SOC102H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Symbolic Interactionism, Crime In Canada

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11 Apr 2012
Lecture 9: Crime and Violence
Text: Social Problems, Chapter 7
Victimization can be traumatic
o Can cause people to withdraw from normal life
Fear of crime reduces a community‟s vitality and cohesion
o Hinder out ability to carry out basic social activities
Men are more likely than women to be involved in violent crimes
o Different socialization provides the best explanation for this pattern
Some argue, criminal behaviour is a result of rational calculation that takes
into account the profitability and risk of a crime
Others argue that crime results whenever groups have unequal power and
o In short, crime increases when social inequality increases
Prisons cause as many problems as they solve they teach crime and
harden criminals
Crimes result in moral panic mass media, public safety organizations,
and public
o Creates unintended problems and a distorted public debate about
the nature and extent of crime
Stages of moral panic
o Concern growing awareness that the behaviour of the group or
category in question is likely to have a negative impact on society
o Hostility An increasing hostility towards the group in question and
clearer division between forming between “them” and “us” as the
group comes to be viewed as “folk devils”
o Consensus A general acceptance develops that the group in
question poses a real threat to society
o Disproportionality an action (or set of actions) is taken (or urged)
that is disproportionate to the threat actually posed by the accused
Laws: Rules of conduct that may provide for the punishment of violators.
In other words, the formal rules about what a society‟s members can and
cannot do.
Crime: Any behaviour that, in a given time and place, it prohibited by
applicable statutory law. When a law is violated, a crime is said to have
been committed.
o Regularity of enforcement and harshness of punishment reflects
how seriously a society takes the offending behaviour
Social Order: The prevalence of generally harmonious relationships;
used synonymously with social organization. This condition exists when
rules are obeyed and social situations are controlled and predictable.
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Rules serve not only to indicate which behaviours are acceptable, but also
to allow participants to anticipate the behaviour of others
Social Disorder: The uncertain and unpredictable condition in which rules
are not obeyed. The environment is generally unsafe, and the boundaries
of acceptable behaviour have broken down.
Crimes must be seen or reported: the crime funnel
o Crime to be known as such it must be processed through and
admin. System or enforcement agency
o Must be reported and recorded by the police; it may then become
part of the criminal statistics; may or may not be investigated; may
or may not result in a court case
o Recorded crime rates are socially constructed, and also leave out
hidden crime
Hidden crimes are not uncommon include unreported
instances of domestic violence, attacks on ethnic minorities
or indecent assault and rape
Economic crimes are also hidden workplace theft to large-
scale fraud, industrial pollution, contravention of health and
safety legislation
o Delinquency
Literally, misdeed, guilt, or neglect of duty, and hence in the
sense not strictly defined by law
JUVENILE delinquency broad range of behaviour
May range from that found offensive to respectable values
(noisy teenage gatherings, truancy) to petty theft, etc.
Self-Reporting: The victim reports to authorities that a crime has
occurred. This is the most direct method of measuring crime rates.
However, it is not the most accurate, as changes in the crime rate reflect
changes in the victims‟ willingness to report
Victimization Surveys: Samples of people are asked how many times in
a given time period they have been the victim of particular crimes
Crimes of Violence
Conventional Crimes: The traditionally illegal behaviours that most
people think of as „crime‟. For example, homicide and sexual assault are
given the most media coverage but account for only 12% of all crimes.
Homicide: The killing of a human being by another, directly or indirectly,
by any means; includes murder, i.e., the unlawful killing of another human
being with malicious intent, and manslaughter, the unlawful killing of
another person with sufficient intent to constitute murder
o We tend to kill and be killed by people close at hand
o Accounts for only 0.4% of crimes of violence in Canada in 2004
Assault is more common than homicide 90% of crimes of violence in
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o Common and associated with gender harassment, abuse and
o Reported by up to 62% of adults
o More likely to be former rather than current intimates and more
likely to be men
o Efforts to re-establish a relationship
o Various Determinants
Violence between intimates
o Men more likely to carry out extreme intimate-partner violence
including homicide
Non-Violent Crimes
Vice Crimes: Deviant behaviour that may be defined as immoral (for
example, gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking). These crimes provide
the greatest opportunity for organized crime
White-Collar Crimes: The crimes committed by white-collar workers and
management in the course of their occupations. They always are
distinguished from conventional criminal offences such as robbery or
murder. White-collar crimes are performed in the course of normal work
and usually occur in reputable organizations.
o Embezzlement, computer crime and forgery
o Can amount to anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars
o Prosper where governments decline to supervise the economic
o Generally given a lower priority than conventional crime despite
evidence that white-collar does economic, physical and
psychological harm to larger numbers of people
Organized Crime: A Window on our Culture?
Organized Crime: A group or system of professional criminals who
practice illegal activities as a way of life and whose criminal activities are
coordinated and controlled through a hierarchical system of bosses.
o Drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, bribery, money laundering,
pornography, assaults, homicide and contract killing, kidnapping,
human trafficking, counterfeiting, insurance fraud, auto theft, truck
hijacking, illegal arms trade
o Gross value of organized crime activites has been estimated at
$600 billion and $1.5 trillion
Crime is often highly organized and closely connected with the social,
political and economic life of the people in the community
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