SOC 2070 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Lyndon B. Johnson, Cunnilingus, False Dilemma

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9 Aug 2016
Week 6
Chapter 5: Crime and Criminalization – page #97-128:
Crime and Deviance: A Conceptual Distinction:
Draw a four-fold table indicating crime and not-crime, and cross-tabulate it with deviance and
not deviance
Instances or cases that are both crimes and
deviance ! murder and robb ery
Instances that are deviance but not crimes !
Instances that are neither crimes nor deviance
! reading a newspaper
Acts that are criminal but not deviant
Crime is official deviance; it is wrongdoing that attracts formal sanctions that is, possible
arrest and imprisonment
In crime, the offender causes the criminal justice system the police, the courts, and the jails
and prisons to get involved in the punishment of the supposed miscreant
Some deviant acts are criminal though most are not obesity, being a creep, a loser, a geek,
a dweeb, an eccentric, and atheist, an alcoholic, etc are all examples of deviance, but they
are not crimes
Crime is not a definitional precondition for deviance
Most of the mainstream public regards having been convicted of and, even more so,
imprisoned for a crime, as stigmatizing
Crime is not a defining criterion of deviance criminality of one specific type of deviance, but
one that many offenders would like to put in their past; by itself, being a criminal is deviant
because it can stigmatize a person in the eyes of many audiences
Many white collar crimes are against the law, but statues criminalizing white collar and ever
corporate wrongdoing are difficult to enforce, are virtually never policed, and rarely attacks
the kinds of stigma that the Index Crimes do
On the other hand, criminal behaviour is that which is likely to get the perpetrator arrested
and prosecuted; by this definition, all criminal behaviour is deviant, since it attracts negative
reactions that is, formal sanctioning
A broad definition of deviance sees any and all punishing or condemnatory reactions
regardless of whether they come from a friend, acquaintance, relative, or the criminal justice
system as the defining criteria of deviance
According to this definition, a crime is a violation of one specific kind of norm a law which
generated formal, state-supported sanctions, including prosecution, conviction, and
imprisonment according to this definition, all crime is deviant
But the reverse does not hold crime does not define deviance instead, this definition sees
laws as a type of norm, and criminal punishment a type of condemnation or punishment;
crime is a form or subtype of deviance
The analytic or theoretical concepts that run through every course on deviance also apply to
any number of illegal actions such concepts include the social construction of reality,
deviance, neutralization, vocabularies of motive, stigma, stigma management, condemnation,
identity, subculture, moral entrepreneurs, power, social conflict, and contingency
The most important thing about both deviance and crime is not the specific details of each
activity but the insight that studying gives us concerning how society works
What the study of both deviance and crime are “about” is primarily the exercise of social
control, the dynamics of normative violations, and the possibility of punishment
Specialists in crime, often referred to as criminologists, tend to focus on behaviour (almost
never beliefs, and never physical conditions) that generate formal sanctioning, as well as the
origin, dynamics, and consequences of that sanctioning itself
In contrast, deviance specialists tend to focus on behaviour, beliefs, and conditions that
generate informal sanctioning, as well as the origin, dynamics, and consequences of the
informal sanctioning itself
Many actions that attract interpersonal sanctioning are not against the law; they are not
arrestable offenses, but virtually all offenses that can attract arrest and criminal prosecution
are to a significant degree stigmatizing or “deviantizing
Common Law and Statutory Law:
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Week 6
Western society distinguishes two different types of criminal laws common law and
statutory law
Common law stems from ancient custom, tradition, and precedent most legal experts
regard common law as a set of rules that defines acts as crime that violate norms that have
existed for thousands of years
These laws are based on the unwritten laws their violations are referred to as “high-
consensus” crimes because practically everyone in any society, practically everywhere on the
globe, agrees that laws against them should exist and are valid and legitimate
The implication of common law is that it does not come into being as a result of the pressure
of special interest groups but has the force of tradition behind it
Violations of these laws had been punished,. With the force of sanction of the society as a
whole, long before they were inscribed on paper, parchment, wood, or stone
The history of common law, then, was a 3 step process:
1. Such laws began as tradition (the violations of which were “primal” crimes)
2. Then were codified juridically, in the courtroom, by legal precedent
3. They were enacted into statutory form
In contrast, laws whose existence began as statutes (“statutory law”) most statutory laws
refer to crimes for which there are no roots in historical or cultural tradition; most also tend to
have less than complete public consensus concerning their legal status
Statutory laws arose because technological change made certain controls necessary
because conflict between social categories in the population resulted in the triumph of a more
restrictive or moralistic group’s views over those of a more permissive groups; or because
social change or innovation or discoveries generate new situations, activities, or substances
Unlike the primal or common law that has a history of thousands of years, most illegal
behaviour defined by a set of statutes (“statutory law”) is often subject to change over time,
and may vary from one jurisdiction to another
However, even for the primal or common-law crimes, a measure of relativity exists, not so
much with respect to whether the actions are against the law or whether they are considered
wrong, but with respect to judging to behaviour criminal according to when, by whom, and
under what circumstances such acts were committed
While primal crimes have existed for thousands of years, the judgment as to the legality of
specific instances of them has varied according to local custom and tradition
Even today, the taking of human life is condoned under certain conditions for instance,
legal execution, warfare, and in some jurisdictions, euthanasia
Murder may be a primal crime, condemned everywhere and at all times, but what murder is,
is socially constructed the term, “murder”, refers not simply to a killing of one human being
by another but to an unjustified, unauthorized, unlawful, deviant killing
What is Our Mission? Constructivism vs. Positivism:
The fact that even common law crimes are interpreted differently according to who the
perpetrator and who the actor are tells us that we can view crime as a social construct
It is constructed by definitions called laws and interpretations of those laws that regard
certain actions as unlawful, worthy of punishment, while other, objectively similar actions are
seen as acceptable and noncriminal
Even the same action may be regarded as a crime, or not a crime according to the
circumstances of the act; the constructionist is interested in these circumstances
For certain criminal statutes, consensus does not exist, and the law changes from one
decade to another looked at as a social construct, legislation is not simply a product of
abstract right or wrong but the outcome of conflict, with a different segment of the society
attempting to gain the upper hand and pass a law favourable to its views and interests
If circumstances were to change, matters could reverse, and the law would be rewritten to
reflect that fact how the laws change, how they are interpreted, how they vary from one
jurisdiction and society to another, how the circumstances of the act and the characteristics of
the actor influence arrest, conviction, and incarceration: answering these questions is the
social constructionist’s mission
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In addition to the relativity we see in what’s a crime from one time period to another and from
one society to another, there is also a common core to crime many crimes look very similar
the world over, in all societies, that exist now or that have ever existed
Murder is illegal and is prosecuted the world over, just as it has been from the dawn of
humanity but the word “murder”, is a loaded term; it refers specifically to what is considered
a deviant, unlawful, and illegitimate killing
As a general rule, there is a set of statutes that exists everywhere, and if violated, arrest,
prosecution, and imprisonment are likely to follow, given certain precondition
One of the positivist’s missions is the study of the causes of widely criminally prosecuted acts
behaviour that is regarded as criminal nearly everywhere is the principal subject matter of
the field of criminology
“Common core” crimes also constitute the “common core” of the subject matter of
criminology; nearly all criminology textbooks contain one of more chapters on the what FBI
calls the Index Crimes: murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle
theft, and larceny-theft
The majority of criminologists study the causes, consequences, and control of common law
or street crimes, acts that are defined as criminal throughout history and in most or nearly all
places of human habitation
So there is a common core to what’s considered criminal behaviour; what’s regarded as
legally punishable offense is not random, not entirely dependent on the characteristics of the
offender, and not completely relative from one time and place to another
Criminologists also study non-Index Crimes just because statutes came into existence only
in the past century or the past few decades does not mean that their violation is not harmful
to society, or that their understanding is not important for the criminologist’s mission
In a like fashion, organized crime, political crime (such as treason), sexual offenses against
children, violations of the laws against weapons possession, driving under the influence of
alcohol, the sale of alcohol to minors, and fraud none of which are Index Crimes have
important consequences for society, and are therefore studied by criminologists
Still, Index Crimes are the most characteristics, typical, and paradigmatic of crime in general,
and when criminologists generalize about crime, they are the ones researchers generalize
The Uniform Crime Reports:
The FBI divides the Index Crimes into violent crime rape, murder, robbery, aggravated
assault and property crime burglary, motor-vehicle theft, and larceny-theft
The Index Crimes are predatory crimes: they entail one or more parties victimizing one or
more other parties
The so-called “public order” or “moral crimes” include drug and alcohol offenses and sex
crimes; they are not considered predatory crimes they are consensual, “victimless”, or non-
victim crimes
The FBI’s annual Crime in the United States (the Uniform Crime Reports, or UCR) is based
on the population’s reporting of crimes to the police
Critics have extensively and strongly criticized the UCR’s data on the incidence and rate of
crimes; officials representing cities that these data indicate are “unsafe” are especially critical
The main lesson to take away from the hailstorm of controversy and criticism is that some
Index Crimes are substantially under-reported, as indicated by other ways of estimating rates
of crime, for instance, victimization surveys; when researchers compare other data sources
with the figures in the UCR, they find that criminal behaviour is considerably more frequent
than is indicated by police report, and the discrepancies are systematic, not random
The FBI has collected the data reported in the UCR’s Crime in the United States since 1930
every year, roughly, 12,500 law enforcement agencies, making up over 90% of the
population, send to Washington such vital information as crimes reported (or “known”) to law
enforcement, the characteristics of victims, the geographic locale of the offense, number of
offenses “cleared”, usually by arrests, the demographic characteristics of arrestees, and
information about law enforcement personnel
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