SY3 * Understanding Power and Control

SY3 -Understanding Power and
Understanding Crime
• Consider ways of controlling crime and
• Consider your own perceptions of crime
• Consider some causes of crime
“an individual or group has power when they are able to get what
they want despite opposition from other people”
Sources of power
Coercion which involves the use of force. People obey because
they feel that they have no choice and that they are forced
to obey against their will.
Authority is exercised over us when we willingly obey an
individual or a group because we see it as the right thing to
do. Force is not necessary because we agree to obey.
Which have power based on coercion
and which from authority?
A mugger
Prime Minister
Police officers
Social Control –
formal or informal?
The law
The media
Government policies i.e tax, welfare or education
Domestic violence
Role modelling
The police and armed forces
False class consciousness
value consensus
Trade unions
• Which form of control is the most effective?
• In groups of 3 brainstorm answers to
questions in exercise 1 of your
booklets. You have 5 minutes!
• Now see if you can apply
sociological perspectives to
your answers
• What are they ?
Who,s the criminal ?
2. Perceptions of Crime True/False
Do Official Crime Statistics reflect
our perceptions ?
Official crime rates in the UK are
falling and surveys suggest that
as a result people feel safer than
they did 2 years ago
Young African-Caribbean
males are more likely to be
perpetrators of crime than
The white population in the UK
fear crime more than people
from minority ethnic groups.
Statistics show that males
and females commit the
same types of crimes.
A middle-class white boy living
in a rural community is more
likely to receive only a caution
for a first offence than a
working-class black boy living in
a city.
Women offenders are
sometimes treated more
harshly because of a perception
that they are ‘unfeminine’
Official statistics only reflect
around 50% of actual crimes
A woman over the age of 60 is
far more likely to fear crime
than a male under 25 yrs.
What causes crime ?
A summary of types of theory
Biological theories
• Cesare Lombroso was the first of these
• They suggest that the physical make up of
criminals is different from that of ‘normal’
• This then pre-disposes them to crime.
• Some more recent gene mapping studies have
shown certain genes may be linked to criminal
behaviour – however this is not certain.
Social Psychology
• H J Eysenck was one of the best known.
• They suggest that criminals are different in
their mental structure in some way.
• They commit crime because their social
experiences have led to incorrect thinking.
Structural theories of crime
• These suggest that the workings of society
are at fault.
• Laws and social structures create criminals.
• Marxism sees capitalism as the main
problem which leads to poverty and hence
crime. However Functionalists see crime as
a product of social consensus over what is
right and wrong – crime is seen as good for
Labelling theories
• These suggest that the reactions of people to
those who are labelled as criminal is the
• It creates self-fulfilling and a hardening of the
behaviour and does not allow people an
escape route.
• They define themselves as having a criminal
Sub-cultural theories of crime
• Criminal behaviours arise through the creation
of deviant norms and values within subcultures. Poor socialisation within families is
identified as a major cause.
• They form criminal groups with separate
values and norms from those of mainstream
society in order to attain the goals that they
desire. E.g drug dealing to gain material
wealth instead of qualifications and a job.
• These theories claim that other theories
ignore the uniqueness of criminal acts.
• It is pointless to try to explain crime with an
overall theory since every action is unique and
individuals are unique.
• The main theories are out of date in today’s
society. New technology such as CCTV and the
internet has led to different solutions and
forms of crime.
Activity and discussion
• One early sociology text, Jack Nobbs’ Modern
Society suggested some of the following as
causes of delinquency and delinquent
• Where do these following suggestions fit into
the previous categories described?
Over-identification with media
figures who are criminal
Sense of injustice at an unequal
Being misunderstood at school
Weak parental discipline
Neglected upbringing
Mental and physical inadequacy
Spoiling of children
Emotional disturbance
Low self esteem
Living in a bad area
Bad family examples
Single parenthood
Instinct of aggression
• Everyone is capable of making
mistakes given a unique set of
What would be the best theory to
use to explain these crimes
Stealing from a supermarket
Taking drugs
Credit card fraud
Domestic violence
Plenary discussion
• Free-will vs Determinism
• Do we choose to commit crimes or are we
determined by social structures?
• Which of the theories suggest free-will and
which suggest structural causes?
• A clue – biological causes of crime are
deterministic but are not sociological – they
are psychological.
3. Apply your Sociological
knowledge and reflect on your
learning in the
Plenary Squares Game