Crime is inevitable: Durkheim
said not everyone will buy into
society's values and norms.
There will always be people
who deviate from norms and
Durkheim said that crime in society isn’t
genetically produced, but is natural in
society. However, he did say that too
much crime was dangerous in a society,
and this is an idea Merton developed.
Crime works as safety valve: Cohen
said that “prostitution performs
such a safety valve function
without threatening the institution
of the family”, this is because he
believed this crime of prostitution
could relieve the stress in a
discrete way without damaging the
rest of the clients life.
Crime works as a warning
device: Clinard said this is
because the crime indicates
that there is an aspect of
society that is
malfunctioning. So the
crime draws attention to the
problem within society,
which can then be fixed.
Durkheim and anomie:
1. Conformity – Members of society conform to
the norms of the rest of society (in this case
the need for material goods) and try to
achieve success through the normal means
(work hard at school etc.)
2. Innovation – People who feel that they
cannot possibly achieve through the normal
route try new ways of making money, in
most cases this is a life of crime
3. Ritualism – People who feel they can’t achieve
because they have few job prospects, but also can’t
turn to innovation might lower their goals and
aspirations. This is considered deviant because they
have rejected society’s norms and values by creating
their own lower goals.
4. Retreatism – People who cannot possibly
earn success and feel there is no way to
do so might retreat from society, or ‘drop
out’. They resign to failure and often turn
to alcohol or drugs abuse.
5. Rebellion – People who cannot
succeed but do not want to just admit
defeat might rebel and try to create
their own society with new goals and
Status frustration: Cohen stated that lower
working class boys want to aim towards
mainstream success thats valued by most
of society but because of failure in
education they are faced with status
These groups create
their own norms and
values and high
values are placed on
things such as
vandalism which are
Cloward and Ohlin: developed Cohen’s
theory. He said that there are three
different types of subcultures that
young people might enter into; criminal
subcultures, conflict subcultures and
Criminal subcultures tend to emerge in areas
where there is a lot of organised adult crime, here
there are criminal role models for young people,
and they learn how to commit criminal acts. In
these subcultures the young people can climb up
the professional criminal ladder by committing
more crimes. These subcultures are normally
concerned with utilitarian crimes, which yield
Conflict subcultures tend to emerge in areas where
there is little organised adult crime, so instead of
learning how to commit serious monetary crimes the
young people instead focus on gaining respect
through gang violence.
Retreatist subcultures are for young people who
have even failed in the criminal subcultures, these
people are ‘double failures’. They tend to retreat to
drugs and alcohol abuse to deal with the fact that
they have been rejected from other subcultures.
Focal concerns: Miller said that the lower class
have different norms and values altogether.
There are 3 concerns they aim to achieve
Toughness – Miller said that people within the
lower-class subculture value toughness as an
important trait; however this can manifest itself
in assault and violence.
Smartness – This culture also value the ability
to outfox each other. This will often lead to
people trying to con, pickpocket or steal from
each other in ‘clever’ ways.
Excitement – This culture constantly
searches for excitement and thrills.
This often means gambling, alcohol
and sexual adventures.
Howard Becker said that
society creates rules and
so anyone who acts
outside of these rules is a
deviant. Therefore the
act itself isn’t deviant, it is
how we label that act
that makes it deviant.
Interactionists would point out how in
one context, an act is considered
deviant, in another it is normal – it is
only when it is done in a way that is not
publicly defined as proper that it
becomes deviant. For example, killing is
not always deviant or criminal, during
war it is more deviant to refuse to kill.
Self fulfilling prophecy: labelling can lead to
groups being victimized for crime. E.g. the
police might label black youths as more likely to
be a criminal. So they may be more likely to be
charged with a criminal offence. Furthermore,
interactionists say this labelling can mean a
person is singled out as deviant, consequently
acting like one.
Deviancy amplification spiral: that the
public take sympathy with the way
certain groups are treated, for example
over-the-top media hatred, and this
causes some of the public to join this
victimized group of deviants. An example
of this could be that after disturbances
by mods and rockers in Clacton in 1984
led to heavy-handed treatment from the
police, and this then led to more young
people joining the mods and rockers out
of hatred for the police.
Chambliss (1976): laws in regard to property
were first set up to ensure the ruling class’
wealth remained in the family, and if any of
the working class tried to stop this they were
classed as breaking the law. This is because
the property and land were the main source
of wealth for the ruling class, so it was
important this was protected.
Chambliss then goes on to identify as our
economy changed to a capitalist model, the laws
also changed and again are enforced to protect
the ruling class.
Marxists go on to say that any laws
which are made to protect the working
class, for example anti-monopolistic laws,
are only done so to appease the working
class so they don’t figure out the injustice
in the criminal system.
Chambliss also pointed out that the
laws that aren’t passed are as
important as the ones that are. He said
that the ruling-class have the power to
ensure that no laws are passed that
could damage the position and power
of the ruling class.
Marxists say that the crimes by the ruling class
not only go unpunished but also cause many
more problems that the street crimes by the
working-class. For example, 20,000 are murdered
every year in the US, whilst 100,000 are killed by
cancer due to unsafe working conditions
imposed on the working-class by the ruling class.
This crime is neither recognised as important nor
punished, yet it causes many more problems
than the crimes of the working class.
1.The economy is the most important part of
society, and it is from this that crime is born. 2. The
capitalism is to blame for crime as it causes an
inequality in society which is the root of crime 3. If
we are to eradicate crime we must first see a
transformation of society away from capitalism.
agree with the
theory put in
place by the
Neo-Marxists say that the ruling
class label certain members of the
working class in order to gain
benefits themselves, this is called a
“fully social theory of deviance”.
During the 1970’s
incidents of mugging;
Hall said this moral
panic was built upon the
idea of collective fear of
‘an enemy within’. He
said this was because in
the 1970’s Britain
economic decline – a
‘crisis of capitalism’ –
and the government
needed someone for
everyone to blame and
rally against, uniting the
people and allowing us
to forget about the
economic issues. By
making the Black
mugger someone to
fear, it solidified a
fractured UK society
around the state.
Neo-Marxists say that this is just
one of many examples of how
social background (in this
instance you’re ethnicity and
class) can result in you being
deviant, but it is only because of
the labelling from the ruling class
that you become a deviant.
Sutherland (1949) said girls have a stricter
upbringing whereas boys are encouraged to take
risks; boys also have more opportunities to commit
crimes due to their freedom.
Parsons (1955) said in the modern nuclear family
men work and women stay at home and nurse.
Therefore young girls have more access to their
role model than the boys do as the father is
working. Parsons said the boys will reject the
mother as a role model and will seek to be more
masculine through aggressive actions, leading to
Before feminism, women were invisible in
the sociological perspective. Crime by
women was explained by saying females
criminals were a ‘special case’ and were a
result of sexual promiscuity or biological
deviance. Essentially sociology didn't accept
that normal women committed crime.
Feminists say that this ignorance of female crime
is because society is patriarchal and is focused on
men, ignoring the women. So feminists argue that
the issues that other perspectives debate aren’t
the really important ones, the biggest problem is
that women are ignored.
Carlen found, using qualitative research on Scottish sheriffs and judges, that
sheriffs were less likely to imprison women whom were good mothers but were
more likely to punish single mothers or mothers with children in care.
Jock Young, a left realist, said we need to be tough on crime,
especially crimes committed by the working class against the
Lea and Young said that crime is rooted in social
conditions and crime is closely connected to deprivation.
However, this does not mean left realists see crime as a
result of unemployment directly; this is because they
observed crime rates in the 1930s when unemployment
was very high and found them to be lower that crime rates
in the 1980s when unemployment was low.
Relative deprivation is when a
group feels deprived in
comparison to other similar
groups, or when its expectations
are not met. Young highlighted
how increased media influence
could lead to increased crime
rates, as it leads to higher
expectations so those in
deprivation feel increased effects
of relative deprivation
Young suggested that we should deal with crime by
trying to decrease the levels of social deprivation. This
could be through welfare, infrastructure improvements,
the creation of jobs etc. All of this would help reduce the
feeling of relative deprivation and therefore the levels of
Hirschi’s control theory – He said we
all face the temptation to commit crimes
in life. However, most of us resist the
temptation. This is because we have
strong ties to social institutions such as
families and schools. These institutions
lead to correct socialisation, so those
without strong links to them are the most
likely to commit crimes.
Charles Murray also said poor socialisation leads to crime; however, he
focused on why this is more common in the ‘underclass’. He said the
underclass wasn’t always those with the lowest income, but those who
act in a certain way. Murray said the underclass are subjected to several
factors which lead to crime: violence, unemployment, poverty etc. and
this leads to higher crime.
Charles Murray said one of the main reasons we have an underclass is the
increase in childbirth outside of marriage. He said this increase in lone
parent families has led to an increase in people who are lazy, violent and
immoral. So Murray said childbirth outside of marriage is a factor affecting
Realist approaches say behaviour
is determined by our choices we
make, as we have free-will. Wilson
and Hernstein said that criminal
behaviour is a choice made by
people who have been incorrectly
socialised. They argue that society
has become more and more used
to ‘immediate gratification’. They
also said that poor socialisation
leads to a lack of self-control.
Cesare Lombroso argued that criminals were throwbacks to an
earlier and more primitive form of human being. He said there
were several characteristics, such as large jaws, extra fingers
and monobrows which were clear signs that someone was a
Lombroso said that we can easily identify
who the criminals, so we should remove
them from normal society and we can
therefore remove any criminals.
Relativism; there is no such thing as
valid or invalid knowledge. 2. Death of
the subject; knowledge as control rather
than liberation. 3. Grand theories are
Lyotard (1986): Post-modernism argues that
knowledge produces people, in the sense that it
controls who we are, what we think and what
we do. The multiple realities argued for by
post-modernists are referred to as narratives
1. A change in technology and organisations,
away from a concern with ends towards which
we are meant to be aiming, and instead an
emphasis on efficiency of systems .E.g. in
education there has been a switch from the
question 'what is the aim of educating
children?',to the question 'how can we improve
the quality of the product we deliver to our
clients?' Philosophy takes a back seat to
The victory of capitalism over the predictions of Marxism. The
project of the perfect society has been abandoned. Individual
pursuit of goods and services has replaced idealism.
Baudrillad: 'The secret of theory is
that truth doesn't exist. You can't
confront it in any way.'
Criticism 1. How can you have a general theory arguing that general
theory is obsolete? This is the old problem of relativism. There is a
logical contradiction. 2. How is it possible for postmodernism to be
described as the historical epoch that comes after modernism when to
do so is to lapse into a metanarrative - the coherence of history?