SOC 1500 Lecture Notes - Social Inequality, Internal Control, High Crime
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Chapter 1: Crime and Criminology
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
- Distinguish sociological from other explanations
- Differentiate between criminology and study of deviance.
- Criminality or deviance innate to the person at the genetic, biological,
There is a deviance side of things –from the sociological perspective you talk about
the social control.
Something can be deviant but not criminal and vice versa.
Criminal behaviour is innate to that person –we are talking about pathology.
How can something be deviant or criminal if you don’t see the effect and affects of
society (Sociological perspective)?
Vs. Sociological conception
- Requires a negative or punitive response
- The matter of context
o Violence seems to be understood as wrong or against the norm of any
society but there are different contexts –some which are against the
law such as assault or murder, but it is justified in war and in sports
such as hockey.
o The same behaviour does not always get seen the same way based on
the kind of person you are. If a drug addict does something, it would
be seen as a criminal offense.
- Social control mechanisms: formal & informal
o Formal: criminal justice institution –authority that shapes our
conduct. “Official authority”. Makes sure the laws are followed. They
may change over time.
o Criminality –some believe that you cannot fix it with punishment but
instead medically with treatment.
o Even though the thing that comes most to mind and how we deal with
it is the symbols such as the RCMP that weighs on our national
identity –laws that goes with the officials. Most social control even
though we don’t think about it is more informal.
o Most behaviour is contained in our day-to-day life. Not because we are
afraid of getting in trouble but we control it because of our up
o For most of us we don’t need the law to behave but we behave
because we were brought up to avoid certain behaviours and act in a
Differentiating crime and deviance
- Not all deviance is crime –it is not all a violation of formal rules and
Objective & subjective points of view
- Opinion of what is deviant
- Subjective –constructive –does not question the law
Chapter 2: the criminal law and its
- Origin and features of the common law
o Formal law = pervasive
o Before we were involved in simpler societies and they did not have
such complex laws.
o Brings people from other societies together. The laws of behaviours
are not the same any more and they become more complicated. The
removal from more simple societies requires more complex systems
of law. We need a more secular institution of law to keep everything in
o Differences between European and American systems. There are also
differences in Quebec than the rest of Canada.
o Conflict was solved in simple societies by traditions.
Fundamentals of criminal law
- When talking about the use of law and punishment –one of the things the law
does is that it tries to be carried out fairly and in a just manner.
- They will be equally applied to everyone.
- Socially constructed nature of the law. We can all agree that no matter which
religion you follow, the ten commandments are pretty universal, however,
criminal laws are more man made and they are not all the same everywhere
are were not all the same over time. Now women have more equality. These
laws are legislated. Set of rules that are legislated –socially constructed- are
now enforced so the punishment is also part of the definition.
- Socially constructed means it needs to be put through political process.
- Politics is no more than the study and enforcement of power.
- What kinds of mechanisms take place? Power relations –think about Stephen
Harper and his rise of power. We understand politics is competing
- Overtime what is written in the books becomes modified (case laws) over
time. Law as an evolving process.
Deviance refers to more behaviour outside of the norms.
Two main types of crime:
- Consensus crimes (‘mala in se’)
o Distinguished because of the term consensus
o Consensus is commonly agreed upon
o Little dispute about criminal behaviour
o Mala in se –rooted in core values
o Predatory crimes in society –crimes inflicted on people and property
- Morality crimes (‘mala prohibition’)
o A lot more shades of grey when talking about this
o Wrong because they are unlawful not because of themselves
o Against the law to engage these activities and we have to abide by
them because it is the law.
o Reflect current community standards of proper conduct, but they also
change. The law may also be out of touch with law standards in which
case the law must catch up. It is understood that there are different