Crime and Deviance
Nature anFormal and Informal Rules
Deviance(norm or rule-breaking behaviour)
Crime(specific form of deviance. Breaking of legal (state) norms / rules)
Note: Not all deviance is criminal, just as some forms of crime (e.g. illegal parking) not seen as particularly deviant.
Formal rules: laws (state rules), written rules /regulations (e.g. School rules)
Informal rules: unstated / unwritten rules / norms (e.g. Picking your nose)
Social Construction of deviance: Is deviance an absolute or relative concept?
Historicaldifferences (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, drug use)
Cross-Culturaldifferences (e.g. alcohol use, dress codes)
Different societies and same society at different times develop different interpretations of deviant / non-deviant behaviour. If same behaviour can be shown to be interpreted differently, suggests deviance is a relative concept (that is, relative to the culture or subculture in which behaviour is interpreted).
Societaland Situational deviance (Plummer): Behaviour considered deviant (illegal?) by society may be acceptable to subcultural groups (e.g. Bank robbery / homosexuality) and vice versa (abortion is legal in UK but unacceptable to some religious subcultures).
Hagan("The Disreputable Pleasures"): Conflict and Consensus crimes: Seriousness of deviance related to:
Level of social agreement (High = serious / Low = non-serious)
Level of social reaction (strong = serious / weak = non-serious)
Assessment of personal / social harm / injury (High = serious)
Social Construction of Deviance
Interactionism/ Labelling theory: "Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label" (Becker): i.e. what is deviant to you is normal to me.
Primary deviance: Norm-breaking that hasn't been publicly-labelled as deviant
Secondary deviance: What happens after someone (e.g. Control Agency such as police) reacts to the fact of your deviance (the consequences of the social reaction to deviant behaviour)
Social reaction: Seen by Interactionists (and Radical Criminologists) as a crucial variable in the understanding of deviance. If no-one reacts to your deviant behaviour, the social consequences are minimal…
Stigma: One possible consequence of being labelled deviant (social disapproval)
Non-culpable deviance: Deviant behaviour for which individual is not held responsible (e.g. madness, disability, some forms of children's behaviour)
Culpable deviance: Deviance for which individual is seen to have responsibility.
Different basic forms of deviance (Good / Admired behaviour. Bad behaviour. Odd behaviour)
Folk devils(S.Cohen) - how and why some groups / individuals are scapegoated / stigmatised (symbolic embodiment of social fears). E.g. Youth subcultures
Moral Panics(see: Deviancy Amplification): Role of media (and moral entrepreneurs) in creation of social concern about deviance.
The Measurement, Extent and Distribution of Crime / DevianceMeasurement (note: Reliability and Validity)
Official Crime Statistics(reliable)
Underestimation of crime (especially middle class / female)
Overestimation of crime (especially working class / male)
Reported to and recorded by police
Self Report Surveys(valid) - e.g. Campbell "Delinquent Girls", British Crime Surveys (bi-annual)
Underestimation of some crime (domestic / sexual crime)
Victim Surveys(valid): British Crime Surveys / Islington Crime Survey.
Crime recordingdepends on: status of complainant, differential law enforcement polices, police and public perceptions / socialisation, moral panics.
Crime reportingdepends on: Nature of offence (serious / trivial), embarrassment, fear of reprisal, no faith in police, unaware of victimisation.
Dark figure of crime(difference between actual number of crimes and crimes reported to police): Some crime always reported (e.g. car theft) / Many crimes not reported (e.g. Theft, burglary, fraud)
Interactionism - Official crime statistics reflect police / public perceptions
Radical Criminology ("idealist"): Statistics represent official concerns.
New Left Realism ("realist") - Statistics broadly reflect crime distribution.
Patterns of crime
(Official Crime Statistics)
Social Class - most crime committed by working class
Gender- males generally more criminal than females
Age - young (under 21) commit more crimes than adults (over 21)
Ethnicity - young, working class, blacks commit more crimes (note concepts of age and class here).
Region - less crime in rural areas than in urban areas (inner cities, council housing estates especially). Different types of crime by region.
Overall: Most criminal in our society are young, working class, males.
Explanations: Consider the following concepts:
Socialisation / Social Control(agencies such as family, police). Self controls (middle classes - more to lose, better life chances). Informal controls more effective in rural areas (Tonnies: Gemeinschaft / Gesellshaft)
Visibility of crimes (opportunistic, witnesses, identifiable victims)
Policing strategies (some groups, regions, crimes, policed heavily)
Lifestyles (e.g. Youth = socially active (clubs, pubs, etc.). Relationship between age and crime may have more to do with youth lifestyles than "age".
Opportunity structures (e.g. men and women, young and old, etc. have different chances for committing crimes. Where opportunities similar (e.g. shoplifting, similar levels of crime for above groups). Middle class males commit different types of crime (fraud etc) than working class females.
The Impact of Crime (1): Victimisation
Objectivedimension (financial cost, personal effect - "nuisance value")
Subjectivedimension (psychological impact - trauma, fear. stress)
British Crime Surveys:
Most victims suffer little effect.
Most serious effects = personal crimes (wounding, robbery, burglary etc. - the effect of "invasion of privacy")
Most serious crime for men = mugging.
Most serious crime for women = domestic violence.
Indirect effects of victimisation:
On family / relatives (e.g. murder)
Witnessing crimes (shock, fear)
Quality of life (effects of prostitution, drug abuse, racial harassment)
Fraud, shoplifting - indirect economic costs to general public
Environmental crimes (pollution etc.)
Repeat victimisation - most likely = burglary, sexual abuse, domestic violence, racial harassment / violence.
The Impact of Crime (2):
The Fear of Crime.
National Surveys: e.g. .British Crime Survey (BCS) - since 1982 - Bi-annual.
Local Surveys: e.g. Islington Crime Survey (Lea and Young)
Most worried = Inner City dwellers (Mawby and Walklate '94); the Elderly (statistically least at risk)
Least worried = young males (most at risk of personal assault)
33% feared burglary (Burglary = 6% of all crime)
15% feared mugging (Mugging = 1% of all crime)
Crime most feared by all = burglary
Women most fearful of crime (especially rape)
Islington crime Survey (New Left Realism): fear realistically related to high crime areas
Social Class: Poor fear crime the most (Kinsey and Anderson '92)
Impact of crime greater on poor, elderly because of their status:
Poor = uninsured
Elderly = fear of violence
Zedner '97: Fear is related to general social concerns (moral decline, insecurity, etc.)
Are fears justified / irrational? Or is "fear" precautionary?
Fear related to Risk Avoidance (especially women, elderly): May explain why, statistically, such groups experience "less victimisation".
Is "fear" right way to view this situation?
Lack of reliable and valid empirical dataabout "fear of crime" and relationship between risk avoidance and victimisation
Theories of Crime and Deviance (1)Positivist / Functionalist
Positivist:Searching for the causes of crime:
Individual (biological, chemical, genetic, social)
Society (factors that create criminal tendencies within different individuals)
Durkheim:The functions of crime.
Boundary marking for acceptable / unacceptable behaviour (laws)
Public marking of boundaries (judicial process, media)
Social solidarity / social integration
Too much crime = dysfunctional = social disorganisation (anomie)
Merton (Strain Theory): Explanation for economic crimes
Socialisation (into society's values: "success" (the "American dream")
Responses to disjunction between "ends" and "means" (anomie):
Conformity, Innovation, Ritualism, Retreatism, Rebellion.
Ecological(Area Studies): Chicago School (1920's / '30's): Social Disorganisation
Social Darwinism (Park)
Concentric Zone Theory (Shaw and McKay)
Cultural Transmission Theory
Differential Association (Sutherland and Cressey): cf. White-collar crime
UK Areas studies:
Mays (Liverpool 1950's)
Morris (Croydon 1957)
Rex and Moore (Birmingham 1967): "Housing classes"
See also Education: Pupil Subcultures
A.Cohen - Status Frustration)
P.Willis: Learning to Labour
D.Hargreaves: Social Relations in a Secondary School
W.Miller (Focal concerns of working class youth)
Anomie and Subcultures:
P.Woods (anomie and pupil subcultures)
Legitimate and Illegitimate Opportunity Structures
(Cloward and Ohlin: Criminal, Conflict and Retreatist subcultures).
Delinquency and Drift(Matza): "Guilt" and Techniques of neutralisation.
Feminism(be aware of varieties / differences)
Women as oppressed group / sex class
Legal and status equality
See: Social Distribution of Crime
Interactionist(Social Constructionism): How is reality socially constructed?
Deviance is not a quality of behaviour. Rather it is a quality of how people react to that behaviour (Becker). Deviance = relative concept.
Anti-positivist (there can be no universal causes of crime)
Labelling Theories: (Becker, S.Cohen, Lemert)
Mead: Self development: The "I" and the "Me"
Cooley: The "Looking Glass" Self.
Meanings and Negotiation
Master labels (Becker)
Deviants as "victims of a labelling process"
Primary and Secondary deviation (Lemert)
Deviancy Amplification System (Wilkins)
Examples: Cohen (Folk Devils and Moral Panics); Young (Cannabis users); S.Hall (Mugging)
Moral entrepreneurs (individuals / interest groups - media)
Labels: stickiness, rejection of, negotiation and re-negotiation.
Traditional / Instrumental Marxism:
Criminals as underclass ("social scum": appropriators of surplus value)
Law: reflects interests of ruling class:
Economic contracts / regulations
Power (how laws are created and selectively applied)
Ideology: how ideas about law. Order, crime etc. are manipulated.
Neo-Marxism: Subcultural: e.g.Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies:
Resistance(symbolic): Hall and Jefferson. P.Cohen (Mods)
Style (and its meaning)
Ethnic and gender subcultures in addition to class and youth (e.g. McRobbie and Garber)
Neo-Marxism: Radical Criminology ("Left Idealism"):Early 1970's
Taylor, Walton and Young (UK), Hall (UK), Quinney (USA)
Deviants as "romantics" / "outlaws" (challenge bourgeois hegemony)
Fully Social Theory of Deviance involves understanding of:
Cultural and Subcultural factors, the deviants' meanings, social reaction, deviant's reaction to this, outcome of the "reaction to the social reaction".
Corporate and environmental crime (white collar criminality). E.g. Chambliss
Relative autonomy of State
Hegemonic role of ruling class
Social class / class struggle
Neo-Marxism: New Left Realism (1980 / '90's)
Lea and Young ("What Is To be Done About Law and Order")
Critical of "Left idealism" / "Left Functionalism" (e.g. Radical criminology)
Official Crime Statistics broadly reliable and valid
3 major concepts:
Local crime surveys (e.g. Islington)
New Right Realism
New Right Realism(a "realistic" approach to crime control)
Control Theory(e.g. Reckless (1956), - related to Functionalist theories of crime (Community, Social Solidarity, Integration, etc.)
Hirschi(1969): Strength of social bonds:
Attachment, Commitment, Involvement and Shared Beliefs
1980's / 1990's: Radical Right / neo-conservatism
Wilson ("Thinking About Crime"): Positivist methodology: Focus on:
Creating conformity to moral values (informal social controls)
Visible, street, crime
Increasing chances of criminal being caught (more police, etc.)
Cost / Benefit analysis(rational assessments by criminals)
Libertarianism - self-policing of white-collar, "victimless", crimes, etc.
Decriminalisation of non-violent crimes
Van Den Haag ("Punishing Criminals", 1975): Poor most likely to break law, therefore, should be policed more closely. Objective = deterrence.
Situational Theories: e.g. Gough and Mayhew. (cf. Ecological theory)
Develop ways of making crime "more difficult": Make people:
More aware of opportunistic crime (e.g. advertising campaigns)
Aware of how physical environment encourages / deters crime
Social ControlFormal and Informal
Social control involves:
Agencies of control: Formal (e.g. police and courts), Informal (e.g. Family)
Power: to create and enforce ideas about normality / deviance
Authority: aspect of power relating to legitimacy
Ideology: ideas about deviance / non-deviance
Informal controls - types of positive and negative sanctions
Formalcontrols (laws, written rules) - types of positive and negative sanctions
Involves standardised responses to clearly-defined norms
S.Cohen: Changing nature of formal controls:
Increased differentiation and classification of criminals
Increasing segregation of criminals (physical / psychiatric)
Punishment shifts (away from physical torture / degradation)
Increased State involvement (rationalisation / bureaucratisation)
Consensual (Community style)
Conflict (Military style - e.g. Northern Ireland)
Experts (e.g. social workers)
Technology (e.g. video)
Community (e.g. Neighbourhood watch)
Unequal application of laws (police discretion / labelling theory)
Institutional racism and sexism
Differential arrest rates (cf. Social distribution of crime etc.):
Agencies of social control: Revise examples relating to following:
The State (government)
Police and Judiciary
Mass Media (cf. Deviancy amplification / Moral panics)
Medical profession / social workers (medicalisation of deviance)