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Crime and Deviance

One of the optional topics in the second unit of the AQA GCSE in Sociology (4191/2).

Ian Harris

on 25 September 2012

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Transcript of Crime and Deviance

Crime and Deviance Any act that doesn't fit in with the normal way of behaving Any act that breaks the law Agencies of Conformity and Social Control How does our society discourage crime and deviance? Formal agencies - ones governed by the law Informal Agencies - their influence on behaviour is not regulated by laws Police and Other Emergency Services Customs and Excise - these mechanisms influence our behaviour by making some behaviours too expensive or others very cheap. Politicians use taxation policy (budget setting) to reduce certain behaviours (taxes on beer and cigarettes reduce drinking and smoking) whilst promoting others, e.g. married couples tax allowances as an inducement to family life. Taxes and Revenue The emergency services, i.e. the police and (under certain circumstances) the coast guard and fire and ambulance services are the only legitimate agents of coercive power in our society. This means that they are the only group that are allowed to use or threaten phyical force (coersion) by law. If anyone else does so they have to show that there were particular circumstances that made this necessary. Ultimately, the police represent the ability of the state (the political part of our society) to make individuals behave in certain ways. Sociologists call this represion. Any part of the state that represses individual citizens can be described as part of the represive state aparatus (RSA). Judiciary and Prison/Probation Service Still part of the represive state aparatus, but not having power over ordinary citizens. Before we can be influenced by these institutions we must be arrested and charged by the police. In other words these formal agencies of social control influence us when we are accused and/or convicted of crime. They have little direct influece on deviance. Peer Group As we get older the groups of people we are most influenced by changes and shifts away from those we have been raised by to those we choose to spend time with. We look to this group to tell us what is normal and right - they provide the secondary socialisation we seek rather than the one we have imposed on us by the state. The Family Arguably the most important function of th family is the primary socialisation of the individual. This is the process that gives our sense of what is important (= values) and the right way to act (=norms). In school we talk about the hidden curriculum - this is the collection of norms, values, roles and statuses that we learn and start to live by that are not part of any formally planned learning. Education and Employment Systems When we are not able to make choices about the social institutions that we have to interact with we are more likely to resent them. Most of us have to go to school and work, consequently, we are likely to think of any direct attempts that the school or employer makes to control and regualte our behaviour as unpleasant and we are likely to resist.
So schools and work influence behaviour through more subtle means Candidates should be able to:
Distinguish the concepts of crime and deviance
Describe the ways in which individuals are encouraged to conform to social rules both formal and informal. Candidates should be aware, at a basic level, of the social distribution of crime, e.g. class, age, gender, ethnicity and locality. Candidates should be able to:
Outline different sociological explanations of criminal and deviant behaviour, such as sub-cultural theories, labelling theory and relative deprivation
Assess, at a basic level, the usefulness of official crime figures, and self-report and victim studies, to sociologists
Describe the significance of criminal and deviant behaviour for victims, communities and society in general. Candidates should be aware, at a basic level, of the ways in which criminal and deviant behaviour have generated public debates in recent years. Candidates should understand, at a basic level, the nature and significance of social problems such as racism and teenage crime. Remember the devil is always in the details ... ... but equally we should never forget the bigger picture
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