Through 50 interviews, Becker researched how marijuana users are labelled as deviant, even though their motive is simply pleasure. The labels others attach make the activity deviant, which leads to alienation and a deviant career. Whether it is labelled as deviant or not depends on each society, in the UK it is illegal, whereas in Spain it is not. Police brutality, also shows how crime is socially constructed and how people’s labels, even within the same society, can vary. For example, black people make around 4% of the UK population, but 12.70% of those who are tasered by the police. Police may label black youth as criminal, whereas movements like Black Lives Matter may label the police as criminal, and those who are targeted as innocent.
Question: Write a social sciences essay based on a documentary or film. Explore how deviance and/or crime are presented in this text and relate your findings to the various sociological perspectives and theories studied in class.
This particular work will consist of a critical theoretical review and a comparative analysis on two criminological theories. For the comparison I have chosen Marx’s theory of crime and Merton’s strain theory of deviance. My critical comparison analysis will emphasise the central concepts and arguments within both theories and how each theory explains crime. The analysis will then explore modern day studies in which have stemmed from these theories as well as explore the many similarities and differences between these two theories. Exploring the strengths and weaknesses in both approaches and concluding that although both theories are
Strain theory and New Deviancy Theory (NDT) are mirror images of those above. Strain theory understands human nature to be socially constructed, where, committing a crime is produced by society not from individual instincts, favouring a deterministic perspective but also recognising that individuals rationalise from inside their determined position to achieve their aspirations. However, methods of innovation, ritualism, retreatism, or rebellion are not included under human rationality. Combining voluntaristic and determinacy is a main feature in NDT, although, they argue that while individuals are born free, they lose their agency in societal frameworks that manage behaviour; the state. The problem with this is that it ignores class conflict and therefore denies the basic causes of crime.
Criminologists have long tried to fight crime and they have developed many theories along the way as tools to help them understand criminals. In the process of doing so, criminologist have realized that in order to really understand why criminals are criminals, they had to first understand the interrelationship between the law and society. A clear and thorough understanding of how they relatively connect with criminal behavior is necessary. Therefore, they then created three analytical perspectives which would help them tie the dots between social order and law, the consensus, the pluralist and the conflict perspectives. Each provides a significantly different view of society as relative to the law. However, while they all aim to the same
The concept of ‘crime’ is something that depends on time, place, and other influences. For this reason, researchers have been trying to get criminologists to rethink their definitions of ‘crime’ and consider the idea of ‘social harm’ which could help better explain the causes of human suffering and the definitions of ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’ and broaden the application of criminal justice. What this rethinking can do for criminologists broadly is give them a broader picture of human psychology as well as the range of harms that individuals, communities, or whole societies experience. In this context this can include crime in the sense of activities of individuals as well as government and institutions.
This essay will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of sociological explanations of crimes with links to Durkheim’s anomie theory, Merton’s strain theory and the Labelling theory which will draw upon different academics that will highlight these specific areas of research. In sociological terms, crime is a social concept as it does not exist as an autonomous entity, but it is socially constructed by people. It can be analysed that sociological explanations of crime attribute deviance to various aspects of the social environment. For example, crime is strongly related to modern city life where this type of social environment creates cultural enclaves which results in producing criminal or deviant behaviour (Carrabine et al, 2014).
There is debate whether youth crime is really a problem to society or just an issue that is constructed by society. It is argued that media has influenced society’s views on this matter by categorising young people as ‘folk devils’ (Banks, 2013). Certain groups, episodes and people that pose a threat to society’s values is when a moral panic takes place (Cohen, 1972). For example, this can be seen nowadays when there is no actual threat but old people get intimidated when they see large groups of young people hanging about on streets. These influences led to policy change, increasing the level of social control. This means that youth crime may be perceived as a moral panic rather than an actual problem.
The legal definition of crime is “an act of violation of a criminal law for which a punishment is prescribed; the person committing it must have intended to do so and must have done so without legally acceptable defence or justification” (Walsh & Hemmens 2008:2). Alternatively, deviance is any social behaviour which departs from that regarded as ‘normal’ or socially acceptable within a society or social context (Jary & Jary 1991:160). The underlining focus of my essay is The Criminal Justice System in England and Wales which is a key public service consisting of various bodies and individuals including: the Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Her Majesty’s Court Service, National Offender Management Services (Probation and Prisons) and Youth Justice Board.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss whether a perspective of social harm is more advantageous and useful over that of crime. In order to explore these advantages, this essay will look at the aetiology of crime from a legal perspective; which is arguably very narrow and individualistic in nature. As well as from a perspective of social harm, which is possibly more progressive as it broadens an understanding of ‘crime’ over that of many other serious harms.
Crime is the product of the social structure; it is embedded in the very fibres of society. In this essay, I aim to explore different theories as to why crime exists within society and how we as a society therefore construct it. Crime is a social construct; it is always in society and is on the increase. It is inevitable. Where does it come from? It comes from legislation, from the making of laws.
To suggest that deviancy was socially constructed – Deviancy was viewed as bas behaviour that was defined as bad or unacceptable by a powerful group of people who controlled the operations of the state, and who were able to utilise their power to stigmatise actions which they did not approve. This suggested that crime and deviance were based upon subjective considerations and value judgements.
Brym, R.J., & Lie, J., & Rytina, S. (2010) Deviance and Crime. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd Canadian Edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Toronto: Nelson
Crime and deviance are seemingly effortlessly defined by the Oxford dictionary. However sociological prospectives have differing views on crime and the explanations for it.
Outline and assess the role of the police in the social construction of crime (50 marks)