SOCB50H3 Lecture Notes - Male Unemployment, Mass Media, Conflict Theories

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9 May 2012

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Malak Patel | Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Deviance & Crime
Canadian Attitudes Toward Crime
Canadian television viewers allured to crime shows
When asked to indentify top 10 social issues that concern them, Can placed “crime” among top 3
Cans believe crime is on the rise, courts are too lenient w/ offenders, should use death penalty
Canada contains a large # of ‘bad people’ who have broken the law
Oversimplification b/c 1) the term crime simply indicates technical violation of criminal law
tells lil about his/her moral character
ex) This is the Law [TV show]
o 2) List of famous ppl who have been labelled as criminals include Martin
Luther, Louis Riel, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela
this people are now heroes for most people
Norms & laws have changed dramatically, so have the defi of crime
Sec 319 of Criminal Code: prohibits the wilful promotion of hatred against any identifiable grp or
anyone distinguished by color, race, sex orient, religion, or ethnic grp
o Any1 doing so→ punished w/ an imprisonment of upto 2 years
Acts that are right & heroic for some ppl are wrong & treacherous for others
The Social Definition of Deviance & Crime
Types of Deviance & Crime
Deviance: breaking a norm; violation of an accepted rule of behaviour
o Ex) If a man were to use a woman’s washroom, regard him as deviant
o Many deviant acts go unnoticed
o Informal punishment: mild sanction thats imposed during face-to-face interaction
Ex) gossip, shaming, stigmatization
Stigmatized: ppl are negatively evaluated b/c of a marker that distinguishes them
o Formal punishment: results from breaking laws, laws that are enforced by gov’t bodies
Ex) spending time in prison
John Hagan classifies types of deviance & crime along 3 dimensions:
1) Severity of the social response
Homicide (other serious deviance) results in the most severe negative reaction
Wearing a nose ring → less negative reaction
2) Perceived harmfulness of the deviant/criminal act
Sexual assault→ harmful; tattooing → less harmful
Not actual harmfulness, but perceived harmfulness is the issue
3) Degree of Public agreement
Whether the act should be considered deviant
Murder vs. smoking marijuana
4 types of deviance & crime [Hagan]
1) Social diversions → minor acts of deviance, harmless, evokes mild societal reaction
Ex) dyeing your hair purple!
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Malak Patel | Chapter 7
2) Social deviation → more serious acts [non-criminal], somewhat harmful, subject to
institutional sanction
Ex) wearing long hair in John Lie’s high school
3) Conflict crimes → illegal acts that many ppl consider harmful, punishable by the state
Ex) growing a long beard in early 17th cent Russia
4) Consensus crime → illegal acts that all ppl agree are bad & harm society greatly
State inflicts severe punishment
Ex) wearing samurai hairstyle in mediaval Japan
People’s conception of deviance & crime change over time
Power & the Social Construction of Crime & Deviance
Social constructionism: natural or innate features of life are sustained by social processes
o Emphasizes how some ppl are in a position to create norms & pass laws that define
others as deviant or criminal
o POWER is a key element in defining deviance & crime you are born to be a criminal!
Crimes against Women
Women are generally less powerful than men
Stranger rapes → severely punished; date rapes or acquaintance rapes → rarely prosecuted
Diana Scully’s study of convicted rapists shows “rape” situation has improved
o New Can laws have raised ppl’s awareness of date, acquaintance, marital rape
o Sexual assault is now more prosecuted
o b/c women now have more autonomy in the family, earn more, have more political influence
o feminists succeeded in changing the defi of sexual harassment
o Sexual harassment now considered a social deviation of crime
o ↑ed public awareness
Social defi of crimes against women have changed w/ a shift in distribution of POWER b/w men & women
White Collar Crime
White-collar crime: refers to illegal acts committed by a person of respectability & high social
status in the course of his occupation
o Ex) embezzlement, false advertising,tax evasion, insider trading,fraud,copyright
Street crimes: committed by ppl from lower classes
o Ex) arson, breaking & entering, robbery, assault, etc
White collar crimes are more costly to society (ex. Bre-X)
o WC crime is underreported, less prosecuted
o Police agencies not equipped/trained to process complaints abt many WC crimes
o Invisible in crime totals (Statistics Can)
WC crime results in few prosecutions & fewer convictions b/c of:
o 1) WC crimes takes place in private → difficult to detect
o 2) corporations can afford legal experts, PR firms that advises on how to ‘bend’ laws
Gov’t also commit serious crimes
o Difficult to punish political leaders
o Argue → good motives excuse bad behaviour
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Malak Patel | Chapter 7
o Ex) RCMP→ members put themselves ABOVE the law in their attempts to enforce the law
o w/e the police needs to do in order to do their jobs is ipso facto legal
In sum, WC crime is underdetected, underprosecuted, & underconvicted b/c its a crime of well-to-do
Social construction of crimes against women have changed; against WC has changed very little
b/c impossible to shift power from upper class to lower class
Crime Rates
Some crimes are more common, rates vary over place & time & among dfrnt social groups
Info on crime collected by the police is our main source of info on crime in Can
o Info collected from 400 municipal police dept
o Canada uses Uniform Crime Reporting [UCR] system
Drawbacks of Relying on Official Crime Statistics
Much crime is not reported to the police
Victimless crimes: violations of the law in which no victim is identified or steps forward
o Ex) illegal gambling, illegal drugs, prostitution communicating
Authorities & wider public decide which criminal act to report & which to ignore
Changes in legislation influence # of recorded offenses
Sometimes the assailant is a friend/relative of the victim → afraid to report it
Self-report surveys: respondents are asked to report their involvement in criminal activities,
either as perpetrators or victims
o Self-reporting surveys report approx same # as official statistics but find 2-3X the rate of
less serious crimes
Indirect measures are also used
o Ex) sales of syringes are a good index for the use of illegal drugs
Committing an act in violation of law doesn’t always result in being labelled as criminal
The process of criminal labelling → like a funnel [broad @ 1 end, narrow @ other]
Victimization surveys: ppl are asked whether they’ve been victims of crime
International Crime Victim Survey found that, on avg, 55% incidents are reported to police,
PROPERTY crimes are more reported
An offence is ‘actual’ when police investigation confirms that criminal offence has occurred
An offence is ‘cleared when police have identified an offender
If police lays a charge, it is ‘cleared by charge’
What Official Crime Rates Show
In 2003, 2.5 M crime incidents reported; crime rate was 8, 132 per 100, 000 pop
No increases in violent crime, nearly all ↑ was for other criminal code offenses
Can crime rates declined or remained stable
Crime wave began its upswing in the early 1960s, peaked & fell in the 1990s and for 9 years,
decreased each yr by an avg 3%.
Explanations for Declining Crime Rates
1. Increased policing
2. # of young men in pop has ↓
3. Booming economy
a. Variable most strongly correlated w/ crime rate: male unemployment rate
4. American researchers argue→ b/c of legalization of abortion [for US]
Social control: methods of ensuring conformity
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