Crime and Deviance
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This option which is broken down into three key questions, focuses on debates in contemporary society through a detailed study of crime and deviance. The socially constructed notion of crime and deviance are considered. As well as this, there is an exploration of the ways in which crime is socially distributed, explained and reduced. There is a global dimension with reference to patterns and trends. This option also aims to give an understanding of different theoretical approaches to the study of crime and deviance as well as considering contemporary approaches to the reduction of crime, punishment and control.
1. How are crime and deviance defined and measured?
In this section, central concepts connected to crime, deviance and social control are introduced, defined and considered in terms of their relative meaning in the context of time and place. The socially constructed nature of crime is established and discussed looking at a number of examples of crimes which have emerged or disappeared or become redefined over time as well as cross cultural examples. This process prepares students to begin to consider how crime is measured, exploring a range of different methods, including official crime statistics, victim surveys and self report studies. Students should be able to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each method.
2. What are the patterns and trends in crime?
In this section, students explore the distribution of crime amongst a variety of different groups in society, exploring both patterns of victimisation and offending. It is a good idea to encourage students to challenge their own stereotypes of offenders and victims and begin to consider where these ideas come from. Students should understand crime and deviance in a global context considering emerging forms of global crime and green crimes as well as the challenges faced in policing such crimes.
3. How can crime and deviance be explained?
This section explores a range of classical and contemporary explanations for crime and deviance which students should evaluate in terms of their relevance to contemporary society. These theoretical explanations should be used to explain the patterns in crime identified in the previous section. This section allows students to draw links between crime and other aspects of society, drawing upon learning taking place in previous parts of the course, for example the role of socialisation in becoming a criminal (or not).
4. How can crime and deviance be reduced?
In this section, students consider the various attempts to tackle and reduce crime. These attempts are explored through left and right wing approaches, enabling students to consider each set of political ideas about the causes of crime and the subsequent strategies to reduce it. Students should be encouraged to apply these ideas to real life contemporary issues. This includes an exploration of the effectiveness of existing policies on crime, punishment and control.
The concepts of crime, deviance and social control are central to this part of the course. So it is worth spending some time exploring the socially constructed nature of crime and drawing out the difference between crime and deviance. Each topic also has its own specific concepts some of which are highly relevant to contemporary society and others which may be used more in context, perhaps in the past for example. Students should be encouraged to see concepts as central to their work and to criticise concepts and be able to provide examples of these concepts where relevant. There are also concepts which may be interpreted differently according to the theoretical perspective. For example, the ways in which subcultures result in different explanations according to Marxist and functionalist perspectives. Some concepts however are very much linked to the perspective in which they are grounded.
Students should consider the way some of the concepts they are learning about link to other areas of the course such as globalisation, the family and socialisation for example. Students should be encouraged to make these links using broader concepts such as anomie or social cohesion or dysfunction.
The following list contains some of the basic concepts for this topic. This list, however, is not exhaustive and teachers may wish to add to this list as they progress through the course:
- Social Control
- Formal and informal social control
- Crime as a social construct
- Restorative justice
- Retributive justice
- Focal concerns
- Subterranean values
- Techniques of neutralisation
- Status frustration
- Moral panic
- Corporate crime
- Deviancy amplification
- Deviant career
- Folk devils
- Master status
- Primary/secondary deviance
- Zero tolerance
- Broken Windows theory
- Displacement theory
- Situational crime prevention
- Rational choice theory
- Relative deprivation
- Gender role socialisation
- Ladette culture
- Feminist criminology
- Double deviance
- Hegemonic masculinity
- Critical victimology
- Repeat victimisation
- Positivist victimology
- Secondary victimisation
- Indirect victims
- The Criminal Justice system
- Human rights
- Green crime
- Primary and secondary green crime
- Global criminal economy
- Corporate crime
- Cyber crime
- State crime
- Moral entrepreneur
Common misconceptions or difficulties students may have
It is important that students do not generalise about the causes of crime or patterns in crime. They should also be encouraged to challenge their own assumptions about the rates and types of crime that occur. Students may not appreciate the ways in which some crimes did not exist in the past and which are newly emerging. Students must also be discouraged from thinking that there is any one explanation of crime, rather a whole range of explanations each with their own merits and problems. Students should be encouraged to engage with the concepts and be able to articulate the main views on the causes of crime, changes and continuities of crime rates as well as contemporary strategies to reduce crime. It is likely that students’ perceptions of crime will be based upon their own interpretation of news related media and it is important that they consider the content of such media to consider the ‘real’ picture of crime. The operationalisation of crime is challenging and students should be aware of this from the first section on defining and measuring crime.
Conceptual links to other areas of the specification – useful ways to approach this topic to set students up for topics later in the course
As this is likely to be the final topic taught in the specification, this section provides a very good opportunity for synopsis, to develop and apply the ideas, themes and concepts that they have learnt throughout the linear course. This may involve applying earlier ideas such as the core concepts of socialisation to crime focusing on how for example each theory would argue that socialisation may lead to crime (or not). Also, focussing on the topics and relating them to crime and deviance, for example, the New Right view that the breakdown of the nuclear family leads to deviance. Students should be encouraged to think about the ways in which sociologists research crime and deviance and they might want to evaluate studies they use in light of their methodological issues.
There are several ways in which the changing nature of crime, deviance and social control reflects broader social changes such as the changing role of women and the rise of the ladette culture. Also, the theme of globalisation runs throughout the component in relation to new forms of crime and the role of technology. These links are to be encouraged and developed. This is the point at which students are able to draw together their knowledge and build upon their higher-level skills to be able to see how the various institutions in society fit together to form society. It is worth spending time with students getting them to draw these links between the different areas of the course.
This activity explores some of the key concepts related to crime and deviance and encourages students to apply their knowledge of these concepts to different scenarios. Students should be critical of these concepts as well as learning the differences between them.
Students are introduced to the difference between crime and deviance, delinquency and social order.
Sociologists argue that what is considered to be a crime varies over time and in various parts of the world, therefore crime is not necessarily universal or agreed upon by everyone. This means that crime is socially constructed.
This activity asks students to look at some examples of the ways in which crime has become socially constructed. Students are then required to explain why the act became considered to be a crime, or why it has ceased to be considered a crime.
Students should begin to consider how crime is measured and be encouraged to link this to their methodological knowledge.
Students need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each method as well as the possibility of trying to understand crime through looking at a variety of these methods.
The sociological study of green crimes is a relatively new area within the discipline. It is no surprise therefore that there is little agreement about what constitutes as a green crime as well as there being considerable challenges in the policing (and punishment) of green crime.
This activity helps students recognise that green crime is a relatively recent field and use this as a way to increase their understanding of the socially constructed nature of crime and deviance. We begin by providing some information on green crimes and links should be drawn to other areas of the specification such as Marxism and state crimes.
This activity focuses on the way in which various sociologists explain crime and deviance. Students will have covered sociological theories a number of times before in Components 1 and 2 so they should be able to apply some of their previous ideas to crime and deviance.
The first part of this activity provides students with a range of statements which students need to sort into the correct perspective. The second part of the activity builds upon this activity to provide a basic introduction to the various theoretical perspectives on crime and deviance and finally there is an activity which requires students to develop these ideas further in greater synoptic detail.
This activity provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge on sociological theory to a contemporary issue.
Students should be encouraged to understand the issues relating to the Panorama programme entitled ‘The Bank of Tax Cheats’ in which Reporter Richard Bilton claims Britain's biggest bank helped some of its wealthiest customers dodge tax and asks why these tax evaders have not been prosecuted.
This activity introduces students to realist theories of crime.
Students should be encouraged to understand that realist theories were developed relatively recently, and that they are slightly different to other theories. It is also worth encouraging students to investigate examples of realist influenced policies in their own local community.
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