SOCIAL DEVIANCE: CHAPTER 6: VIOLENCE
Social And cultural concept
We may accept that the prohibition against murder is one that is completely
This is a primal crime.
The Social Construction of Murder
Murder is universally condemned.
The word „murder‟ is a predefined category and implies a negative judgement,
it is a deviant, criminal killing. Murder is universally criminal behaviour and
The taking of a human life is tolerated, even encouraged, under certain
circumstances > what is not murder is socially constructed.
To the „pro-choice‟ advocates that abortion is not murder.
To the „pro-lifers‟ it is murder.
Murder: The Positivist‟s Mission
FBI: refers to criminal homicide as murder and non-negligent manslaughter.
Defines it as a wilful killing
US: murder rate has fluctuated. High in 1930‟s due to poor medical care.
Declined through WWII. Then increased and remained high 1970s-80s.
Dropped in 1990s.
The wilful taking of a human life is not a random event it follows a set of 11
1. The public and media image of murder is extremely distorted.
2. Most murders take place in the heat of the moment.
3. Most murders are justified by killers as a form of vindication, a way out of
an intolerable situation.
4. The more intimate the relationship, the greater the likelihood that one
person will kill another.
5. Murderers and victim look remarkably alike.
6. Murders tend to be overwhelmingly intraracial (blacks tend to kill blacks).
7. African Americans are both more likely to kill and to be victims of criminal
homicide than whites are.
8. Murder is related to social class (SES).
9. Men are much more likely to kill than women.
10. Rates of criminal homicide vary from country to country, from one society
11. In the Western world, violence, especially lethal violence has dropped
enormously since the middle ages. FORCIBLE RAPE
FBI: defines forcible rape as „carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and
against her will‟. Statuses regard any forced penetration of a women‟s mouth,
vagina or anus by a man‟s penis as rape.
Male-to-male rape is not defined by the FBI as „rape‟.
Forcible rape is regarded as a violent rather than sexual act.
Rape is an assault; it employs force and violence > therefore by definition is
always a violent act.
The Social Construction of Rape
Diana Scully- the fact that rape is always by definition and by its very nature
violent doesn‟t mean it can‟t be other things as well. Sets up a false dichotomy
that assumes rape is about either violence or sex and cannot be both. Argues
it can be sex and violence.
Simple rape= is forces sexual intercourse in which there is little overt, clear-
Aggravated rape= overt violence
The social construction of rape is relative:
The general public: can be divided according to a spectrum or continuum
of judgments of what‟s rape. One end we have those that are exclusive
(definition is very narrow and judge very few acts as sexual aggression)
at the other end we have judgements that are inclusive (extremely
generous and very broad). Moderately exclusive (believe woman‟s place
is at home and men protect them) and moderately inclusive (woman has
the right of sexual determination) definitions also.
The Criminal Justice System: defines simple rape= is forces sexual
intercourse in which there is little overt, clear-cut violence. Aggravated
rape= overt violence.
Victims or Rape: women who have been forced to not see themselves
as victims of rape as they feel so threatened.
Explanations of Rape: The positivist Approach:
3 major types of broad categories of theories of rape causation:
Individual explanations of rape are those that argue some men have higher
tendency to sexually assault a women than others do. Psychopathology