CRIME: behaviour that breaks the formal laws of a given
society. The punishment of crime will be more severe
than the punishment of deviance.
DEVIANCE: behaviour that deviates or moves or away
from norms of society. It is considered abnormal.
Deviant behaviour is considered unacceptable but
depending on the context it may be viewed differently
SOCIAL CONTROL: ensures people conform to social rules
and societies accepted norms and values. Done
through formal and informal agencies of social control.
SOCIAL ORDER: refers to the patterns and regularities in
Types of crime:
• White collar crime: middle class crime that is mainly
invisible which means many are not caught. An example
would be fraud.
• Corporate crime: large scale crimes based on companies
i.e. Bhopal disaster. May be committed against employees,
consumers, the general public or the environment.
On corporate/white collar crime
• Bonger: argued that since the capitalist system is based on greed,
selfishness and exploitation it was hardly surprising that crime was a
main feature of such a society. The system is driven on making profit
rather than human need.
• Strider: notes how governments are often reluctant to pass laws that
threaten the profitability of large companies.
• Michalowski and Kramer: says that some firms are attracted to
countries that have a weak enforcement of health and safety pollution
controls for production. This means they do not have to so strict and
can evade laws which saves them money and therefore makes more
• Box supports this saying that companies move to underdeveloped
countries in order to “dodge” the developed countries laws.
Crime is inevitable as it is based on the exploitation of the
proletariat. Alienation and lack of control may lead to
frustration and this could be the cause of crime.
Chamberliss: laws to protect private property help the ruling
class. They also have the power to prevent laws that might
affect their property and wealth from been issued.
Reiman: street crimes such as assault and theft are much
more likely to be pursued by the police than white collar
Gordon argues that this selective enforcement of the law
maintains that the ruling class stay at the stop, giving the
impression that crime is situated among the working class.
Pearce argues that when laws are passed the look to give
more health and safety in the workplace, it is actually just
to give capitalism a “caring face.” Creates a false class
consciousness and keeps the working class happy and
working for the ruling class.
Ignores individual motivation. Its highly
deterministic, rarely considering notions of
Ignores the relationship between crime and
other inequalities like gender and ethnicity.
Not all poor people commit crime
Not all capitalist societies have high rates of
Left realists argue that Marxists focus largely on
the crimes of the powerful and ignores crimes
such as burglary and murder which happens
among all classes causing great harm to victims.
Stuart Hall – “policing the crisis”. Hall argues that
the government created the scapegoats of
“young black muggers” in order to create moral
panic among the public. This took away the
attention away from economic problems and
unemployment that were current at the time.
Does not show how capitalist crisis led to moral
panic and they also provide no evidence that the
public were in fact panicking.
Left realists argue that inner-city residents fear
about mugging are not panicky, but realistic.
Taylor et al: believe that people are committing
crime in order to strive to remove capitalism
(anti-capitalist protests.) They argue that crime is
a political motive, for example to redistribute to
wealth from the rich to the poor.
Feminists say they are gender biased
Left realists argue this is romanticising working
class criminals as ‘robin hoods’ when many
criminals are simply preying on the poor. This
suggests that Taylor et al are not taking crime
Emile Durkheim: crime is inevitable and a normal
part of everyday society. A certain amount of
crime is functional for society.
Crime varies from society to society and it can be
reduced but never completely eliminated. Even in
a “society of saints” populated by perfect
individuals, someone would eventually “slip up”.
We have a “collective consciousness” of what is
acceptable and what is not. However, over time
these norms and values we all hold will change.
Functions of crime?
1. By publically enforcing formal sanctions or
punishments, collective ideas about social
morality are reinforced. Boundaries are
reinforced and existing values are reaffirmed.
When particular “nasty” crimes occur,
communities are strengthened by their
collective dislike for it (i.e. 9/11)
2. When crime occurs and sympathy for the
criminal occurs, it may prompt a debate and
signal a change in values and laws.
Other functionalist ideas...
• Kingsley Davis: some crimes can act as a safety
valves that releases pressure in order to prevent
worse things happening. He gave the example of
prostitution been a crime which prevents the
family been threatened by providing sexual
• Ned Polsky: pornography safely channels desires
away from alternatives such as adultery.
• Albert Cohen: deviances can also act as a warning
to that institutions or policies are not working
and that changes need to be made.
Some crimes have no benefits in society –
who does child abuse help?
Functionalism fails to explain why crime
happens in the first place, only gives the
functions that it serves.
It ignores individuals in society. For
example, how is crime functional for
Overall, many argue that functionalism is
Robert K. Merton. Strain refers to when people are
places in a position where they can not achieve
what they want in society – they cannot reach
the accepted goals that society sets.
He believes there is an ‘American dream’ – where
society has set ideal goals and everyone wants
and feels they need to meet them. People are
often unable to reach these goals and this leads
to strain and tension in which deviance is often
Doesn’t consider the change in norms and
values over time. Post modernists would
argue that people want lots of different things
now. (Valier, 2001)
Merton is a white, middle class man in
1930/40’s. Therefore he is limited in his views
and possibly biased against other people. This
can be seen as he ignores issues of gender,
ethnicity and age etc. and the impact these
have on people committing crimes etc.
Travis Hirschi: crime occurs when people’s attachment to society
is weakened. There is 4 crucial bonds that hold people to
1. Attachment: caring about other people’s wishes and
2. Commitment: other people’s investments and what we
have to lose from committing crime.
3. Involvement: is there more time and space for us to
commit crime deviance (i.e. The responsibility we have –
employments, friends, family etc.)
4. Belief: strentgh of belief in whether or not rules should
Evidence: Hirschi researched into the lives of 4,000 you people (age 12-17) in
California. He reported bonds with parents and teachers were more significant
when looking at involvement in crime, compared to material factors (i.e.
Committing crime like theft in order to get things they want.)
Applied control theory to areas of American social
policy aimed at reducing crime. He maintained
that policies that aimed themselves at developing
communities and bonds increased social
integration and prevented crime. This is therefore
evidence in support of control theory.
Selective view of crime that mainly
focuses on street crime (violence,
delinquency and theft.)
S. N. EISENSTADT
There is a youth stage across all societies that is universal. It is a
transitory stage following childhood and culminating in full adult
status. There are 3 functions of this youth stage:
1. Development of individual personality and self control and
2. Society shapes young adults into what it wants them to be
3. Self identity happens
In modern industrial societies, youth are given too much freedom.
Peer groups influence this and therefore young people become
isolated and segregated from the adult world.
• Albert Cohen: Status frustration: individuals experience
frustration because they cannot achieve status.
Reaction formation results from this as young men
replace societies norms with different ones that they
are more able to achieve. Therefore still achieving
some sort of status.
• Cloward and Ohlin: young delinquents become
involved in a criminal subculture where they learn from
established older criminals. There is also conflict
subculture which is gang violence which occurs due to
a lack of achievement. Therefore they do this to
release frustration. Finally, retreatist subculture which
mainly revolved around drugs.
• Walter Miller: believes there is a lower class
subculture which have normal working class
norms. They have developed 6 focal concerns:
toughness, smartness, excitement, fate, trouble
• David Matza: everyone shares subterranean
values of greed, crime etc. and these emerge
during times of stress. Young people have less
control over these values and therefore drift
between crime and deviance and subcultures
Limited knowledge as big subcultures
aren’t easy to access.
Not every criminal is part of a subculture –
i.e. Those involved in domestic violence.
It focuses on group mentality rather than
Male stream = its wrote by men about
Ignore the idea of free will
THE NEW RIGHT
• Murray: mainly blames the underclass. He
believes they don’t want formal employment,
choose short-term sexual liaisons and have
children outside of marriage. These children then
miss out proper role models and do not learn
norms and values, which leads to them
• Coleman: believes that when family bonds are
strong, there is good interaction and a good
spread of norms and bonds. However, when
there is low levels and poor family relationships
children develop poorly, leading them to turn to
• Dennis: the lack of social control is causing crime.
It is questioned whether a nuclear family is
always best as it can provide an unstable
setting – domestic violence.
Ignores the impacts that poverty has on
Post modernists: norms and values are
changing dramatically – new types of family.
You don’t need to be married in order to
provide social control.
Blames individuals for crime when society
may also be at blame too.
Rational choice theory
• James Q. Wilson
• Getting rid of poverty will not reduce crime as many poor people
do not even commit crime (i.e. Elderly and sick). Crime comes
from rational calculation of the costs and benefits of crime (will
the cost of getting caught outweigh the benefits.) Currently,
perceived costs seem low to people.
Broken window thesis
• Wilson and Kelling
• When social control is absent, anti-social behaviour and crime
spirals and areas decline. (analogy= when a window is broken in a
disused building, it leads to more damage when no repairs are
made. The area builds a reputation for crime as more people
commit crime because of the way the areas looks.
1. Zero tolerance policing – control in public places
prevents disorder and escalation by dealing with
minor issues straight away. Example: New York’s
zero tolerance policing.
2. Target hardening – CCTV, lockable windows,
security guards, street lighting etc.
3. Strengthening local communities to fight crime
(neighbourhood watch groups) and introduction
of new legal authorities. Police should be made
more visible, introduction of ASBO’s, curfews,
dispersal orders etc.
Blames individuals. The ideas are
stereotypical and judgemental.
Not all solutions are working – police receive
little respect and ASBO’s are considered as
trophies by many people.
Too much control could lead to conflict which
could create rebellion – riots.
Jones: more serious crimes happen still. Lack
of investment in areas – no parks etc. this is
what is needed.
Jock Young et al.
They explain crime through 3 key concepts, highlighting
the fact that working class, black street crime is a
problem that should not be romanticised:
1. Relative deprivation: rising crime is linked to rising
standard in the way people think they should live.
3. Marginalisation: groups who are not represented
politically or who don’t have regular employment used
violence and rioting as an attempt to be heard.
Also: there is flaws in policing including the public decline
in confidence of the police. This has led to police
having to resort to military and surveillance techniques
which alienate communities further.
• Job opportunities – work experience for younger
• Youth club and activities to occupy young
• Give the working class a voice. Give them a
chance to become involved in councils and to be
able to recommend what they want.
• Improved leisure activities and housing
• Improve the relationship between the community
and police system
• Most policies involve people
having to get involved for
themselves and a lot of people
lack this motivation.
• Not all subcultures are deviant
• Right realist: believe the policies
are expensive and not tackling
the correct things
Master status: when people are known for certain things and this is
seen as their main quality. Everyone may see you as a criminal or
• Pillavin and Briar: found that police decisions to arrest youths
were mainly based on physical cues (such as manner and dress)
from which they made judgements about the youth’s character.
• Cicourel: police officers typifications leads to them concentrating
on certain types. They hang around working class areas more
which confirms stereotypes.
• Lemert: primary deviance is when the act is committed but not
yet labelled as deviant. Secondary deviance is when the act has
• Becker: those who become labelled are treat like outsiders which
leads to them turning into their behaviour even more.
• Jock Young studies hippies who were taking marijuana but police
persecuted them and labelled them which led to them starting
their own subculture where drug taking was a central feature.
Does not explain why deviant behaviour
happens in the first place.
The person who is labelled plays little or
no role in the defining process.
People might carry on deviant behaviour
because it has rewards
Ignores victim of crime and seems to
focus on the ‘underdog’. Once again
another theory that seems romanticise