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A2 Sociology Unit 4 Crime & Deviance lesson 2

Different definitions of crime

Amanda Lane

on 2 July 2013

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Transcript of A2 Sociology Unit 4 Crime & Deviance lesson 2

So.... we looked at lots of EXAMPLES of different crimes, and classified them according to the sentences that carry.
Some had fair sentences that reflected the severity of the crime. Others were not so fair when compared with crimes that received higher sentences for lesser severity...
The reason you guys had such a 'moral conflict' in regards to the crimes and their sentencing is because there are many opinions, contexts and morals involved in terms of defining crime.
So there isn't just one definition of crime.... there are a whole bunch of 'em!!

The state identifies what is and is not a crime. This is then transcribed as criminal law: Criminal acts are punishable by state sanction.

Where an action or inaction causes some form of harm. This is not necessarily physical harm, but psychological or emotional.

A crime is a crime regardless of cultural background.

Crime only exists when there is a social response to a particular activity. Society labels acts as criminal so in effect, no label, no crime.

A crime is essentially a violation of human rights, regardless of legality. This view also encompasses oppressive practices such as racism and exploitation.

Deviance is representative of oppression and inequality. Criminality therefore is a reaction caused by power inequalities and the attempts to dominate groups of people by restricting diversity.
The most important fact to consider is that people perceive and conceive crime differently.
Which definition do you favour and why?
All of these definitions are valid but the only one that society responds to is the legal definition.
This is not say that this is right... bear in mind that legal definitions change over time, which ultimately changes the nature of crime and how crimes are viewed by society.
The law is therefore a social construct and varies according to historical and social contexts.

In England in 1530, there existed a crime of being a 'Vagabond'. This basically meant that it was illegal to be lazy, bone idle, stupid and unemployed. This crime was punishable firstly through branding (By burning a hole in the right ear with a hot iron), and then if they did not find suitable employment within 2 years, they were sentenced to death by hanging (if over 18).

In 1743, The Vagrancy act expanded to include the homeless and the poor.
This crime no longer exists: However you could draw upon similarities with the negative status that the young unemployed receive today....

To appreciate that the notion of crime is subjective, and is dependent on social contexts.
To observe that our own opinions on crime are socially constructed.
Look back at the crimes that we categorised, which ones could you consider to be an act of deviance rather than a crime?
Formal legal definition
Social harm conception
Cross cultural universal norm
Labelling theory
Drug Addict
Human Rights
Human Diversity
Are there any acts of deviance that you feel SHOULD be punishable by law?
Lesson Objective
First of all....
Lets see how much you know about the law of our land!
Which of these statements is true:
a) It is illegal to allow your grass to grow over 1 meter in height.
b) It is illegal to beat a rug, mat or carpet outside.
c) It is illegal to allow your cat to trespass onto someone else's property.
b) This law carries a £1000 fine and also includes hanging washing across the street. You may however beat your doormat, but only before 8am.
a) It is illegal to impersonate father Christmas in July
b) It is illegal to sing Christmas songs in July
c) It is illegal to eat mince pies on the 25th December
c) Oliver Cromwell enforced this law as well as banning Christmas altogether. The Christmas law was lifted, but the mince pie law is still in place!
a) It is illegal to operate a cow whilst intoxicated
b) It is illegal to 'tip' a cow
c) It is illegal to keep cows and sheep in the same field
a) This law also applies to horses and steam engines. It carries a prison sentence!
30 Years
14 years
10 years
7 years
5 years
2 years
Murder, Attempted Murder, Manslaughter, GBH, Rape, Possession of a class A drug with intent to supply, Arson, Torture, Hijacking.
Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Blackmail, Death by dangerous driving, Sexual intercourse with mentally ill patients, Domestic burglary, Trafficking, Placing explosives with the intent to cause bodily harm.
Fraud by false representation, Sexual assault.
Carrying a firearm or imitation firearm in public, Racially aggravated assault, Shortening or owning a shortened shotgun.
Violent disorder, Abandonment of a child under 2, Failure to disclose information about terrorism, ABH.
3 years
Administering drugs to obtain intercourse, Intercourse with an animal, Intercourse with a corpse, Wonton or furious driving, Exposure.
Owning a brothel
6 mths
Your task.......
In your groups, you will be given a selection of crimes that are punishable by law in the UK. The maximum sentences for these crimes range from life to 6 months imprisonment.
Using discussion and common sense knowledge, decide on the maximum sentence that you believe each crime carries.
Stick your answers to the A3 sheet!
For example...
can crime as a social construct be linked to the 'biological' argument?
Full transcript