Compare and contrast two approaches to defining and measuring crime and deviance. There are a number of sociological theories that explore the concepts of crime and deviance within society. Although these theories are diverse and offer differing perspectives and explanations of crime and deviance, they all agree that a social approach is required (Taylor et al. 2008). This assignment will explore the social constructivist approach to defining and measuring of crime and deviance from a functionalist and interactionist perspective with a brief overview of the Marxist perception.
Discuss the problems involved in defining and measuring crime and deviance. This essay aims to discuss the problems involved in defining crime and deviance and measuring crime. The essay will focus on the similarities of crime and deviance and discuss problems in measuring crime statistic. Crime is defined by an act that breaks the law (oxforddictionary 2013) and deviance is any behaviour that is considered out of the ordinary (oxforddictionary 2013). There are different theories on how crime and deviance are viewed.
In this essay we will assess the usefulness of these functionalist theories, and look at how it helps us explain crime. One functionalist who tried to explain crime is Merton and his strain theory, the strain theory argues that people engage in the deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means. Merton explanation combines 2 elements; structural factors- society’s unequal opportunity structure, cultural factors- strong emphasis to achieve goals and weak emphasis on using legit means. Merton uses the strain theory to explain some patterns of crime in society, he argues a person’s positioning in society affects the way they adapt or respond to the strain to anomie. Merton gives 5 different types of adaption; Conformity- the individual accepts socially acceptable goal and achieves it through legitimate means, Innovation- Individual accepts the role of success and wealth but uses illegitimate means to achieve them, Ritualism- Individual give up on legitimate goals but still follow strictly to the rules, Retreatism- Individuals reject legitimate goals and means of achieving them e.g drug addicts, the final type is Rebellion- Individuals reject existing goals and means but replace them with new one in desire to bring about revolutionary change.
‘Outline and explain ways in which data about crime is collected’ Crime can be defined as deviant activities that break the law in any particular society. Finding out how much crime takes place isn’t easy, and attempts to measure crime can prove misleading. This doesn’t mean that crime statistics aren’t affective, but it does mean that no single measure can be fully relied upon. Many sociologists see crime statistics as a social construction, as collecting crime data is a result of the cultural expectations of society, and by understanding who commits crime and what sorts of crimes are committed, we can get a clearer picture of why people commit crime in the first place. Different sociologists have presented different theories and concepts to explain what drives a person to commit a crime, and research and statistics give us an idea of the type of crimes committed and the places that they’re most likely to occur.
Many people ask, why does crime occur, who commits the crimes and why. We also ask the question of whether or not economic class, race, ect, has anything to do with why crime occurs. Theories have been conjured upon these acts to try to give meaning on why, what happens takes place. In this essay I would like to take the time to explain these theories to help others understand and maybe change their own viewpoints. Crime can affect the way individuals perceive others generally creating bias and prejudice within a person’s frame of thought; hopefully we can make someone think a little differently.
Crime as defined by Winterdyk, “is a socially constructed concept used to categorize certain behaviours as requiring formal control and warranting some form of social intervention” (Winterdyk, 2006, p. 491). Individuals that commit these criminal acts are believed to have made a specific choice in the matter. The benefits and consequences have been weighed therefore the criminal has made the choice, but what other circumstances can have a role in this decision? It is understood that social structures, social processes and human biology can all have an affect on the outcome of our individual acts. However the biological flaws of persons are not as significant as one may think.
First I would like to start by giving a brief definition of what or better said – how, criminology differs from victimology. Criminology is more concerned with the origin of crime along the extent and nature of crime. Criminology places an emphasis on studying the offender, the crimes, and the motives behind the crime. It is also the study of how the public and criminal justice system responds to the offender. Victimology plays a very important role in criminology and is used to determine what the victim’s behavior has to do with their risk of being victimized.
It does however explain why some people or actions are described as deviant, and can help in understanding crime and deviance. According to item A labelling has changed the theoretical base for the study of criminals. Becker emphasises the significance of crime being a social construct; an action only becomes criminal or deviant once society has labelled it so, and that crime can be argued to be a social construction. He introduced the concept of a master label, referring to the label which a person is given which overrides all other labels. When a person is labelled as negatively, society tends to tend them as such, and this master label often becomes internalised, and then a self-fulfilling prophecy occurs.
Sutherland’s 9 propositions Introduction: Sutherland’s theory of differential association argued that crime was the result of environmental influences on people who are biologically and psychologically normal. Sutherland created a general theory of criminal behaviour by insisting that behaviour was learnt in a social environment and social interactions. Sutherland’s differential association theory is set out in 9 propositions that explains the process whereby a person becomes involved in crime. Definition of key term – differential association: A theory that attempts to explain both the process by which a person learns to engage in crime and the content of what is learned. According to Sutherland, differential association refers to the principle that criminal acts are related to an individual’s frequent or constant exposure to antisocial attitudes or values.
My objective for this paper is to make use of criminologist theories to explain why these three individuals made the decisions to pursue a criminal career and what factors influenced them in following this path. Social Disorganization Theory Criminologists, look at many things when trying to negate what causes people to deviate from social and group norms with regards to their criminal behavior. It follows that sociologists have