkheim argues that all societies face two major problems; how to achieve social order and how to maintain social stability. The inevitability of crime Durkheim argues that crime is "an integral part of all healthy societies" and that whilst too much crime is destabilising, low levels of crime can be functional. Why are crime and deviance universal to all societies? Not everyone is socialised effectively into the correct norms and values, so some people are prone to, or more likely to commit deviant acts. In modern societies where there is diversity of lifestyles and values, different subcultures develop. These may see the values of mainstream society as deviant, and vice versa. In modern societies with more diversity of belief, there is a tendency towards anomie. This is because the rules and norms of society become less clear to accommodate for different value sets. This weakening of the collective consciousness often results in high crime rates; an act may no longer be considered deviant by the majority or by subcultures and therefore, there is less informal social control over it. The positive functions of crime. Durkheim suggests that crime fulfills two vital positive functions;
Boundary maintenance- crime unites society in solidarity against the perpetrator and reinforces conformity to norms and values. Formal methods of social control such as court proceedings dramatise and attach stigma to the criminal and their act. This discourages others from law breaking and reaffirms the values of mainstream society.
Adaptation and change- Individuals with differing values to those of society's main body are often seen to be deviant. Therefore, it may be suggested that any major social change comes about with an act of deviance; the individual or subculture may challenge mainstream society's norms and values, and if successful, bring about an adaptation. For example, new religious groups are often persecuted at first, until their values become part of an established culture. However, if new ideals are suppressed by the majority of society or by authorities, it is unlikely that change will occur. Although Durkheim does suggest that crime can benefit society, it is worth noting that too much crime can cause deterioration and remove social bonds between institutions. It could, however, be suggested that too little crime is a sign of oppression; deviance is often a result of expression of freedom, and absence of crime may suggest that subcultures or individual beliefs are stifled. Deviance as a social 'safety valve' Davis (1961) suggests that prostitution allows married men to release sexual frustrations without threatening the stability of the monogamous nuclear family. This is because prostitution is a deviant act and is therefore more likely to be conducted in a more discreet 'professional' manner than an affair. Polsky (1967) approaches pornography in the same fashion; it channels sexual desire away harmful acts such as adultery and therefore protects familr life. Albert Cohen also suggests that deviance has another positive function; if particular types of crime or deviance increase, it demonstrates problems within a particular institution. For example, truancy shows that changes need to be made to the education system. The same may also be said for high levels of benefit fraud; this demonstrates that reforms within the system may be necessary. It may sometimes be possible for society to regulate deviance by allowing for it to occur in a controlled setting. For example. festivals, carnivals and protests allow subcultural groups to express beliefs or behave in a particular way without being punished. Evaluation of Durkheim Durkheim offers no way of knowing what the 'right amount' of crime is.
Functionalists suggest that all crime is functional, and fail to recognise that because it may in some way serve a function. e.g promoting solidarity, it does not necessarily solely exist to perform that function.
The negative impact of crime is ignored- Functionalists highlight the so-called positive functions of criminal activity but do not acknowledge the damage that my be caused to individuals.
Crime does not, as suggested, always promote solidarity. What is seen as an appalling act by one subculture may be justified by another. Merton suggests that 'cultural goals' are essential to the function of society; these goals provide people with the incentives to carry out their social roles. For many societies (particularly complex modern Capitalist societies), these goals are based upon material wealth, and from a young age, people are socialised into the desire for success, and encouraged to strive to reach their goals. However, some people lack the means for success and therefore experience strain; for example, poverty stricken children in the UK and the US may particularly feel strain because they are encouraged to covet material possessions, but lack the financial means to obtain them. Merton also suggests that anomie arises from a person's unwillingness or inability to achieve the life goals that exist ahead of them. Merton suggests five main ways in which individuals may react to the strain between goals and the means of achievement. Conformity; Where a person follows and accepts the rules and norms of society, even though the goals are unattainable. There is no deviant response despite the acceptance of the goals. Innovation; Although the goals are unattainable through legitimate means, they are still accepted by the individual, who strives to achieve them. This is usually through other illegitimate means such as robbery. Ritualism; Some individuals choose to continue working within a particular system, despite being unable to achieve the goals. Merton classes this as a deviant response because the people in this category may not choose to aim any higher or aim for better opportunities. Retreatism; Those who lack the means and reject the goals may choose to withdraw from mainstream society and carry out 'reclusive deviance' such as drug abuse. Rebellion; Some individuals reject both the goals of society and the means of achievement, and form their own set of values and goals. this could explain politically motivated acts such as freedom fighting or terrorism. Evaluation of Merton's Strain Theory Merton is able to explain how rates of property crime are so high in Materialistic societies such as that of America; because so much emphasis is placed on material wealth it is likely that theft is the most frequent offence.
Lower class crime rates are, in keeping with the principles of Strain Theory, higher than those of the working classes. This is because members of less affluent social groups are more likely to experience strain, and to turn to illegitimate means to achieve their goals. HOWEVER
Strain Theory takes official crime statistics, which over represent the working classes, at face value. Therefore, Merton assumes that crime is largely a working class phenomenon.
It is overdeterministic; not all working class people feel strain, and not all of those who do respond in a deviant manner.
Marxists argue that the power of the ruling class to make the laws that punish the working classes is ignored, and that therefore, Strain Theory does not recognise the way in which criminality is a subjective concept. (Crime and punishment are determined and enforced by those in power, and therefore do not always reflect the interests of wider society so much as those of the ruling parties) Summer Riots Activity In August 2011, officers from Operation Trident shot dead Mark Duggan, a young black man from the Broadwater estate in Tottenham. ... small Recent Applications of Strain Theory Recent strain theorists argue that new social goals now stretch beyond material wealth. For example, they suggest that young people now aim to achieve other goals such as popularity, respect and notoriety or status among peers. Like traditional strain theorists they suggest that failure to achieve these aims leads to a rise in deviance, and argue that this is now particularly prevalent among middle class youths. Messner and Rosenfeld- Institutional anomie Like Merton's strain theory, Rosenfeld and Messner focus on the failings of the American Dream as a set of achievable ideals. They argue that its materialistic, individually focused values have undermined society's norms and values and created a widespread sense of anomie. This is because previous moral obligations to others are abandoned, and replaced with a 'winner takes all' attitude. In America, and increasingly in the United Kingdom, it may be suggested that economic values are given prominence ahead of other norms and beliefs, and consequently other institutions are undermined. As a result, Messner and Rosenfeld suggest that in countries such as the USA, where Capitalism takes the fore, high crime rates are inevitable. This is because, in such societies, materialistic competitive values suffocate others such as respect, hard work and self discipline. Subcultural theorists suggest that the values of some social groups encourage and in fact value deviance. Therefore deviant acts may also be seen as actions of conformity, despite the way that they do not reflect the norms and values of wider society in the way that they reflect those of the subculture. Albert Cohen; In particular, working class boys suffer as a result of cultural deprivation (they lack the middle class "cultural capital" that would provide them with opportunities to succeed in the class room and in employment). This often leads to feelings of resentment towards their position in society and their inability to change it.( Status frustration) Therefore, deviant subcultures act as a means of releasing the pressures of status frustration; behaviour that would be seen as delinquent in mainstream society is accepted and praised as the correct behaviour for members of the subculture e.g. drug taking and vandalism. As a result, Cohen suggests that deviant subcultures provide a level of prestige for those who have a lack of status in mainstream society. Synoptic link; Education
Bordieu's concept of cultural capital is useful Crime and deviance are as a result of working class values.
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