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Daily Academic Sociology Questions and Answers with Mwiinde Laison

by Mwiinde Laison
13 Aug 2017 at 18:50hrs | Views
Question 
Discuss the contributions sociologists have made to the understanding of crime and deviance [25]

Comment overview

The question is broad hence caution should be applied when answering such questions. Students should desist from being general and descriptive. Since the question is discursive, students should be able to the debate style of writing. After supporting each sociological explanation (theory) students should also criticize it aftermath before introducing a new point. Thus each theory should be criticized in its paragraph after supporting it.

Suggested Answer

Crime is actions which break the law in the country and individual is in or "crime refers to those actives that break the law of the land and are subject to official punishment" (Haralambos and Holborn 2008). Deviance is closely related to crime but refers more to the cause of such crimes "deviance consists of those acts which do not follow the norms and expectations of a particular social group" (Haralambos and Holborn 2008). This essay will be discussing both crime and deviance in relations to the causes of this, specially biological theories which suggest that a criminals is predetermined by the genetics to be criminals and the opposite theory which is it's , mental or psychological factors which cause crime and deviance, the essay also includes counter arguments to both these theories. Also being discussed will be crime statics and how accurate these are and some issues with these statistics and crime and the media will be discussed and the impact media has on the public perception of crime. Also the sociological theories of functionalism and Marxism will be discussed in particular, the functionalist perspective that deviance is essential to society and the Marxist view that deviance is a result of the economic environment.

Physiological or biological theory's is that some individuals are more likely to be involved in crime and deviance because of their genetic makeup and that they have inherited these qualities. Most of these theories were developed in 1800's when some scientific explanations of crime and deviance were developed, one argument was that perpetrators of crime were more primitive humans and things such as large jaws and large ears could be indicators of criminals. Criticisms of these theories are with the development of science there are very limited scientific evidence of this theory. Another critique is that behaviour that may result from biological causes does not necessarily lead to criminal acts and there is little link between biological factors and crime.

Psychological theory is that they define deviants as different and abnormal from the rest of the population, but also see the deviant as someone who is sick and in need of help rather than someone who is bad. Psychologist John Bolwby believed that deviance was not inherited but was the result of early childhood and a lack of maternal bond. Bowlby authored a book on this subject ‘Forty-Four Juvenile Thieves' and said that "children needed emotional security during the first seven years of their lives" (Haralambos and Holborn 2008) and that the best way to achieve this was through consistent contact with their mother, otherwise they were at an increased risk for crime and deviance and even a psychopathic personality could develop. Many sociologists have disregarded these theories because of the methods of study and because the lack of cohesion within the psychological community on the development of personality characteristics. Another criticism is the issue of the effect that childhood has on an individual for the rest of their lives, many sociologists believe that an individual is not doomed because of what happened in their early life, but believe that other factors later in life can also affect an individual.

The functionalist perspective on deviance is that society as a whole is responsible not just the individual. Some functionalist even argue that, "deviance is a necessary part of all society's, and that it preforms positive functions for social system" (Haralambos and Holborn 2008) this is because functionalist believe that crime kin inevitable and is generated by society itself. Deviance is only harmful to society when its rate is too high or too low and that deviance can be a catalyst for social change and this can in turn lead to society's progressing. What the functionalist theory seems to ignore is the negative effects crime can have on the victim and the criminal and who the laws which are the outcome of deviance benefit.

Traditional Marxists view on deviance is that deviance is a result of economic factors and the proletariat's are forced to commit crime to survive and most laws are there to protect the bourgeoisie's property and that in a communist society there would be no crime. The problem with this perspective it is a rather simplistic view and there are many factors that influence crime, not just economic factors and this is ignored by the Marxist's. Another problem with this perspective is that in a communist society there would be no crime; but history has shown that this did not work in the USSR,China or Cuba.

Police, courts and other government agency's provide the statistics which is the basis for many theories of crime. In the UK there is a constant pattern of who commits crime and in what area. The official statistics report that members of minority's as well as young men are most likely to be involved in crime. Many sociological accept the statistics as valid data, but there are some problems with this. Firstly there is a large number of unreported crime that will never make it into the official statistics, so the official statistics cannot be regarded as the complete picture. Another issue is that some official statistics have been accused of bias, there have been self-report studies by the criminals that suggest they may be a bias against working class criminals, whereas middle class criminals tend to get lesser sentences and better treatment The perception of crime has been greatly affected the media, although overall crime has reduced, the reports of crime in the media has greatly increased. And sociologists have found the people's fear of crime is directly related to how much time they spend watching TV of listening to the radio. An example of this is "between August 1972 and August 1973, sixty events were reported as ‘muggings' in the national daily papers" (Haralambos and Holborn 2008) and many stories of dramatic muggings were highlighted in the press and it was quoted that there was "a 129 per cent increase in muggings" (Haralambos and Holborn 2008) in fact there was no such crime detailed in the crime statistics, so how could it increased when official there was no such crime. This shows how the Media can over exaggerate and even fabricate statistics, causing fear form the public. Another example of media affecting the public view on crime is that of crime by black offenders, crimes by black offenders were widely reported in the media, but other factors other than the criminals race were not, factors such as unemployment and social factors were not reporting leading some members of the public to believe that the problem was the criminals race and disregard other factors.

There are many misconceptions about crime and deviance, mainly in the factors which cause these problems. The problem is that common ideas of who commits crime and why and how often is often misunderstood because of media attention and misleading official statistics. Another debate is where it is biological or psychological factors which are the cause of crime and deviance and most sociologists would say neither, as even though in early days of sociology is was widely believed that is was biology which effected crime and deviance with advances in science is has now widely been dis proven. And psychologically factors are thought to be more complex issues rather then it just being a result of early childhood

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