Chapter 7 Text Book Notes
-For last 3 decades Canadian constantly place crime among the top 3 of the social issues that concern
- Crime in general & violent crime in particular is on the rise.
- Majority of Canadian adults feel the courts are too lenient with offenders (young offenders
-Crime simply indicates a technical violation of criminal law.
-Sociologists consider how Social Definitions, Social Relationships & Social Conditions lead to crime
events & labeling by law.
A)TYPES OF C&D (CRIME & DEVIANCE)
-Deviance – Breaking a norm (not breaking social average but a socially accepted norm/rule of
Deviant acts are punished formally & informally.
Informal Punishment – Mild – eyebrow raise, gossip, shaming or stigmatization (negatively
evaluated because of a marker of difference, distinguishing them from others EX: hair, looks,
Formal Punishment – results from breaking law(norms enforced by govt bodies EX: prisontime,
community service hours)
Types of deviant crimes classified in 3 dimensions (John Hagan)
1) Severity of social response – murder will result in severe social response such as life
imprisonment or even capital punishment, whereas wearing a nose ring brings mild social reaction
(disapproval of slight deviation from norms).
2) Perceived harmfulness – “PERCEIVED” not actual. Sexual assaults-seen as very harmful &
tattoos are regarded as harmless. EX: COCACOLA contained cocaine, now cocaine is illegal a
change in people’s perception of harmfulness.
3) Degree of public disagreement – disagreement between people. People argue about whether
marijuana should be illegal considering the fact that it also aids cancer patients with their pain &
nausea. EX: definition of murder varies across cultures & societies (killing newborns in Inuit
communities-not a crime – helps save scarce resources. A workers death at work due to safety reasons,
highly debatable, “Accidental” should the company be held responsible?)
Four types of C&Ds – (John Hagan)
1) Social Diversions – minor acts of deviancy EX: Fads & Fashions (blue hair, piercings) evoke
most mild social reactions such as amusement or disdain. Usually harmless
2) Social Deviations – more serious acts, subjected to institutional sanctions (more people agree
these are deviant acts & somewhat harmful) EX: Japanese school banning long hair that was punished
by a humiliating public haircut.
3) Conflict Crimes – deviant crimes defined as illegal by state, but in a wider society the issue is
controversial EX: tax on beard in Russia under Tsar Peter – since it symbolized russia’s past instead
of future.(classified as a crime only in Russia; harmed Russia because it represented Russia’s past)
4) Consensus Crimes – “bad” crimes, very little controversy or debate about them. Great majority
of people support punishment for these crimes. EX: a peasant sporting the haircut of a warrior (brings
social order of Japan in question, breaking the caste system rules)
THEY ALL SHOW THAT PEOPLE’S CONCEPTION OF C&D VARIES OVER TIME &
BETWEEN SOCIETIES (EX: HAIR STYLE CAN BE A MATTER OF LIFE & DEATH.)
B) POWER & SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF C&D Social Constructionism – school of sociological thought that emphasizes various social problems
including crime as not inherent in certain actions themselves, instead some people are in a position to
create norms/laws that stigmatize other people.
Power – (a position in a social relationship to carry out one’s own will despite resistance). Is a crucial
element in the social construction of C&D & so powerful groups are able to create norms & laws to
best suit their interests, & the powerless social groups are unable to do so. & so the powerless struggle
against stigmatization & if their power increases they may succeed.
Importance of power in social construction of C&D (C&D) by considering :
1) Crimes against women – women are generally less powerful than men & the law has been
biased against them. For the longest time crimes against women have been ignored, in Canada &
most other parts of the world; true even in case of rape, which is NOW considered sexual assault.
Rape involving strangers were sometimes punished, but date rapes or rapes by friends or
acquaintances were rarely prosecuted. Now the system has changed, they have more rights, and
so the social definition of crimes against women has changed with a shift in distribution of power
(giving women more power than they had and equal power in some circumstances.
2) White collar crimes – illegal acts by a person of higher status in course of his occupation.(tax,
unfair labor, false advertisement, fraud, copyright infringement etc.) victimize employees and
members of public to benefit corporation or corporate insiders. Sociologists contrast white collar
crimes with Street Crimes ( B&E, assault, robbery, etc. by people of lower class). White collar
crimes are convicted less often and are under reported. Because 1) they are done in private, and
away from police surveillance & 2) lawyers advise them on ways to bend laws and past the law.
When caught the punishment is very light. Slides, not reported, unpunished BECAUSE IT’S THE
CRIME OF POWERFUL.
C) CRIME RATES
UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) by STAT CAN, collects information from more than 400 municipal
police DEPT. across Canada on 91 categories (violent crimes, property crimes, etc). not always accurate
because they go under reported for:
1) Victim-less crime (no victim ever steps forward such as gambling, illegal drug use, prostitution etc.)
2) Assailant is a relative or family of the victim.
3) Afraid of humiliation
4) Change in legislation – creating new offences or removing existing ones.
Self-Report surveys – surveys in which respondents are asked to report their involvement wether as
victim or perpetrator.
Declining crime rates due to four reasons:
1) War against crime increase in correctional officers, and police and programs and technical
2) The high-risk offending age group (15 – 24) has declined.
3) Economy boom – decreased unemployment rates, hence lower crime rates.
4) Legalization of abortion – fewer unwanted children (those are the ones most prone to criminal
activity because of less parental supervision and guidance.)