Textbook Notes (369,018)
Canada (162,342)
Sociology (1,062)
SOCA02H3 (310)


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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

Chapter 7: Deviance & Crime Canadian Attitudes Toward Crime  Canadian television viewers allured to crime shows  When asked to indentify top 10 social issues that concern them, Can placed “crime” among top 3  Cans believe crime is on the rise, courts are too lenient w/ offenders, should use death penalty  Canada contains a large # of ‘bad people’ who have broken the law  Oversimplification b/c 1) the term crime simply indicates technical violation of criminal law—  tells lil about his/her moral character  ex) This is the Law [TV show] o 2) List of famous ppl who have been labelled as criminals include Martin Luther, Louis Riel, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela  this people are now heroes for most people  Norms & laws have changed dramatically, so have the defi of crime  Sec 319 of Criminal Code: prohibits the wilful promotion of hatred against any identifiable grp or anyone distinguished by color, race, sex orient, religion, or ethnic grp o Any1 doing so→ punished w/ an imprisonment of upto 2 years  Acts that are right & heroic for some ppl are wrong & treacherous for others The Social Definition of Deviance & Crime Types of Deviance & Crime  Deviance: breaking a norm; violation of an accepted rule of behaviour o Ex) If a man were to use a woman’s washroom, regard him as deviant o Many deviant acts go unnoticed o Informal punishment: mild sanction thats imposed during face-to-face interaction  Ex) gossip, shaming, stigmatization  Stigmatized: ppl are negatively evaluated b/c of a marker that distinguishes them o Formal punishment: results from breaking laws, laws that are enforced by gov’t bodies  Ex) spending time in prison  John Hagan classifies types of deviance & crime along 3 dimensions: 1) Severity of the social response  Homicide (other serious deviance) results in the most severe negative reaction  Wearing a nose ring → less negative reaction 2) Perceived harmfulness of the deviant/criminal act  Sexual assault→ harmful; tattooing → less harmful  Not actual harmfulness, but perceived harmfulness is the issue 3) Degree of Public agreement  Whether the act should be considered deviant  Murder vs. smoking marijuana 1  4 types of deviance & crime [Hagan] 1) Social diversions → minor acts of deviance, harmless, evokes mild societal reaction  Ex) dyeing your hair purple! Malak Patel | Chapter 7 2) Social deviation → more serious acts [non-criminal], somewhat harmful, subject to institutional sanction  Ex) wearing long hair in John Lie’s high school 3) Conflict crimes → illegal acts that many ppl consider harmful, punishable by the state th  Ex) growing a long beard in early 17 cent Russia 4) Consensus crime → illegal acts that all ppl agree are bad & harm society greatly  State inflicts severe punishment  Ex) wearing samurai hairstyle in mediaval Japan  People’s conception of deviance & crime change over time Power & the Social Construction of Crime & Deviance  Social constructionism: natural or innate features of life are sustained by social processes o Emphasizes how some ppl are in a position to create norms & pass laws that define others as deviant or criminal o POWER is a key element in defining deviance & crime Crimes against Women  Women are generally less powerful than men  Stranger rapes → severely punished; date rapes or acquaintance rapes → rarely prosecuted  Diana Scully’s study of convicted rapists shows “rape” situation has improved o New Can laws have raised ppl’s awareness of date, acquaintance, marital rape o Sexual assault is now more prosecuted  Why? o b/c women now have more autonomy in the family, earn more, have more political influence o feminists succeeded in changing the defi of sexual harassment o Sexual harassment now considered a social deviation of crime o ↑ed public awareness  Social defi of crimes against women have changed w/ a shift in distribution of POWER b/w men & women White Collar Crime  White-collar crime: refers to illegal acts committed by a person of respectability & high social status in the course of his occupation o Ex) embezzlement, false advertising,tax evasion,insider trading,fraud,copyright infringement  Street crimes: committed by ppl from lower classes o Ex) arson, breaking & entering, robbery, assault, etc  White collar crimes are more costly to society (ex. Bre-X) o WC crime is underreported, less prosecuted o Police agencies not equipped/trained to process complaints abt many WC crimes o Invisible in crime totals (Statistics Can)  WC crime results in few prosecutions & fewer convictions b/c of: o 1) WC crimes takes place in private → difficult to detect o 2) corporations can afford legal experts, PR firms that advises on how to ‘bend’ laws  Gov’t also commit serious crimes 2 o Difficult to punish political leaders o Argue → good motives excuse bad behaviour o Ex) RCMP→ members put themselves ABOVE the law in their attempts to enforce the law Malak Patel | Chapter 7 o w/e the police needs to do in order to do their jobs is ipso facto legal  In sum, WC crime is underdetected, underprosecuted, & underconvicted b/c its a crime of well-to-do  Social construction of crimes against women have changed; against WC has changed very little b/c impossible to shift power from upper class to lower class Crime Rates  Some crimes are more common, rates vary over place & time & among dfrnt social groups  Info on crime collected by the police is our main source of info on crime in Can o Info collected from 400 municipal police dept o Canada uses Uniform Crime Reporting [UCR] system Drawbacks of Relying on Official Crime Statistics  Much crime is not reported to the police  Victimless crimes: violations of the law in which no victim is identified or steps forward o Ex) illegal gambling, illegal drugs, prostitution communicating  Authorities & wider public decide which criminal act to report & which to ignore  Changes in legislation influence # of recorded offenses  Sometimes the assailant is a friend/relative of the victim → afraid to report it  Self-report surveys: respondents are asked to report their involvement in criminal activities, either as perpetrators or victims o Self-reporting surveys report approx same # as official statistics but find 2-3X the rate of less serious crimes  Indirect measures are also used o Ex) sales of syringes are a good index for the use of illegal drugs  Committing an act in violation of law doesn’t always result in being labelled as criminal  The process of criminal labelling → like a funnel [broad @ 1 end, narrow @ other]  Victimization surveys: ppl are asked whether they’ve been victims of crime  International Crime Victim Survey found that, on avg, 55% incidents are reported to police, PROPERTY crimes are more reported  An offence is ‘actual’ when police investigation confirms that criminal offence has occurred  An offence is ‘cleared’ when police have identified an offender  If police lays a charge, it is ‘cleared by charge’ What Official Crime Rates Show  In 2003, 2.5 M crime incidents reported; crime rate was 8, 132 per 100, 000 pop  No increases in violent crime, nearly all ↑ was for other criminal code offenses  Can crime rates declined or remained stable  Crime wave began its upswing in the early 1960s, peaked & fell in the 1990s and for 9 years, decreased each yr by an avg 3%. Explanations for Declining Crime Rates 1. Increased policing 2. # of young men in pop has ↓ 3. Booming economy 3 a. Variable most strongly correlated w/ crime rate: male unemployment rate 4. American researchers argue→ b/c of legalization of abortion [for US]  Social control: methods of ensuring conformity  Imposing tougher penalties or putting more ppl in prison DOESN’T account for ↓crime rates Malak Patel | Chapter 7 Criminal Profiles  83% of criminal cases involved a male accused  However, w/ every passing year, women compose a slightly bigger % of arrests  Most crime is committed by ppl who have not reached middle age  15 to 24 year-old age cohort most prone to criminal behaviour Race & Incarceration  Race a factor in who is arrested  Aboriginal people are overrepresented as a proportion of those incarcerated [in prison] o Marked in the Prairie provinces  To address this problem, section 718.2: “all available sanctions other than imprisonment should be considered for all offenders, w/ particular attention to Aboriginals”  Aboriginal women particularly overrepresented in Canada’s correctional institutions  Explanations for overrepresentation of Aboriginals in Can’s prisons: 1. Disproportionately large # of Aboriginals are poor 2. Aboriginals may commit crimes that are more detectable 3. The police, court, & other institutions may discriminate against Aboriginals 4. Contact w/ Western culture has disrupted social life in many Aboriginal communities  Social forces cause Aboriginals to be incarcerated in Can Explaining Deviance & Crime  Scott Kody → 1 of the most ruthless gang leaders; later decided to reform & began a crusade against gangs  Today, there are about 85 000 gang members in L.A.  Why do deviance & crime occur? What makes crime an attractive prospect?  Motivational theories: identify the social factors that drive ppl to commit deviance & crime o What motivates ppl to break rules?  Constraint Theories: identify the social factors that impose deviance & crime on ppl o How social constraints sometimes fail to prevent rules from getting broken?  Becoming a habitual deviant/criminal is a learning process that occurs in social context Becoming Deviant: The Case of Marijuana Users  Howard S. Becker → did a study of marijuana users by doing a participant observation research o Observed & interviewed 50 jazz musicians who smoked marijuana  Found that musicians had to pass thru 3-stage learning process b4 becoming regular mari users 1. Learning to smoke the drug in a way that produces real effects 2. Learning to recognize the effects & connect them w/ drug use 3. Learning to enjoy the perceived sensation  Paranoia—loss of self control  Learning any deviant/criminal role requires a “social context”, not motive or opportunity Motivational Theories
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