SOC 1500 Lecture Notes - Informal Social Control, Critical Criminology, Actus Reus

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Published on 13 Apr 2013
School
University of Guelph
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 1500
Professor
Chapter 1: crime and criminology
learning objectives
-distinguish sociological from other explanations
-differentiate between criminology and study of deviance
philosophical considerations
-criminality or deviance innate to the person at the genetic, biological, psychological level
Vs. Sociological conception
-requires a negative or punitive response
-the matter of CONTEXT; violence is understood as wrong but the context is important- self-
defense, war, murder, violence in hockey
-context: sociologists are concerned with the relationship of the offender and victim, i.e. abuse in
marriage
-context: social status and power; does the same behaviour get interpreted the same way with
everyone
- context allows for differences across times and places; social norms and laws that change
over times, i.e. smoking laws in hospitals, speeding is overlooked
*can’t just take for granted what deviance is, we must look at society and the reaction society
gives to deviant actions to classify them as criminality and deviance.
Social control mechanisms: formal and informal
-formal social control: criminal justice institutions, authorities that set the rules i.e. the process of
arrest; these change overtime as well (interpretation of behavior changes)
-informal social control: (most forms of social control are informal) most behavior is contained in
day to day society because of our upbringing and our socialization within our
families/communities because you feel a sense of shame or remorse in social groups when you
have done something outside the standard of behavior
*without negative reactions, crime and deviance cannot exist
Differentiating Crime and Deviance
-not all deviance is crime (a violation of formal rules of behavior) i.e. not a crime not to be on
facebook because being on facebook is the norm!
-not all crime is deviance either, i.e. speeding; it is routine
-not easy to differentiating between crime and deviance
Objective and Subjective points of view
-objective perspective; everyone can agree on criminal and deviant behavior; it doesn’t question
the law it just accepts it
-subject perspective; rather than looking at criminality as a norm violation, it looks at the law as
a human product that was subjectively constructed and questions laws
-mainstream criminology: objective approach; we need to engage in preventing crime from
happening but agrees that the law is applicable to everyone
-critical criminology: subjective approach; acknowledges the fact that laws are product of
subjectiveness raises questions like who’s interests are being served by the law
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Chapter 2: the criminal law and its process
-formal law is pervasive (universal) in our society
-origin and features of the common law; historical development of a societies law is important
Fundamentals of Criminal Law
-dark ages period; all civilized progress was disarmed, so the use of laws were taken over to
punish barbaric behavior; it became about dueling out punishment and superstition of certain
people, i.e. burning of witches, these people were looked at as connected to the devil
-common law: common in the sense that it applies to everybody; the jury system (community
influence in trials- reduces corruption)
Socially constructed nature of law- man made, set of rules that are legislated (implies that law is
socially constructed and enforced) political process power, (judges are a pointed: political
process) we need people in power like Steven Harper (pm) to hold power.
-case law: law is evolving process that is socially constructed and always changing
Two main points of crime:
1) consensus crimes (mala in se):
anything agreed upon crimes against property (capitalist society view)
2) morality crimes (mala prohibitum):
anything wrong, law is sometimes out of touch with community standards but it is still against
the law to engage in these crimes whether we agree with them or not (foreign people will not
agree for example) - difficult to enforce and a greater strain on police, etc.
Arguments in policy sphere against criminal law
Mills- harm position, does not think the state should act as a guardian
Heart- legal philosopher that argued against Mills, said that the state should serve parent role,
state should serve to prevent people from harm of them self disapprove but not legalize
Lord Patrick Devilan- conservative opinion, (worked on revisiting laws that exist against
prostitution a long time ago) he did not agree with these arguments, put together something
against these arguments yes state does have role of guardian, state should serve function of
protection by enforcing morality
Crime and Control Due to Process
- less assumption about what is right and wrong in society so whenever we talk about the law
there is a fundamental tension between rights and laws
- notion of just desserts: specify laws in order for laws to work, so people know what to expect is
they do break a certain law
-does the punishment fit the crime…i.e. lesser punishments and circumstances need to be
taken into consideration i.e. stealing food because your family is starving
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Document Summary

Differentiate between criminology and study of deviance philosophical considerations . Criminality or deviance innate to the person at the genetic, biological, psychological level. The matter of context; violence is understood as wrong but the context is important- self- defense, war, murder, violence in hockey. Context: sociologists are concerned with the relationship of the offender and victim, i. e. abuse in marriage. Context: social status and power; does the same behaviour get interpreted the same way with everyone. Context allows for differences across times and places; social norms and laws that change over times, i. e. smoking laws in hospitals, speeding is overlooked. *can"t just take for granted what deviance is, we must look at society and the reaction society gives to deviant actions to classify them as criminality and deviance. Formal social control: criminal justice institutions, authorities that set the rules i. e. the process of arrest; these change overtime as well (interpretation of behavior changes)

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