Sociology - Crime and Deviance - Feminists

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Feminist view of crime and deviance

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Sociology - Crime and Deviance - Feminists
1 Male dominance in society is reflected in a male dominance of mainstream theories of crime
2 Heidensohn - why women are ignored in the study of crime
2.1 Sociology was dominated by men, who tended to accept stereotypical ideas about females
2.2 Those who did try to study it struggled to find useful examples
2.3 Male sociologists were attracted by the apparent glamour of some male deviance, of gangs, drug taking etc, and would have had difficulty in gaining access to female groups and subcultures even had they been interested.
2.4 All these early theories of crime can be undermined by asking how they would account for females.
3 How Much Female Crime?
3.1 Official Statistics = show that men commit five times as many crimes as women
3.2 Some believe that women are better at concealing evidence of crimes they have committed.
3.3 Self Report Studies tend to show that men do commit more crimes, but that the ratio is considerably smaller - more like 1:2 male crimes for every female one, rather than 5:1.
3.4 Box suggests that for serious offences the 5:1 ratio suggested by official statistics is accurate.
4 Treatment by the Criminal Justice System
4.1 It is possible that the low numbers of women in the official figures may be the result of different treatment by the police and courts.
4.2 It has been suggested that there is a "chivalry factor" which leads to leniency towards women; the police may be more likely to caution than to charge, the courts to acquit or impose lesser sentences.
4.3 There is often the assumption that females involved in crime are likely to have been "led on" by a male companion.
5 Why do Women Commit Less Crime than Men?
5.1 Heidensohn suggests a set of factors relating to differential social control, explains why women conform more.
5.2 Females are socialised differently; the roles which girls learn stress caring, softness and attractiveness and are less likely to lead to potentially deviant behaviour than male roles which approve aggression and toughness.
5.3 The crimes which women commit do seem to be related to female gender roles; shop lifting to the role of mother and provider and prostitution to the role of sex servant.
5.4 Heidensohn argues that women, being subject to greater social control, have fewer opportunities for crime.
5.5 They are less likely to be in occupations where white collar crime is possible, and many public spaces have greater danger and difficulty for women than for men.
5.6 Lees has shown how what teenage girls can do is constrained by the negative labels they can acquire among peers by transgressing even in small ways.
6 Why do some Women Commit Crime?
6.1 Carlen carried out research with female offenders. Her respondents had rejected or not entered into the "gender deal". Patriarchal ideology promises women a satisfying life through bringing up children and supporting a husband - being a good wife and mother.
6.2 Carlen's women had rejected there roles, sometimes because of very negative experiences of family life as children. In doing so they escaped a powerful area of social control, raising the possibility of offending.
7 Strengths
7.1 A new focus on female offending and the experiences of women in the criminal justice system.
7.2 The application of existing theories, criticisms of them, and the development of new theories, to explain female deviance.
7.3 A new focus on the various types of victimisation suffered by women, particularly from male physical and sexual violence, including rape and domestic violence.
7.4 A challenge to the popular misconception that women enjoy "chivalry" from the criminal justice system, and are treated more leniently than men.
7.5 An important new focus on gender and gender identity issues in explaining deviance, and the adaptation of existing theories to refocus them on gender rather than simply offending - feminist have raised questions in control theory, for example, concerning how men and women experience different levels of control, and in labelling theory concerning why female offending carries higher levels of stigmatisation than male offending.
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