This assignment will discuss the problems involved in measuring crime and defining crime and deviance. A crime consists of behaviour that breaks the law, e.g. Murder. Deviance is behaviour that differs from the norms and values of the wider society. Describing crime and deviance is varied across different cultures; history; social situations and place.
Crime can only be a social problem if it breaks rules in the social system. The human societies often have different minds to what a social problem consists of. There are many known definitions of social problems throughout different societies and worldwide. Criminology in the narrow sense is concerned with the study of the phenomenon of crime, and of the factors or circumstances which may have influence on or be associated with the criminal behaviour and the state of crime in general. The understanding of criminology is to see social problems and cause of the crimes and how they have affect on people in society.
According to Tappan’s (1947 p.100, quoted in Muncie et al 2010 p.4) “crime is an intentional act in violation of criminal law (statutory or case law), committed without defence or excuse and penalised by the state as a felony or misdemeanour”. In other words crime may be known as an act deliberately committed which breaches legal conduct punishable by state. This is a common understanding of crime today but unfortunately crime is not as simple as being a breach of law. The study of crime is vast and under constant debate. Crime is ever changing varying culturally, globally and historically.
I also believe that crime leads to more violence. When we talk about a criminal behaviour it usually involves violence, for example, robberies, assaults, gang conflicts, etc. So my opinion: Crime and violence breaks the community. 2. How is poverty and crime connected?
Examine the role of access to opportunity structures in causing crime and deviance. Opportunity structures are seen to be one of the biggest factors that can lead to deviant behaviour or criminal activity such as stealing and selling drugs, an example of this would be a person not being successful in their education and unable to achieve socially approved goals by opportunity structures, this may result them to illegitimate opportunities such as crime so that they get what they want such as materialists things. Mertons strain theory helps explain this, he argues that people engage in deviant behaviour when they may become frustrated and stressed this often leads to criminal means of getting what they want by taking their anger out on someone else or also taking drugs to comfort them from their failure. Merton explains that there are two elements to this theory; Structural factors, which is society’s unequal opportunity structure and cultural factors, which is the strong emphasis on success goals and the weaker emphasis on using legitimate means to achieve them. Merton argues that deviant behaviour starts from the structure of society and because they are unable to gain something from socially approved goals by legitimate means.
Further, because most hate-crime legislation puts added effort into prosecuting crimes against certain individuals or groups, what about the same crimes committed against someone who doesn't fit into one of those groups? Will the crime be prosecuted to the same extent? If not, you're making things worse for the majority, who are likely to feel underprotected. If the problem is that too many people (of any group) are being mugged, or assaulted, or their belongings vandalized, you should put more effort into prosecuting muggings, assaults, or vandalism. Not to protect any one group, but to protect all
There are many theories relating to deviance and crime with each theory illustrating a different aspect of the procedure by which people break rules and are classed as deviants or criminals. (New texts pg 138) which highlights the problems in defining crime or deviance. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CRIME AND DEVIANCE Many believe crime and deviance has developed on separate tracks over the years as criminologist serve only for legality, crime and crime-related phenomena. The study of deviance however serves for a wider range of behaviours that are not necessarily illegal for example suicide, alcoholism, homosexuality, mentally disordered behaviours. (Bader et al) The main difference between crime and deviance is deviant behaviour is when a social norm has been broken whereas a crime is where a formal and social norm is broken.
In their view, crime is caused by a combination of biological and social factors. o Biological differences between individuals make some people innately more strongly likely to commit crimes than others. E.g. Personality traits such as aggressiveness, extroversion, risk taking, and low impulse control put some people at greater risk of offending. o Wilson and Herrnstein also argue
Punishment must be specific to the crime. A murderer and a thief cannot receive the same sentence. A murder is more of an extreme offense than that of a theft, so the former should suffer more for their crime than that of the latter. Punishment also depends on how guilty the person is for the crime they have committed. An accomplice should be given a sentence but the mastermind who lead the crime should be punished more and should in turn suffer more for the crime they committed.
People being labelled (negatively) will always be affected according to their label, and society plays an important role in the labelling process. In the next few paragraphs the contribution of Becker as an exponent of the labelling perspective will be discussed along with the process of labelling and the typology of deviants. Labelling as a cause of crime According to the Study Guide (The explanation of crime), Becker shortly discussed the way different sets of rules affect the theory of labelling as a cause of crime while developing his theory. This labelling theory, also known as the societal reaction theory does not only define deviants, it can also make them. When someone is labelled an offender they are forced by society to live according to this label which could minimise their chances of being law abiding citizens and limit their chances of finding decent jobs.