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SOCI 362
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CRIME EXAM STUDY GUIDEQUESTION 1CONFLICT VS CONSENSUS The consensus perspective maintains that the vast majority shares similar values regarding right and wrong Morality is universal and important values are shared by all members of society Customs persist and the law represents a codification of societal values Theorists assume a reasonable degree of agreement on things that matter in societyThey also assume that social institutions such as the family education government and the economy normally all contribute to smooth running of society Crime occurs when something unusual happens that affect these institutions This results in strains stresses and frustrations that affect behavior Sometimes people find that when they attempt to attain culturally approved goals their paths are blocked Not everyone has access to institutionalized means or legitimate ways of achieving success Strain theory developed by sociologist Robert Merton posits that when people are prevented from achieving culturally approved goals through institutional means they experience strain or frustration that can lead to deviance He said that they also experience anomie or feelings of being disconnected from society which can occur when people do not have access to the institutionalized means to achieve their goalsExample In a class of graduating high school seniors 90 percent of the students have been accepted at various colleges Five percent do not want to go to college and the remaining five percent want to go to college but cannot for any one of a number of reasons All of the students want to succeed financially and attending college is generally accepted as the first step toward that goal The five percent who want to attend college but cant probably feel frustrated They had the same goals as everyone else but were blocked from the usual means of achieving them They may act out in a deviant mannerThe conflict perspective questions these assumptions and argues that the criminal law reflects the interests of the groups that create and enforce those laws The character of laws the kinds of conduct they prohibit and the types of sanctions depend on powerful groups that influence legislation The social values that receive the protection of the criminallaw are ultimately those treasured by the dominant interest groups It is not the majority but rather the most powerful whose values and concerns will be represented in the justice system Conflict theorists believe that the broad division of people into these two categories is inherently unequal They cite the criminal justice system to support their claim The capitalist class passes laws designed to benefit themselves These same laws are detrimental to the working class Both groups commit acts of deviance but the system the capitalists created defines deviance differently for each group The criminal justice system judges and punishes each group differently In addition the elite can often afford expensive lawyers and are sometimes on a firstname basis with the individuals in charge of making and enforcing laws Members of the working class generally do not have these advantagesCultural Conflict SellinCrime occurs when individuals acting on the conduct norms of their own group are in violation of the conduct norms the dominant group has enacted into law
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