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Lecture 6

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Rhona Shaw

Social Power: Conflict Theory of Crime – Adler and Adler p. 51  Social reality of crime believes criminal law fits into a capitalist society and that crime is determined by the application of law, the behaviour patterns of those defined as criminal, and the ideology of crime. It is formulated by:  1. The Official Definition of Crime:  Def. of crime is created by people in the dominant class  Definitions conflict with interest of deviants  Upon formulation and application of crime (by police, legislators, judges, etc.), people and behaviour have become criminal  Greater amount of formulations of deviance: greater amount of crime  2. Formulating Definitions of Crime:  Crime definitions formulated by those who have the power to translate interests into public policy  Change as interests of the dominant class change  3. Applying Definitions of Crime:  The probability that definitions of crime will be applied depends on how much the behaviours of the powerless conflict with the interests of those in power  When dominant class interests are threatened, law enforcement increases  Criminalization can be a label that is affixed to people due to real or fancied attributes: “A person is evaluated not because he does something, but because others react to their perceptions of him as offensive or inoffensive.  4. How Behaviour Patterns Develop in Relation to Defs. Of Crime  Everyone acts in reference to the normative behaviour learned in relative social and cultural settings  Action taken against behaviour gives it it’s criminality  Those who have been defined as criminal begin to perceive themselves as criminal  5. Constructing an Ideology of Crime  Once a class of people has a law put in place to serve interests, an ideology is put in place to make law be perceived as very deviant (through mass media)  Social meanings attached to experiences  Images about the relevance of crime, the offender’s characteristics, appropriate reaction to crime  Conceptions are constructed by mass communication  6. Constructing the Social Reality of a Crime  Clas
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