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SOC1500 Reading Summaries

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University of Guelph
SOC 1500
Mavis Morton

SOC1500 Reading Summaries- key terms at end of each chapter! th th Week 1: 8 -10 January – Introducing sociological imagination, criminology, law and the criminal justice system. O’Grady – Chapter 1 pp. 1-12 Roberts, J. V. (2007). Public confidence in criminal justice in Canada: A comparative and contextual analysis. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 49(2), 153-184. • Crime can be identified by two different approaches: the objective-legalistic position or the social-reaction perspective • The objective-legalistic position: (CANADA) - “value consensus” or “normative” position, understands the defn. of a crime to be factual and precise—“something that is against the law” - Crime is a violation of legal statues- criminality limited to its legal construction - Ie. The criminal code of Canada - Tappan (before the criminal code) argues that crime is an “intentional act in violation of the criminal law that is subject to penalization” - Laws- widely shared customs and beliefs that become codified into legal statues - Criminologists analyse the rule-breakers- since “criminal” is defined by law - Primary question: “what are the causes of criminal behaviour” - Crime statistics measure prevalence of crime - Some behaviour may cause harm but may not be illegal—extra-legal—eg. physician malpractice - Biological causes of crime originate from this standpoint - Lombroso said inmates were biologically inferior - Focus continues to be on pathology and personality defects - Cleckley said serious offenders could not feel shame or guilt - Gottfredson and Hirschi suggest crime is based on social consensus- lack self- control - Law- proper guideline in differentiating illegal behaviour - Crime and crime control are considered an objective phenomena - Three types of law: administrative—public law that governs relationships between individuals and the state by regulating the activities of organizations, usually imposed by quasi-judicial tribunals (fines), civil—arrangements between individuals (wills, contracts), criminal—public law, “punish certain acts” - Criminal Code violations into three categories: crimes against the person (sexual assault), property crime (theft over $5000 and b&e), and offences that are considered just wrong (drugs) - To be found guilty: must have acted in an evil way (actus reus) and have an evil mind (mens rea) - Children under 12 and the “insane” are not able to form “mens rea”—therefore not held criminally accountable Crime and Social Reaction • Concern formed because people had come to see that such a narrow defn. of crime assumes that legal definitions reflect widespread social consensus about what is deviant in society—not consistent • Labelling theory’s Becker argues social groups create deviance by making the rules and applying them to “outsiders”—“deviance is not a quality of the act, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules to the offender” so, people label deviance by their own terms • Criminal behaviour is generally regarded to be deviant behaviour, it certainly is not the case that all deviant behave. is criminal—eg. sexual assault is both criminal and deviant (as society marks it to be), whereas flushing a toilet is socially deviant, but not criminal • Smoking is socially deviant and can be fined, but is not criminal- merely administrative • Social deviance is an elastic concept – “continuous scale that ranges from the most to the least serious” • How do we classify deviance—criminal is a clear defn. of when it is obvious social harm has occurred, however, social-reaction position argues that not all dangerous behaviours that hurt people are criminal.. as well as some behaviours are not very harmful but can lead to serious punishment (illegal drugs) • Ex. Cannabis- suggests that the level of social and individual harm may not be directly linked to the severity of punishment; social-reaction perspective- many rules and laws are not endorsed by all segments of society • Deviant behaviour is understood and reacted to is a reflection of how a society is structured- culturally varies ex. Drugs and infidelity • Why people violate social norms became less popular- more attention focused on labelling certain behaviours as criminal or deviant • Conflict/critical criminologists are under the assumption that society is in a constant state of divergence- argue that laws come into being within the context of social conflict- entire law breaking process • Discrimination based on class suggests that the crimes committed by the economically powerful are to be taken less seriously than street crime (even though economically powerful crime costs society more) • Thus, two types of crime are subject to different values in diff. classes of society, thus subject to different definitions • Foucault and his writing on moral regulation fits well with social-reaction position- social regulation of behaviour is not based on widespread social consensus but on moral regulation (social process that defines right and wrong- encouraging and discouraging behaviours- by rewards and punishments) • Conflict theory- views law-creation essentially as socially higher individuals impose their will on others • Moral regulationists do not think people follow rules simply because of the fear of consequences • Moral regulation perspective introduces the idea of self-regulation, though sometimes this may lead to resisting the law- not interested in why people are poor, or drug users, but simply in how and why they are controlled • Becker’s notion of moral entrepreneur has been used to attribute the passage of the Opium Act to enterprising individuals, rather than a societal consensus • Passage of the Act had more to do with political campaign than the people • Another example- squeegee cleaners and panhandlers banned in Ontario under Mike Harries- political as opposed to society consensus (Ontario Safe Street Act) • Tickets rose by 200+% to homeless people, but very little is known on what the system does when these people to not pay their tickets- no address • In both cases, there was scant evidence to support a societal need CRIME THEN, can be defined- • Objective-legalist focuses on the causes of crime to be analyse (WHY PEOPLE BREAK THE LAW) • Social reaction focuses on law-making processes and how crime and deviance become socially constructed (CONSTRUTED BY SOCIETY) Robert’s Reading: - Article reviews the empirical research on the issue of public confidence in the criminal justice system in Canada and attempts to explain current trends - Many people have little confidence, but more people are positive as opposed to negative (generally higher than in other countries) - Public has more confidence in health care than in justice system - Police have most confidence, prison system the least - Article discusses these findings, their implications for research and policy - Recent and growing interest public confidence (US & UK) - Important because issues need to be reported - Public participation is necessary for a conviction - Desire for radical change reflects a lack of confidence - Individuals who had more confidence in Canada’s public institutions had a better sense of belonging to Canada—promotes social cohesion - Public had little confidence in the Young Offenders Act so the Youth Criminal Justice Act appeared - Reform proposals have appeared simply to inspire public confidence—a public priority - No level of government has undertaken any systematic initiative to promote the image of justice - To date, no evaluation of Canadian public confidence - Need to address the following questions: 1) How much confidence do Canadians express in their justice system? 2) How do levels of public confidence in Canada compare with those in other jurisdictions? 3) How much variation in confidence levels exists across public institutions and between specific branches of the justice system? 4) Is there any evidence that levels of public confidence in justice have declined in recent years? - confidence and trust can be used coherently - ratings and polls taken- all have different weaknesses - Canadian polls do not take local and nation levels into play - confidence levels vary widely across different branches of crim. justice - people may have less experience with the courts than with the health care system - the mandate of health care is to please the patient—not quite the court’s mandate - the influence of ideology when judging courts over healthcare - public generally has a pessimistic view of crime trends - crime rates decreasing but general public thinks they are increasing because of justice system - more public trust in “helping professionals” ex. Teachers and doctors - members of the public appear to like the crime-control model (maximize conviction) as opposed to the due-process model - people would rather a guilty man free, than an innocent man in jail LACK OF KNOWLEDGE Week 2: 15th-17th January – How much crime and how we measure it? O’Grady – Chapter 2 pp. 32-64 Rennison, Callie Marie. (2009). A New Look at the Gender Gap in Offending, Women & Criminal Justice, 19, 171–190. • Is violent crime in Canada on the rise? NO • Mass media is the modem that Canadians use to learn about crime • CRIME is rated- Official statistics, self-report surveys, victimization surveys, observational accounts • Empirical reality may be different than media-constructed images • Empirical investigation- systematic collection of observable data • Criminology is not simply about describing the nature of crime in society, it must explain and understand the nature of crime using the most reliable information • Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR)- first place to look for the “real level of crime” • way crime is measured falls under the objectivist-legalistic definition • In the USA, the FBI is responsible for counting crime across the nation- collecting, publishing, and archiving statistics • Several annual statistical publications- Crime in the United States, British Home office • Today, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) in Ottawa is the division of Statistics Canada that is responsible for the countries crime statistics • UCR data- crimes known by the police to have taken police: - Violent crime - Property crime - Other Criminal Code violations • Police are required to send a Crime Reporting Aggregate Survey to Ottawa (tally sheet for the jurisdiction)- crime data released monthly • Recently, the UCR2 Survey – incident-based reporting system (respondent-reported) • Some offences do not appear simply because the UCR survey classified incidents according to the most serious offence (MSO)-classified by longest sentence under the Criminal Code • Violent offences always trump non-violent offenses • Ex. In the scenario of a B&E and assault, it would be counted as an assault- not both • As a result, less violent offences are undercounted by the aggregate survey • Incident-based survey allows for up to 4 offences per incident • Counts are reported both as absolute numbers and as rates • Crime rates take into account the population change, and different provinces • Number of police-reported crimes x 100,000 / population = crime rate • It is possible to compare homicide rates in Canada, the US and England- Canada is lower than the US, but higher than England • Police-Reported Crime Severity Index (PRCSI) was introduced in 2009 • Police statistics should be treated with caution: 1) Most crime is reported in the first instance by the public- so not all crime gets reported. Ex- battered women, public feels nothing would be accomplished 2) Many people think certain things are trivial matters- school fights 3) People do not know they are a victim of a crime- pocketed charity money 4) People consider reporting incidents to the police as time/money consuming • Volume of crime reported by police may be a function of the size and resources of the force ex. Prostitution and drug dealing (require proactive policing) • Way in which crime is defined varies over time-affects statistics ex. Rape laws broadened therefore massive spike in sexual assault cases • YCJA (Youth Criminal Justice Act) allowed to decrease crime and keep young offenders out of traditional court with supervision.. etc • Due to the discussed limitations of official records, additional techniques have become available—self-report surveys- questionnaires that seek anonymous reports from respondents about offences they have committed over a selected period of time - Ask about gender/demographic/age - Additional questions so crime theories can be developed • Info meant to describe the nature and extent of the crime but ALSO explain it • Porterfield (1943) discovered that every college student admitted to having engaged in the same sorts of illegal activities as the delinquent group, yet few had ever been charged—idea of low socioeconomic status being tied to delinquency was disputable • Short and Nye (1958) encouraged self-report surveys- they failed to find any relationship between status and delinquency • These results gave reason to believe that the system was using “extralegal factors” in making decisions concerning youth who are targeted by police—discrimination rather than actual fact that lower material kids were worse • Valid and reliable self-report survey: - Sampling- process of systematically selecting units from population so that generalizations can be made about the larger population—usually use random sampling (good example is the Canadian General Social Survey (GSS) - Virtually impossible to get random samples from some populations—ex. homeless (because the defn. of homeless varies, the homeless move too much- no perm. Address) - Reliability- the extent to which a measurement procedure produces the same results on repeated trials - Validity- the accuracy of a measure in relation to the concept that one is attempting to measure - Respondents may lie, or simply offer inaccurate reports of their behaviour - High-risk offenders and serious crime are not included - School-given studies cannot represent those youth that were expelled from school, skip school, or dropped out of school—factors related to economic, physical, and psychological deprivation must be included in explanations of why these marginal youth are involved in crime - Improvements have been made to remove discrepancy, and self-report surveys are now widely used - The Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (OSDUS) is widely respected • Most recent technique for measuring crime is the victimization survey- Canadian Urban Victimization Survey (CUVS) , General Social Survey (GSS)—found that crimes are not reported—“crime hot spots” are not detected- no phone line local surveys are given- help gain info and give implications for local services • Telescoping- refers to a respondent’s mistaken specification of when an experience of victimization occurred relative to the reference period specified by a researcher minimized by a technique called “bounding”- achieved by comparing incidents reported in an interview with incidents reported in a previous interview and deleting duplicate incidents (requires each resident to be reported twice- expensive, only practised in the US- NAJCD) • Observational accounts- researcher actually interacts with individuals on a face-to-face basis in a natural setting—not undertaken to gather information about crime so that estimates can be made in the general pop. • Taken on a small scale- deeper understanding achieved • Direct observation (not used)- activities of a group are observed but the presence of the researcher is unknown • Participant observation (used)- ethnographic approach widely applied to gang studies • Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED)- proper design of the physical environment can be effective in preventing crime—ex. lights in an area where women frequent late at night • Little useful info can be gained without participant trust Is Crime in Canada on the Rise? • Four primary data sources all have limitations—cannot possibly say with accuracy whether or not crime is on the rise • Possible to predict over short periods of time if different kinds of crime escalated or declined • Homicide is accurately measured- first degree murder (planned and deliberate, a police officer or with another criminal act- ex. kidnapping), second degree murder (all murder that isn’t first degree—lower degree of intent legally attached to second-degree), manslaughter, or infanticide • Parole after 10 years for 2 degree, after 25 years for 1 degree • Although rare, the court may designate certain inmates as “violent offenders” which in many cases means the inmate will stay in jail until death • Manslaughter- heat of passion or sudden provocation (max 25 years- parole after 1/3 of the sentence) • Infanticide- a female who by wilful act or by omission causes the death of her newly born child (must be under 12 months and the mother cannot have recovered from the effects of childbirth – psychiatric determination- max of five years in prison) Trends and Correlates of Canadian Homicide • Less than 1% of all violent crime—Canada higher than most developed countries, with the States 3x higher than Canada • Declining ever since the mid-70s • Highest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, lowest in PEI and Newfoundland (Ontario and Quebec under national average) • Homicide is frequent in Aboriginal people • Males are more likely to be homicide victims (age 18-24) • Women aged 18-24, 30-39 most likely to be homicide victims • Firearms are increasingly popular methods Rennison’s Reading: - Gender gap in offending (males commit more than females)—recently this gap has narrowed—accurate reflection of changes in violent offending or an artifact of data used - Is the reported convergence still there when race and age is accounted for? - Two fundamental questions (using victimization data)—has the gender gap in violent crime offending changed over time? And has the gender gap changed once the offender’s race and age accounted for? - Results: no change over time, where change was measured it was in the form of gender convergence resulting from a decline in male violent offending rates that exceeded the decline in female offending rates - Findings highlight the importance of accounting for offenders’ race and age to avoid overgeneralized and possibly misleading conclusions Week 3: 22nd-24th January – Crime, Media, and Representation O’Grady – Chapter 1 pp. 12-31 Media Portrayals of Crime in Canada • Mass Media- since the 1960s studies of mass media have shown how they play an integral role in how the general public understands the social reality of crime, and why it is crucial to consider these media in understanding how crime is defined in society • Crime is defined in media on an objectivist-legalistic viewpoint • In most media accounts of crime (news and programming) crime tends to be defined primarily as events associated with personal fear and risk in which violence is commonplace—where victims are often let down by the CCJS. (Canadian Criminal Justice System) • Crimes are portrayed differently in diff. mass mediums, but crime reports are a prominent part of news content (25%) • Literature examined the treatment and presentation of crime in the media and found: 1. Public knowledge about crime and justice is derived largely from the mass media 2. The way crime is portrayed in the media differs considerably from how crime is measured and defined officially • Weak relationship between societal concerns and media presentations about crime and official crime rates • Sprott conducted a study on youth crime and found that while 94% of youth crime depicted in media is violent, less than 25% of youth crime (acc. To court stats) is violent • With the average person watching tv 20+ hrs per week, media is persuasive and manipulating • There has been a change in the way crime is depicted in film- Reiner and Livingstone found a decrease in the number of portrayals of property crime, but a steady rise from the 1950s to the mid-1990s in treatments of violent, sexual, and drug-related crime— conclusion that society has come to feel more threatened by interpersonal violence • Acc. to research literature, the relationship between a person’s levels of exposure to the mass media and their fear of crime is multifaceted 1. Sacco cites Williams and Dickinson’s work who cites that television news consumers are actively involved in giving meaning to what appears on their screens—the mass media are not the public’s only sources of info. about crime, and other experiences may come to bear on fears and anxieties. More likely to introduce fear if passed through interpersonal networks than mass media. Gender, age, income, and neighbourhood-police effectiveness were much better predictors of fear of crime than were media consumption 2. Pre-internet, the newspaper was a one-way street… now with internet, viewers can share opinions openly (as Jacklin suggests). We do not yet know if this change has altered the way the public understand and interpret the meaning of crime as it appears in mass media 3. Media are capable of distorting public understandings about crime and its control. For example, in the press the public is left with the impression that the police are doing their jobs wonderfully well and that the entire problem of drugs is under control. Research by Sprott suggests that the promotion of misconceptions like these have a real impact on what the public believes should be done to confront crime—ex. youth crime—not only does this study show that the youth crime coverage in the press does not correspond to the “statistical reality” of youth crime, it also shows that media coverage can promote public pressure for more punitive measures to deal with youth Crime and Moral Panics • One idea that has been used by criminologists since the 70s is the notion of “moral panic”—when a condition, episode, person, or group emerges to become defined as a threat to the societal values and interests • Cohen examined the impact the media play in shaping how crime was defined in England during the late 60s. Not only did the media exaggerate and distort a series of events, but the local merchants and the police played an important role in creating what was to become “a moral panic” • There have been studies on moral panic (focused on youth) associated with drug use among Israeli youth, satanic cults, serial killers, muggers, gangs, and date rape drugs • 1980s U.S. Crack epidemic—America’s war on drugs… Reinarman and Levine point out that not long before the 1988 election more than 1000 stories on crack appeared in the American press (politics!) • For the above to be identified as a “moral panic” evidence must be available that calls into question the factual basis of the claims being made (ex. crack babies long term defects and addiction statistics) However, this moral panic around drug use in the U.S. had important implications—financially (to support police) and to the people (black males) being incarcerated for drug charges Moral Panics in Canada • Ex. Newfoundland’s violent crime rate rising by 40% in ten years—a “folk devil” emerged within this discourse and was deemed responsible for the rise in crime; unemployed male youth—O’grady found that there was a discrepancy between actual changes in official crime rates and the concern directed toward the level and character of crime in the province—major explanations of crime came from changes in record-keeping and initiatives to stop domestic disputes • Leyton found that politics was also at fault—discovered “violence” for politicians own interests—Cohen said “the worse the crime problem becomes, the more professional growth can be justified” • More recent studies used the concept of “risk society”- Beck who argued that deep changes to economies, cultures, and social life are a conspicuous feature of global societies—thus traditional institutions and social constructs have been transformed and the effect has been an increase in feelings of insecurity • Doyle and Lacombe used moral panic perspective and notions of risk to analyze the pedophilia ruling in BC—found a “folk devil” Robin Sharpe to be in the middle of things- alleged 65 year old gay male child pornographer and pedophile—he stated that sex between adults and children were a long-standing practise in society—media depicted him as a freak and a scapegoat—Social anxieties in Canada around child abuse have been raised because of the heightened number of cases (not a real increase), and proliferation of media cases—Doyle and Lacombe also argue that the proliferation of news media and other new technologies provides more sources in society to alert the public about crime, danger, and risk. • Folk devils have been perceived as male until the nasty girl phenomenon in the mid-90s- that a new breed of female criminal has emerged and is being portrayed as on the rise in the mass media—public anxiety around girl violence is beginning to mount (Carla Homolka and Reena Virk) • Gangsta rap, sexualized music videos, and teen fashion magazines are modern pop culture that are the culprits for the rise of the nasty girl—fears about nasty girls DO NOT CORRESPOND to any actual statistics of a rise • Sprott and Doob explain that fewer men are appearing in court, and thus it appears that there is a rise in female appearances- not the case! • Barron and Lacombe continue to say societal backlash against feminism is also the cause—Girl power is the real nasty here; the moral panic over the nasty girl is an outcrop of a desire to return to a male-controlled social order Criticisms of the Moral Panic Perspective • Concept of moral panic is useful for understanding how crime can be exaggerated and distorted and to concerns about the broader social order, the concept has not been without some criticism • Criticized on the basis that it often does not pay enough attention to the fact that all social reaction is not the same, and that audiences today are more sophisticated and less likely to be manipulated by the media than perhaps was the case in the past • There is often some organized and articulated opposition ex. Toronto Star article on handgun violence • Moore and Valverde have also challenged the framework on the basis that understanding social change is not advanced by simply pointing out that “X or Y fear is not justified by crime statistics” ex. date rape drugs Dowler Reading: - Canadian viewers are now exposed to American reality tv shows while “cop” shows focus on the investigation and arrest of suspects for a variety of offences - Court tv presents sensational trials that typically focus on murder, serial murder, or sexual assaults - Advertise their programs as “realistic” crime portrayals so much so that the expression “the CSI effect” has been bandied about by media outlets - The CSI effect relates to the popularity of programs that portray scientific and forensic evidence-gathering procedures to catch criminals; the “Effect” is the rise in expectations of real-life crime victims and jury members - Canadians are more afraid of crime than American counterparts—caused by - Our nations viewing choices, and have potential to yield interesting analyses of how people filter news, reality shows, and drama to construct their ideas about crime and the fear of victimization - When we speak of knowledge of crime, we must be specific about what type and the form it was received in - Centre of news and entertainment-crime - Realistic portrayals of crime and justice allow for blurred lines between fiction and reality - “infotainment”- highly stylized disguised to be informative or realistic - Publics everlasting thirst for info on bizarre and violent crime - Carla Hamolka “Mega case” used to relate to new cases - Huge in North American pop culture- if it bleeds it leads is not as true as “it really depends on who is bleeding” - Gender—female victims who are “innocent” and those who are “blame-worthy” - Crime news has long been understood to have a profound influence in moving society toward “law and order” campaigns - Three elements that emerge are natural accidents, legal tragedy, and political scandal Frost Reading: - Examine the extent to which criminologists and other academics participate in news making criminology as guests on cable news shows—explore the ways in which crime is portrayed on popular cable news programs—specifically examine 180 segments devoted to crime on cable news that aired from June to August 2006, with an emphasis on the role of the 347 guests appearing in those segments and their perspectives on crime causation and crime control - Find that criminologists and other academic experts infrequently appear on these programs, and that guests- regardless of type—only rarely address crime causation or crime control - Media simply serves to reproduce the dominant crime control ideology - Media coverage presents a distorted view of the crime problem and perpetuates criminal stereotypes - 24 hour news networks can cover more details
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