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Lecture

Crime, Law and Regulation Textbook notes covering the sociological approaches to crime, the sociology of law, and crime, risk and reguation of Canada.

7 Pages
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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 101
Professor
Barry Mc Clinchey

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Crime, Law and Regulation March-04-11 5:20 PM  Criminology: the study of causation, crime prevention, and the punishment and rehabilitation of offenders o Also the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomena  Those who adopt a sociological approach tend to focus on the societal context within which criminal law is created and applied Crime and Deviance  Crime: behaviours and actions that require social control and social intervention, codified in law  Deviance: actions that violate social norms, and that may or may not be against the law o Difficulty is how are social norms defined?  Most crimes are understood as deviant, but not all deviant acts are considered criminal  Perceptions of deviance can change  Social deviance: any acts that involve the violation of social norms o Not the act itself but peoples' reactions that make it deviant o Moral entrepreneurs: a person or institution that tales action in an attempt to influence or change the development or enforcement of society's moral code o People who act in ways that are socially deviant are subject to social controls o Informal social control occurs through interactions among individuals; includes ways in which we try to communicate and enforce standards of appropriate behaviour o Formal control is exerted by the government through the criminal justice system, social workers and psychiatrists Classical Criminology: Rational Choice Theory  Scientific approach to criminology relatively recent  To balance crime with punishment, approaches to law making and punishment were overhauled. o Approach based on utilitarianism, held that behaviour was not the force of supernatural powers but was purposeful o Beccaria and Bentham argued that if crime results in a form of pleasure for the criminal, pain must be used to prevent the crime  Classical criminology was developed on the basis of o People have free will to choose criminal or lawful solutions, and thus crime is a rational choice o Criminal solutions are seen as more attractive then lawful ones if they require less work for greater payoff. o The fear of punishment can control people's choices o When criminality is met with measured severity, certainty of punishment, and swiftness of justice, a society is better able to control criminal behaviour Biological Perspectives  Classical conception of crime later identified as positivism: the application of the scientific method to the social world  Focused on the individual, assumed that once we could distinguish features between criminals and non criminals, it would be possible to prevent, control and eliminate criminal behaviour  View came to be known as biological determinism: the hypothesis that biological factors completely determine a person's behaviour  Argued that classical school of thought's failure to locate crime was resulting in increased crime rate  Ceasare Lombroso o Italian psychiatrist, major proponent of new approach o Performed post mortem on a criminal and found that he shared skeletal characteristics associated with animals o Argued that some people are born to be criminal because of congenital factors o Criminal man could be distinguished by anomalies in hair and facial features  Association of particular characteristics with criminality continued with William Sheldon in the 1940s o Argued that there are three basic body types o Mesomorphs are extroverted, aggressive and muscular o Ectomorphs are thin, fret a lot and are introverted o Endomorphs are laid back, extroverted and soft and limp o Argued most delinquent were likely to be mesomorphs  Biological theories fail to consider the influences of environmental factors, mostly disregarded by contemporary criminologists  Biological theories now evaluating the association between violent behaviour and hormone levels  Reiss and Roth: female foetuses exposed to elevated androgen levels display high levels of aggression throughout their lives while male foetuses exposed to steroids that decrease androgen display decreased aggression  Foetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder associated with delinquent behaviour Sociological Approaches to Crime March-04-11 6:08 PM Functionalism  Argue that balancing tensions produces society  Roots in Emile Durkheim's notion of anomie o Anomie: norms are confused, unclear of not present. State of normlessness leads to deviance  Strain theory: the assertion that people experience strain when culturally defined goals cannot be met through socially approved means o Developed by Robert Merton o Argue that most people share similar goals and values, and when legitimate avenues to those goals are inaccessible, some will resort to deviant methods o Also asserted that while some people have inadequate means of attaining success, others have the means to reject societal goals. o Typology includes five social goals and the means of attaining them.  Conformity. Occurs when individuals both accept social goals and have the means to achieve them  Innovation. Occurs when goals of society are accepted, but the individual is incapable of achieving them through socially accepted ways. Most closely associated with criminal behaviour  Ritualism. When social goals are rejected but the means to those goals are accepted. Usually part of religious orders, have abandoned the goal of success  Retreatists. Reject societal goals and the legitimate means of achieving them. Try to escape lack of success by withdrawing.  Rebellion. Substituting an alternative set of goals and means. People who promote radical change or call for alternative lifestyles are rebels. o Suggested that social conditions promote crime o Robert Agnew: tries to explain why individuals who feel stress and strain are more likely to commit crimes  Focuses on the micro level and the individual effect of strain.  Criminality is the direct result of negative affective states  Illegitimate opportunity theory: the assertion that individuals commit crime as a result of their particular deviant learning environment o Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin o Agreed that lower classes are more likely to feel goal strain and become frustrated enough to engage in deviant behaviour o Found that gangs develop specific delinquent subcultures according to illegitimate opportunities in their neighbourhood. o "criminal" subgroup: activities that produce income, such as theft, extortion and fraud. Found in lower class ethnic areas o "conflict"" violent behaviour. Socially disorganised lower class neighbourhoods with few illegal opportunities. o "retreatist": consumption of drugs and alcohol. o Criticism: argued that it does not apply to today Conflict Theory  View crime as the outcome of class struggle  Goal is to explain crime in social and economic contexts  Focuses on role government plays in creating criminogenic environment: an environment that, as a result of laws that privilege certain groups, produces crime or criminality  Interested in role bias plays in criminal justice system o Argue that crimes committed by wealthy are punished more leniently  Argue that criminal laws protect interests of affluent and powerful  Richard Quinney, William Chabliss, and Austin Turk: focus on the explanation of criminal law o Most powerful groups ensure that their particular views of normality and deviance will be enacted in law, translated into public policy and protected by criminal justice system o Little empirical research supports this theory Symbolic Interactionism  Criminal behaviour is learned through interactions with others  Differential association theory: the assertion that the ratio of messages for and against criminal behaviour in one's peer group determines whether one will engage in criminal activity o Edward Sutherland o How people come to engage in criminal activity o In the end we receive an excess of definitions on one side of the spectrum, which leads us to conform or deviate o Influential in studying frie
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