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Crime and Deviance.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

Crime and Deviance: Consequences of Inequality 11/27/2012 4:10:00 PM - mass media is extremely misinformative - sociology: anybody could be a criminal Durkheim – the normality of crime  there is no known society that did not have crime  crime is normal and universal  belonging to a gang is belonging to a deviant subculture Robert Merton’s theory of anomie **** he sees crime as innovation - sociologists view crime as a result of deviant learning via imitation LAWS ARE NARRATIVES OF BLAME **** - criminal law attaches moral responsibility (blame) to people’s behaviour – TO CERTAIN PEOPLE UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES - contravenes the criminal code - notions of particular conduct in mind - socially constructing a difference that isn’t there -- how?? - rob ford’s removal from office was essentially a narrative of blame - some laws are about the $ amount stolen - some laws offer the police and judges discretion - law-enforcement assumes knowledge of the laws - people need to have confidence in the law - if people don’t have confidence they are likely to take the law into their own hands - one purpose of law enforcement is to create confidence in them income inequality is related to trust and confidence in public institutions can also make people distrust one another, fear victimization - high level of trust in Sweden inequality = distrust = fear of crime - more equ is an important precondition for strengthening community life - people trust each other the most in Scandavaian countries and Netherlands (slide 12) Moral Panic - about narratives of blame when something goes wrong - tends to mobilize people to act in violent, irrational ways - the media is an agent of moral indignation - moral panics reveal & aggravate social tensions that are hard to resolve Ex: Tea Party in the USA around gays, abortion, etc Crime narratives vary over time and place - always evolving - different around the world Social constructions influenced by: - ideas of morality and resp - religious faith - competing scientific & professional claims about the origins of crime Normality of Crime (Durkheim) - no society is without crime - is only understandable by understanding the socio-historical context - when crime rates vary, many diff explanations are available - against this backdrop of uncertainty, crime resulted from inequality too much lawlessness (right) versus too much repression (left) left wings would say that high rates are because the police are being more aggressive, etc right wings would say that its not enough laws and prisons - marijuana crackdowns, etc Exceptions to this rule: - huge fractions of rapes go unreported or result in convictions - crimes Canadians really care about: armed robbery, murder, kidnap) rates have been declining steadily in the past 20 years 3 important sociological questions in theorizing about crime: 1) causation: why do people commit crimes, and specifically what is the role of inequality in crime 2) socio-legal definition: why do people define certain kinds of activities as bad, criminal, immoral or deviant? Why did they ignore other behaviours? What role does inequality play in the writing/defining of crimes? 3) Punishment: why are some kinds of people more or less likely than others to be labeled and punished as deviant? Specifically, what is the role of inequality in punishing crime? merton’s strain theory: ***SEE THE MERTON DIAGRAM IN CHAPTER - inequality creates a gap between cultural goals and the means available to pursue these goals - these gaps create strain/anomie - poor people are minorities are most likely to experience this gap - most likely to undertake adaptations to anomie MERTON AND DURKHEIM HAVE TO DIFFERENT USES OF ANOMIE Adaptations to anomie: - innovation  tony soprano; I’m gonna become a criminal - retreatism  they give up, substance abusers, people who kill themselves - rebellion  fight the system FUCK THE POLICE - ritualism  going through the motions - merton’s theory explains robbery, etc, but not violent behaviour 
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