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SOC 1500 (763)
Ryan Broll (194)
Lecture 1

SOC 1500 Lecture 1: Midterm Review

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 1500
Professor
Ryan Broll
Semester
Winter

Description
Crime and Criminal Justice Midterm Review SOC* 1500 Studying Crime ➢ The Objectivist- Legalistic Approach • Often referred to as a “value consensus” or “normative” position • Understands the definition of crime to be factual and precise • Criminologists should focus on the “rule breakers” • Core question should be “what are the causes of criminal behaviour?” ➢ Types of Law in Canada 1. Administrative Law • Form of public law • Governs relationships between individuals and the state • Examples: ▪ Labour Law ▪ Environmental Laws ▪ Licenses (liquor, drivers, etc.) 2. Civil Law • Form of private law • Governs relationship between individuals • Examples: ▪ Contracts ▪ Wills 3. Criminal Law • Form of public law • Governs threats to social order • Includes: ▪ Crimes against the person (homicide, sexual assault) ▪ Property crime (theft, B&Es) ▪ Offences that are wrong, with no obvious victim (illegal drug use) ➢ Canadian Criminal Law • Informed by objectivist-legalistic perspective • Key concepts: ▪ Actus Reus- “Evil” act ▪ Mens Rea- “Evil” mind ➢ Crime and Social Reaction • Labelling theorists argue that deviance is constructed ▪ “The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label” (Becker 1963: 9) • Social constructionism- focus on the processes through which social problems, like crime, are defined and responded to. ➢ Critical Criminology • Focus on the entire lawmaking process • Consider issues of social class, race, and gender ▪ Study the power imbalances that exist between different groups in society Measuring Crime ➢ Empirical- systematic collection of observable data ➢ Criminologists focus on two things: • Measuring crime in society • Understanding the nature of crime ➢ Primary Methods of Measuring Crime • Official statistics • Measure police-reporting crime • Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system ▪ Violent crime (homicide, assault) ▪ Property crime (theft, B&E) ▪ Other crimes (impaired driving, disturbing the peace) • UCR2 also includes data on victims and accused (gender, relationship) • Reported as: ▪ Absolute numbers: In 2014, there were 516 homicides in Canada ▪ Crime Rates: In 2014, the Canadian homicide was 1.45 per 100,000 # of reported crimes ▪ Crime rate= total population x 100,000 • Limitations of Official Statistics ▪ Less serious offences are undercounted ▪ What counts as a “crime” changes over time ▪ Not all crimes are reported to the police • Dark figure of Crime: there is a lot more of unreported crime compared to reported crime • Self-report surveys • Questionnaires that ask participants about offences they have committed • Intended to capture information about crimes that may not have come to the attention of the police (i.e. The “dark figure of crime”) • Rely on two important factors: ▪ Reliability ▪ Validity • Limitations of Self-Report Surveys ▪ Participants may not share some information/ may lie ▪ Participants may forget ▪ Representative samples are difficult to construct ▪ Can only ask so many questions • Victimization surveys • Collect information on individuals’ victimization experiences • General Social Survey (GSS) largest and most well known in Canada ▪ 2009 GSS revealed that only 31% of crimes were reported to the police! • Limitations of Victimizations Surveys ▪ It is difficult to sample the most vulnerable groups ▪ Rely on participant’s memories and, often, interpretations of whether a crime occurred ▪ Excludes data on most serious crimes (homicide… obviously…) • Observational studies • Researcher observes individuals in natural settings to gather information about crime ▪ Aka. Participant observation • Includes only a small number of participants so the research can gather a deeper understanding of crime and victimization • More valid, but less reliable, than other methods • Useful for studying hard to reach populations (e.g., sex workers, bikers) • Limitations of Observational Studies ▪ Cannot make inferences (generalizations) beyond the specific observations ▪ Researcher may be in dangerous situations Media Depictions of Crime ➢ Media Portrayals of Crime • Violence in commonplace • Sympathetic victims • CJS is “too soft” on criminals ▪ Example- Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) designation ➢ Impact of the Media • Public knowledge about crime and justice largely comes from mass media • The way crime is portrayed in the media differs from empirical accounts • Media portrayals can fuel moral panics ➢ Moral Panics • A Mass movement based on the false or exaggerated perception that some individual or group is dangerously deviant and poses a menace to society • Developed by Stanley Cohen (1973) ➢ The Characters • Moral Entrepreneurs- an enterprising person (group of people) who want to bring a particular non-criminalized behaviour under the purview of criminal behaviour, whether or not there is societal consensus on its dangers • Folk Devils- Term by Stanley Cohen in study of moral panic. Cohen suggests that society creates a gallery of social types to show its members which be emulated. ➢ Characteristics of Moral Panic • Concern • Hostility • Consensus • Disproportionality • Volatility ➢ Two examples of Moral Panic • School shootings • Teen sexting ➢ Limitations of the Moral Panic • Audiences are comprised of individuals • Media depictions are not homogenous • Too little attention is given to the medium • Pointing out that something is a moral panic often has limited effect Historical Perspectives ➢ The Demonic Era • Criminal behaviour caused by “evil” ▪ Strongly based on religion ➢ The Enlightenment • Intellectual movement that occurred in the late 1600s and early 1700s • Religious dogma and superstitious beliefs were replaced with a belief in the scientific method and rational thought ▪ Human activity determined by free will and rational thought, not spirits ➢ Magna Carta • Agreed upon in 1215 • Established basic civil liberties • Foundation of modern English law • It is an important historical document ➢ Two Early Theorists • Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) ▪ Leviathan (1651) ▪ In natural State, Humans are “Nasty, brutish, and short” ▪ Egoism is the cause of all social conflict ➢ The Social Contract • We all give up some freedoms to the state in return for protection ▪ In all agreeing to do so, we all agree to enter into a social contract with one another that leads to formation of the state • John Locke (1632-1704) ▪ Challenged conventional wisdom of the time by arguing that people are born “blank slates” (tablua rasa) ▪ Nurture, not nature, is the primary force that shapes us Biological and Psychological Perspectives ➢ Positivism • Emphasis on the application of the scientific method to the study of the human behaviour • Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species (1859)- well known example of early positivist thinking that strongly influenced the development of criminological theorizing ➢ Lombroso’s Atavism • Criminals are ‘biological throwbacks’- atavists ▪ Those who display primitive, ape-like characteristics are biologically predisposed to crime ➢ Atavists • Small and sloping forehead • Large and protruding ears • Beady eyes • Strong jaw • Bushy eyebrows • Tattoos • High cheekbones ➢ Lombroso on Female Offenders • Deceitfulness, cunning, spite • Short, dark haired, moles • Genetically male-like (“Super males”) ➢ Sheldon’s Somatotypes • Ectomorph: Thin, fragile, shy, anxious, introverted • Endomorph: Heavy, short, complacent, social • Mesomorph: Hard, muscular body, aggressive personality ➢ XYY Syndrome • Possession of an extra Y chromosome believed to be cause of uncontrollable aggressiveness in “super males” ➢ Psychological Theories of Crime • Modern theories generally contend that criminals are made, not born • Contrast with biological theories ➢ Freudian psychoanalytic Theory • Human psyche consists of: ▪ Id: primal urges, unconscious biological drives ▪ Ego: reality principle, keeps id urges in check ▪ Superego: social conscience/ moral code • Criminal behaviour results from unresolved psychological conflict ➢ Social Learning Theory • Aggressive behaviour is learned • Bandura’s (1973) Bobo doll experiment ▪ Observing aggressive acts leads to aggression ➢ Media Violence • Consumption of violent media (movies, video games, music, etc.) leads to increased aggression and violence ▪ Position supported by American Academy of Pediatrics and American Psychological Association • Or does it? Classical Sociological Perspectives ➢ Sociological Theories of
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