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Crime & Deviance

The 'nutshells' provide concentrated summaries. Use the arrows or swipe across to explore topics in more detail, including key perspectives and sociologists.

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Topic 1 - Functionalism & CRIME

In a nutshell

Functionalists believe that crime is inevitable in society; poor socialisation and inequality result in the absence of norms and values being taught. In addition, functionalists believe crime is positive for society because it allows boundary maintenance, and allows a scope for adaptation and change.

Topic 2 - Interactionism theory

In a nutshell

Interactionists focus on the social construction of crime, whereby an act only becomes deviant when labelled as such, through societal reaction. However, not every deviant act or criminal is labelled, and labelling theory is selectively enforced against some groups. Some sociologists believe labelling may cause an individual to be defined a master status.

Topic 3 - Class, Power & Crime

In a nutshell

Marxists believe crime is inevitable in a capitalist society because it encourages poverty, competition and greed. Although all classes commit crime, the working class are largely criminalised for their actions because the ruling class control the state and can make and enforce laws in their own interests. In this instance, white collar and corporate crimes are often ignored.

Topic 4 - Realist Approaches TO Crime

In a nutshell

Right realists see crime as a real problem for society; they see the cause of it as partly biological and party social. Because these causes cannot easily be changed, they focus on deterring offenders. Left realists, on the other hand, believe crime is caused by relative deprivation, subcultures and marginalisation. Their solution for such stems from reducing societal inequality.


In a nutshell

Official statistics show men commit more crime than women, however sociologists disagree on the reasons why. Some sociologists argue female offending rates go unnoticed and unpunished because the criminal justice system treats women more leniently, through ideas such as the chivalry thesis (Pollak). However, some sociologists believe the gender differences in offending are due to the way women are socialised meaning they have less opportunity or desire to commit crime. On the other hand, other sociologists argue women do commit crime, but men merely commit more due to the idea of ‘masculinity’.

topic 6 - ethnicity and crime

In a nutshell

Official statistics highlight that black people are more likely to be stopped, arrested and imprisoned. Some sociologists argue this is because they are more likely to offend, due to poor educational achievement, dysfunctional family structure and racist stereotypes portrayed in the media. However, some sociologists they merely appear more criminal due to discrimination in wider society.


In a nutshell

The media give an overly distorted image of crime - for instance, by over-representing violent crimes. This is because the news is a social construction based on news values that explain the media's interest in crime. Some sociologists see media as a cause of crime through imitation and the deviance amplification of moral panics.


In a nutshell

Globalisation has allowed transnational organised crime to flourish - for instance, the trafficking of arms, drugs and people. We now live in a global risk society where human-made threats include large environmental damage. Green criminology adopts an ecocentric view based on harm rather than the law, and identified both primary and secondary green crimes. The state also contributes to green crime through the exploitation of health and safety laws, for example.


In a nutshell

Sociologists believe that the ability to control criminal behaviour takes several different measures - notably, it is targeted at situational crime prevention and environmental crime prevention. In addition, surveillance is another method used to control and punish criminals. Sociologists also focus on victimisation, in which positive victimology focuses on victim proneness or precipitation, whilst critical victimology emphasises structural factors such as poverty.

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