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Crime & Deviance

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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

SOC101 Feb. 9 , 2011 Crime & Deviance Karla Homolka & Paul Bernardo case v. Westray mine disaster -> despite negligence on the part of the mine owners, they were not held criminally responsible in the disaster that led to deaths of 26 miners {N.B. considered not to be all that serious, which is why we haven’t heard about it} 2/3rds more industrial accidents leading to deaths than there are homicides What constitutes murder varies {e.g. Inuit infanticide when the community unable to feed another individual, not murder?} People we consider heroes today were not considered to be deviants & criminals {Martin Luther, Jesus, Socrates, & Louis Riel} Definition of who is a criminal varies over time & place Some groups have more power to define what is crime, to punish deviance & criminals Definitions I Deviance: involves breaking a norm & eliciting a negative reaction from others. Informal punishment: is mild & may involve raised eyebrows, gossip, ostracism OR Stigmatization: when people are stigmatized, they are negatively evaluated because of a perceptible sign that distinguishes them from others. Formal punishment results from people breaking laws, which are norms stipulated and enforced by government bodies. Definitions II Social diversions: are minor acts of deviance such as participating in fads. Social deviations: are more serious acts. A larger proportion of people agree they are deviant & somewhat harmful, & they are usually subject to institutional sanction. The state defines conflict crimes as illegal but the definition is controversial in the wider society. Consensus crimes: are widely agreed to be bad in themselves. Definitions III Power: is the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his or her own will despite resistance. White-collar crime: refers to illegal acts committed by a person of respectability & high social status in the course of his or her occupation. {Price fixing, embezzlement} Street crimes: include arson, burglary, robbery, assault, & other illegal acts. They are committed disproportionately by people from lower classes. {Crimes against women; for example rape --> simple rape was considered to be rape committed by someone that the victim knew, marital rape: committed by a spouse} Women more powerful than they were in the 1970’s --> earn more, more political influence, position in family, level of education. As power increased = prosecution changed. Criminologists & sociologists believe that white-collar crime costs society more than street crimes, white-collar crime rarely convicted WHY? 1) Takes place in private & difficult to detect; 2) corporations can afford legal experts & lobbyists who can advise their clients to bend the law, & 3) influence lawmakers to pass laws without teeth Under-detected, under-prosecuted because they are committed by the well to do Crime Statistics: Not objective, also depend heavily upon policy upon which governments say there should be focus A lot of crime is not reported to the police Crime decreases --> from western to eastern Canada Crime rate has decreased since the 1990s (rose in the 60s-1991, then decreased) Grea
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