Chapter One: Crime and Criminology

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses
Scot Wortley

WDW205H Textbook Notes Chapter One: Crime and Criminology - Crime Touches all segments of society - Involves acts that chock the conscience and others that seem relatively harmless - Research indicates that habitually aggressive behaviour is often learned in homes in which children are victimized and parents serve as aggressive role models (learned violence persists in childhood) - Public fear of crime: important barometer of social health and how people feel about their communities Criminology & Deviance - Pg.7 : Hagan’s Varieties of Deviance: depicts relationships between crime and deviance - three dimensions: evaluation of social harm, level of agreement about the norm and the severity of societal response Classical Criminology Pg. 10 - Cesare Beccaria: Italian aristocrat whose writings described both a motive for committing crime and methods for its control - Believed that people want to achieve pleasure and avoid pain - Classical criminology: 1. in every society, people have free will to choose criminal or lawful solutions to meet their needs of settle their problems 2. criminal solutions may be more attractive than lawful ones because they usually require less work for a greater payoff 3. people’s choice of criminal solutions may be controlled by their fear of punishment 4. the more severe, certain and swift the punishment, the better able it is to control criminal behaviour - “let the punishment fit the crime” Nineteenth Century Positivism Pg. 11 - Positivism developed inspired by new discoveries in biology, astronomy and chemistry 1. belief that human behaviour is a function of external forces that are beyond individual control 2. use of scientific method to solve problems Cesare Lombroso and the Criminal Man Pg.12 - Lombrosian theory: offenders are born criminals, inherit criminal traits that impel them into a life of crime - Born criminals suffer from atavistic anomalies (traits) : physically they are throwbacks to more primitive times, when people were savages The Development of Sociological Criminology L. A. J. Quetlet - began cartographic school of criminology - Most important finding was that social forces were significantly correlated with crime rates Emile Durkheim - vision of social positivism: crime is normal because it has existed in every age, in both poverty and prosperity - crime is essential in society because it is virtually impossible to imagine a society in which criminal behaviour is totally absent - as long as human differences exist, crime is inevitable, serving as a symbolic reminder of moral boundaries - existence of crime implies that a way is open for social change and that the social structure is not rigid or inflexible - anomie arises because of rural societies (mechanical) shift to modern societies (organic) The Chicago School and McGill School Pg. 14 - Robert Ezra Park, Ernest W. Burgess and Louis Wirth: inspired a generation of scholars to conclude that social forces operating in urban areas create criminal interactions (Chicago School) - 1930s: social psychologists argued that the individual’s relationship to education, family life and peer relations is the key to understanding human behaviour - Criminality is linked to the lack of socialization Conflict Criminology - Marx: the character of society is determined by the way people develop and produce material goods - Important relationship is between the owners (bourgeoisie) + means of production (proletariat) - Marx believed exploitation of working class would eventually lead to class conflict - Sociologists who applied Marx principles created conflict oriented radical criminology of 1970s - Economic system for producing the conditions that support a high crime rate Criminology Today Pg. 15 - Conflict criminologists: see social and political conflict as the root cause of crime - Inherently unfair economic structure of advanced capitalist countries is the engine that drives the high crime rate (1) lack of resources causes the poor to commit crimes (prostitution (2) powerful are able to define the actions of the poor as crime - criminology: has a rich history that still exerts an important influence on the thinking of its current practitioners What Criminologists Do: The Criminological Enterprise - Criminologists are primarily interested in studying crime and criminal behaviour - Concept summary Pg. 16 1.2 “The Major Perspectives of Criminology” Criminal Statistics Pg. 16 - Criminal statistics: involves measuring the amount and trends of criminal activity - Try to create valid and reliable measurements of criminal behaviour - Study of criminal statistics is one of the most crucial aspects of the criminological enterprise: without valid and reliable data courses, efforts to conduct research on crime and create criminological theories would be futile Sociology of Law Pg. 17 - Sociology of law: another subarea of criminology; concerned with the role that social forces play in shaping criminal law and role of criminal law in shaping society - Criminologists partake in updating content of criminal law - Law must be flexible and respond to changing times and conditions Theory Construction - Theory construction: why do people engage in criminal acts? - May be concerned with social, physical, psychological, political factors; criminologists are not completely sure Criminal Behaviour Systems Pg. 20 - involves research on specific criminal types and patterns (violent crime, theft crime, public order crime and organized crime) - white collar crime: business related offences - study of criminal behaviour also involves research on the links between different types of crime and criminals (crime typology) - Typologists: focus on the criminal such as professional criminals, psychotic criminals, occasional criminals etc. Penology - penology: correction and control of criminal offenders - formulate new strategies for crime control and then help implement these policies - this view portrays the criminal as someone whom society has failed; someone under social, psychological or economic stress; someone who can be helped if society is willing to pay the price - others argue that crime can be prevented only through a strict policy of social control Victimology - Hentig and Schafer: identified the critical role of the victim in the criminal process - Suggest victim behaviour is often a key determinant of crime, victim’s actions may precipitate or provide an opportunity for crime - Study of crime is not complete unless the victim’s role is considered The Consensus View of Crime Pg. 21 - criminal law: thought to reflect the values, beliefs and opinions of society - Sutherland and Cressey: implies that the definition of crime is a function of beliefs, morality and direction of social authorities and is applied uniformly to everyone in society - Consensus model of crime: accepted by many criminologists, argue over whether the law is applied uniformly The Conflict View of Crime - conflict view of crime: depicts society as a collection of diverse groups (owners, workers, professionals, students) who are at a constant and continuing conflict - criminal laws are created to protect the haves from the have nots - Conflict theorist would see the following as crimes: violations of human rights, unsafe working conditions, inadequate childcare, inadequate opportunities for employment and education, substandard housing etc. The Interactionist View of Crime - interactionist: based in the symbolic interaction school of sociology: Mead, Cooley and Thomas (1) people act according to their own interpretations of reality, according to the meaning things have for them (2) they learn the meaning of a thing from the way others react to it either positively or negatively (3) re-evaluate and interpret their own behaviour according to t
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