SOC209H5 Lecture : lecture one

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What is crime: a breach of law, defined as a strictly legal term. No act is considered criminal until it is defined that way by the criminal justice system: behaviour which breaks the law. The act must be criminal at the time. The act must be legally prohibited at the time it is committed (slide) Legal definition of crime is limited: what is a crime will depend on sociological focuses. When we adopt a sociological concept we talk about it being relative: What is crime? (sociological approach: narrow legal definition of crime, the concept of crime is relative, crime reflects economic, social, cultural and political realities in society, processes of criminalization. Laws are unstable and shifting and so are the legal definitions. Crime is a social construction; not a universal sign or fact. 25 years ago yes, but today we have self defense laws. Self defense, mental illness etc don"t assume it"s a crime until we ask several questions.

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