soociological expl

Read the following. What possible social causes of crime can
you identify in the passage?
A local housing estate has developed a bad
reputation for crime and violence in the local
The area is one of low rent private houses and
council housing. Many people who live on
benefits are in the area and incomes are
generally low, even if people work.
There is little work available locally; most of the
jobs are for women who are employed part
time as cleaners or in supermarket checkouts.
Many of the families have only one parent,
usually women who bring up their children on
their own.
The local school has a poor reputation and
less than half of the pupils get five good GCSE
The police patrol the area regularly and they
target gangs of young people who gather in the
play area to drink and chat.
What are sociological
theories of criminality?
Unit 1 – Assessment Criteria 1.3
Describe sociological theories of criminality.
Assumptions of sociological
theories of crime
• Crime is caused by the impact of society on
individuals who form part of society.
• There are dynamics within certain social groups
that lead individuals to choose a criminal solution
to their problems.
Marxism and Crime
• Crime is a reflection of social inequality.
• Society is in conflict based on social class – inclusion should be forced
as social changes should be forced
Key Thinker - Willem Bonger;
• Crime is caused by an unequal society. Poor people live in miserable
• Poor people commit crime to survive.
• People with power punish the poor more harshly than the rich.
Marxism and Euthanasia
• They help their loved ones commit euthanasia as they see them in
• They can not afford the best care and the best doctors to help ease
their pain and so they are driven to crime. This is due to society being
• It is classed as a crime as law is dictated by the rich and they would
not find themselves in this situation. It is the elites values that are
dominant in society.
Functionalism and Crime
• Society is organic – it will develop naturally at its own pace – change
does not need to be forced.
• Crime has a function – what might some examples of this be?
• Crime confirms societies values
Key thinker: Durkheim
• Crime occurs as a result of individuals not being sufficiently integrated into
• Criminals do not adhere to society’s norms and values
• Whilst a small amount of deviance is potentially functional in that it
reaffirms society’s norms and values and has the potential to prompt
social change, too much deviance could lead to a state of anomie
(normlessness and confusion)
• Punishments act to reinforce values (thus maintaining the consensus)
Key thinker: Merton
• Durkheim’s idea of anomie is too vague
• For Merton, it is a lack of opportunity that leads to criminality
• Crime occurs when an individual has a goal but lacks the means to achieve it
• This places them – and wider society – under strain (which is why Merton is associated
with Strain Theory)
Merton’s Strain Theory is often linked to the notion of the ‘American Dream’ – the popular
consensus that exists in the USA around material success.
Functionalism and Euthanasia
• Euthanasia as a crime is constantly being challenged and questioned.
This has led to the consensus of it being wrong becoming fractured. It
is not broken yet but if it is to become so it will do so naturally. It does
not need to be forced
• People commit Euthanasia as they see their loved ones unable to
reach their goals.
What makes an action criminal?
According to Interactionists, crime depends on the situation rather
than the action and it is how people respond that creates crime.
You are naked in your bathroom.
You are naked on a naturist beach in Greece.
You are naked in the middle of a shopping mall on a Saturday.
Interactionalism and Crime
A form of labelling.
• Based on the idea that an observer’s beliefs of expectations about a person or group
influence their social interactions, and therefore elicits or creates the expected
behaviour. (Merton, 1948).
A form of stereotyping
• The observers beliefs are based on their schemas or stereotypes relating to that group or
• They will tend more to notice, and even seek behaviour that conforms to their
expectations, and ignore that which doesn’t.This then acts as reinforcement of their
opinion. (Selective social interaction).
• When observers expect anti-social behaviour, they
confirm expectations and seek confirmation in behaviour.
• The observed will then behave in anti-social ways due to the
encouragement provided for it, their negative self-belief (that
they are not capable of better behaviour).
• The pressure to conform to expectations, and the feeling that any
pro-social behaviour is ignored means any effort to change is
Howard Becker
• All people commit criminal acts, but only
some people are caught.
• This results in some people gaining a label as
a criminal. This label becomes part of their
identity, so they commit more crime.
Interactionalism and Euthanasia
• Research Daniel James and his Euthanasia Journey applying this
theory of labelling.
Do you think crime is caused by
poor socialisation?
Do you think criminals should be
punished severely?
Do you think criminals are selfish
and wicked people?
Do you think there is a decline in
moral values in our society?
Right Realism and crime
• If you found yourself agreeing with the points on
the previous five slides, then you probably side
with a view of crime known as Right Realism.
• This is a view of crime that is taken by the
Conservative party in the UK and the
Republicans in the USA.
Charles Murray
Murray says:
• There is a moral breakdown in
• There is a growing underclass of
• There is more opportunity for
criminal behaviour
• Some people choose criminal
• Communities are breaking down
• These factors lead to more crime
and criminal behaviour.
Right Realists - Euthanasia
• Zero Tolerance policy
Independent study
• Find out more about Charles Murray and
the Right Realists
Do you think crime is a serious
problem in our society?
Do you think communities should be organised
in such a way as to prevent crime?
Do you think prison is generally
ineffective and pointless?
Do you think the cause of crime is an
unjust and unequal society?
Do you think that vulnerable people are
most likely to be victims of crime?
Left Realism and crime
• If you found yourself agreeing with the points
on the previous five slides, then you probably
side with a view of crime known as Left
• This is a view of crime that is taken by
criminologists and sociologists.
According to left realists, when
studying crime, all of the following
are inter-related
Jock Young
Young says:
• Crime is a real
problem in society.
• Crime is caused by
social inequality.
• Some areas of society
are over policed
(young people),
whereas others are
not controlled at all
(white collar crime).
Jock Young
Do your own reading
• Look at what Jock Young says in his own
words, there are articles written by him on
this site:
Independent study
Find out more about Jock Young and the
left realists.
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