Outline and assess the role of the police in the social construction of crime (50 marks)

1735 Words Oct 5th, 2013 7 Pages
Outline and assess the role of the police in the social construction of crime (50 marks)

Social construction refers to the way in which crime and deviance in society might be created and shaped by society and social institutions. This can occur in a number of different ways. For example, they can influence public perception and definitions of what establishes crime and deviance, deviants or non-deviants. They can also influence the amount of crime in society by amplifying it therefore clamping down on it. They can add pressure for changes in legislation which can then alter definitions of crime and can criminalise activities previously regarded as legal. They can also influence the extent, trends and patterns of recorded crime in
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A final component of masculinity was suggested by Graef. He noted how most police officers are male and drawn from the working class. Their culture therefore ultimately reflects traditional working class values of heavy drinking, physical prowess and heterosexuality. Racial stereotyping is also heavily emphasised and linked with assuming the role of the police officer.

Cicourel attempted to discover what deviance is by examining the way in which some acts and individuals become defined or labelled as deviant. Cicourel therefore looked how a young person is defined as delinquent. The first stage is a police officer deciding to stop and interrogate the individual based on meaning held by the policy about what is ‘suspicious’ or ‘unusual’. These can be related to particular geographical areas for example. If the individual portray themselves as the ‘typical delinquent’ in ways they speak and in their demeanour, they are more likely to be arrested. The second stage applies if the young person has been arrested, resulting in being referred to a juvenile (probation) officer. The suspect’s background is then looked at. Coming from a ‘broken home’ and showing bad attitude towards authority are factors that would increase the likeliness of them being charged with an offence.

Cicourel identifies how social classes can alter the way the juvenile probation officer would consider their choice of action. When a middle class juvenile is