Criminology: Reading notes 9/12/2012 7:18:00 AM
The social Reality of crime
Chapter 1: A Theory of Crime
- until recent times writings and studies were based on the criminal itself,
recently the focus has been changed and it has been discovered that crime
is relative to different legal systems.
- many criminologists now concentrate on how criminal definitions are
constructed and applied in society.
- there are two schools of thought when it comes to crime
- one school of thought concentrates on their beliefs that crime is properly
studied by concentrating on the offender and their actions and behaviors
while the other school of thought concentrates on criminal law and how it is
enforced administered and formulated.
- these two schools of thought in fact compliment each other.
- ontology, is what is the world really like? We have no reason to believe in
the objective existence of anything therefore we must create theories that
give meaning to our experience.
- Epistemology, we as observers cannot copy anything that may be regarded
as objective reality.
- our observations are based on our own mental constructions
- causation, a lot of criminological theory is based on positivistic
assumptions which has sought to explain the cause of crime.
- there Is a strategy with causation
- this strategy has three parts
- The first is that the explanation not be the soul interest of criminologists.
The goal is not to form and verify theories of causation but to create an
order among observables.
- second, a statement of causation doesn‟t necessarily state the nature of
the reality but the methodological constructions of the observer
- third we must not use the causational construct as it has often been
applied in physical science.
- appropriate structure of a thory is far from certain in sociology
- we lack criteria for building theories - Homans has suggested a theory must consist of propositions that suggest
relationships and form a deductive system
- we cant ignore theories without deductive this can be probalistic, functional
- propositions must be consistent with one another and must be integrated
into a system.
- the conclusion drawn from one proposition must not contradict that of the
- proposition also must be testable, validity must be determined by
subsequent research and they also must be useful, enabling us to
understand the problem that inspired us to formulate a theory.
- propositions must be positioned in a way that they express relationships
that are both coexistent and sequential thus showing that patterns of
phenomena develop over a period of time.
Assumptions: man and society in a theory of crime
- in studying any social phenomena we must hold to some general
- two of those used by sociologists are the static and dynamic interpretations
- theory in book is based on dynamic theory
- based on four assumptions about man and society
- process, conflict, power and social action
- process, dynamic aspect of social relations may be referred to as social
process. Social phenomena fluctuates continually.
- conflict, in any society conflict is inevitable, they are the normal
consequence of social life.
- conflict is especially prevalent in societies with diverse value systems and
-in the consensus model of society we describe social structure as
functionally integrated system held together by equilibrium
- in the conflict model we find that societies and social organizations are
shaped by diversity, coercion and change.
- Dahrendorf characterized the difference between these two… according to
him we assume that society is a 1) relatively persistent, stable structure. 2)
it is well integrated 3) every element has a functions and helps maintain the system and 4) a functions social structure is based on a consensus or
- for the conflict model of society we assume that 1) every point of society is
subject to change 2) at every point there is conflict and 3) every element
contributes to change and 4) it is based on coercion of some of its members
- in summation society is held together by force and constraint and is
characterized by conflicts which result in constant change
- it is likely that we will find consensus and stability in society between
- conflict doesn‟t always have to disrupt society
- it promotes co operations, establishes group boundaries and unites social
- power, is the basic characteristic of social organization
- this means in every social organization some positions are trusted with the
right to exercise control over other positions
- differential distribution of power produces conflict between competing
- power and the allocation of values are key in developing public policy
- social actions, mans actions are purposeful and meaningful
Theory: the social reality of crime
- this theory contains six propositions and a number of statements within the
- the first proposition defines crime
- the next four are explanatory units
- the final proposition collects the other five to form a descriptions of the
reality of crime
- proposition 1, crime is a definition of human conduct that is created by
authorized agents in a politically organized society. This is the starting point
of the theory
- it is a definition of crime
- crime is a behavior that is conferred on some persons by others
- legislators, police and prosecutors are responsible for formulating and
administering criminal law -persons and behaviors therefore become criminal because of the
formulation and application of criminal definitions, thus crime is created.
- crime is not inherent in the behavior but is a judgment made by some
about actions and characteristics by others.
- this proposition allows us to focus on the formulation and administrations
of criminal law as it touches upon the behaviors that become defined as
- proposition 2, criminal definitions describe behaviours that conflict with the
interests of the segments of society that have the power to shape public
- criminal definitions are formulated according to the interests of different
social groups of society which have the power to translate their interests into
- these interests are those which are treasured by dominant groups
- this is one of the most obvious manifestations of conflict in society.
- some segments of society protect and perpetuate their own interests which
may be in conflict with the interests of another group.
- laws also change with the modification in the interest structure….so when
the interests that underlie a criminal code no longer are relevant to a groups
power the law will be looked over and changed.
- Proposition 3, ( application of criminal definitions) criminal definitions are
applied by the segments of society that have the power to shape the
enforcement and administration of criminal law
- powerful interests intervene in all stages of which criminal definitions are
- enforcement and administrations of the law are necessary because
interests cannot be protected by merely creating laws
-Propositions 4, (development of behavior patterns in relation to criminal
- behavior patterns are developed in segmentally organized society in
relation to criminal definitions and within this context persons engage in
actions that have relative probabilities of being defined as criminal.
- individuals are provided with a frame work for developing personality
behaviors and personal action patterns.
- patterns of actions are developed through interactions with others - it also depends on three other factors: their structured opportunities,
learning experiences, interpersonal associations and self conception
- through our experiences each person creates a social conception of
- if you are constantly defines as a criminal you will then self define and act
as a criminal would.
- proposition 5, the construction of criminal conceptions
- the real world is a social construction, man with the help of others creates
the world in which he lives
- this is also created based on the knowledge they develop and idea they are
exposed to… man behaves in reference to the social meanings he attaches to
- proposition 6, the social reality of crime
- the formulation and application of criminal definitions
- the five propositions can be collected into a composite
- the theory accordingly describes and explains the phenomena that increase
the probability of crime in society resulting in the social reality of crime
- the first proposition is a definition and the sixth is a composite the body of
the theory is held in the middle four propositions
Diagram Connecting Propositions: Formulation of criminal Application of criminal
construction of development of Behavior
Criminal Patterns in relations to
Conceptions Criminal definitions
CHAPTER 2: FORMULATIONS OF CRIMINAL DEFINITIONS
Study of Criminal Law:
- we do not have greater theoretical understanding of criminology and legal
matters than we did a century ago .
- Roscoe Pound was the principal figure in Sociological Jurisprudence
- Legal philosophy influences by early sociologists was a major force in
American legal thought
-Roscoe Pound believed that law was a specialized form of social control that
brings pressure upon each man
- pound provided one of the few starting points for the study of law as a
- groups and their opinions have been studied by no studies have been on
how these opinions from these groups influence the laws which are made
and administered to society - no sociologists to date have neither paid any attention nor rejected pounds
- pounds approach requires formulation and extension into a sociological
theory of criminal law
From sociological Jurisprudence to Sociology of Criminal Law:
- law is both a social product and a social force
- ir reflects society and influences it
- The consensus model of criminal law is another one of pounds theories
- believed that law represents the consciousness of the total society
- pound also believed law reflected the needs of a well ordered society; we
call this his theory of interests
- he believed that law was a form of social engineering
- interests pound had in mind would maintain and ultimately improve the
- law regulates social behavior and establishes social organization, it
restrains individual actions by settling disputes in social relations
- law works in two ways, one to exablish the rules of the game, to establish
the way you life will go and two to adjust conflicting claims .
- in pounds theory of interest, law provides the general framework within
which individual and group life is carried on according to the norms of social
- in the interest theory of sociological jurisprudence, law is an instrument
that controls interests according to the requirements of social order
- Pounds theory of interests included a threefold classification which
included; the individual, the public, and the social
- he warned most overlap and can be placed in all three classifications at the
same time depending on your purpose
- in looking at the claims demand and desires pound found that most
proceedings in legislation were interest which involve security against
actions that threaten a social group
- pound believed any legal system depended on the way in which these were
incorporated into the law
- the authors theoretical perspective on criminal law is different from the
traditional interest theory of sociological jurisprudence for many reasons - firstly, his theory is based on a special concept of society. He believed
society is characterized by diversity conflict coercion and change rather than
consensus and stability
- second, author believes law is the result of operation of interests, rather
than something that works outside of interests. Though law controls interest
it is first created by interest of society
- Third, the author believes the law incorporates the interests of certain
persons or groups, not the product of the entire society. The law is made by
men with interests who have the power to translate their interests into
public policy, it is NOT a compromise of the interests of society.
Law in Politically organized society:
- authority is present in all social collectives
- someone is always at the command of you
- as order is established several systems of control develop to regulate
conduct of various groups or persons
- control systems vary considerably in terms of what behaviors the regulate
- the legal system is the most explicit form of social control.
- the law consists of ; a) specific rules of conduct, b) planned use of
sanctions to support the rules and c) designated officials to interpret and
enforce the rules.
- as systems of control in society get more complex the law is more and
more important to this system- law is more than a system of formal control,
it is a body of specialized rules created in a politically organized society with
the authorized power to govern lives and activities of its inhabitants.
- only specialized rule systems of politically organized societies are regarded
- law is an integral part of society, it is a social product
- the law Is also a method or process of doing something, it is continuously
being created and interpreted
- In law, the values of some are necessarily assured and the values of others
are either ignored or negated.
- this shows us that the law only concentrates on the values and views of
some and not of the majority.
The Interest structure: - society is characterized by the organization of differences.
- this social differentiation provides for the basis of the states political life.
- governments in a politically organized society operates on the interests of
- therefore politically organized society can be viewed as a differentiated
- each segment of society has its own values, norms and ideological
orientations. These things all together are defined as interests and are vital
for the survival of that segment of society.
- there are six orders in which interests operate; those are the political, the
economic, the religious, the kinship, the educational and the public
a) the political;
- regulates the distribution of power in society
b) the economic;
- regulates the production and distribution of goods
c) the religious;
- regulates the relationship of man to a conception of the supernatural
d) the kinship;
- regulates sexual relations, family patterns and the procreation and rearing
e) the educational;
- regulates the formal training of society‟s members
f) the public;
- the protection and maintenance of a community and its citizens
- each of these categories have two types of interests … the first is formal
interests and the second is active interests
- formal interests; are advantageous to the segment but are not organized
- Active interests; manifest to persons in the segment and are sufficiently
organized to serve as the basis for representations in policy decisions.
-Interest groups are groups of people which become aware and organize to
promote their common interest - The interest structure is characterized by the unequal distribution of power
and conflict among the segments of society. Therefore these segments are
in continual conflict over their interests and who‟s interests will be
represented in society.
- power and conflict are connected in the concept of the interest structure.
- power is the ability to shape a public policy and produces conflict among
the competing segments.
- coherence in the interest structure is therefore expressed by exercising
force and constraint in each segment.
-The conflict- power conception of the interest structure implies that public
policy results from distributions of power and conflict among the segments
of society… in other words diverse segments of society become so powerful
that they are able to influence laws created in society.
- hence public policy is created because segments with power are in conflict
with one another.
Formulation and Administration of Criminal Law:
- regulates behavior and activities of all members of society.
- formulated and administered by those segments of society which are able
to incorporate their interests into the creation and interpretations of public
- rather than representing the interests of all members of society, law only
represents the interests of particular segments.
- it supports one point of view at the expense of another
represents the segments with the power to shape public policy
- because of this some segments are able to control others for their own
- legal interests take place within the context of changing interest structure
in society. FREEDOM WRITINGS FROM DEATH ROW 9/12/2012 7:18:00 AM
Finding Freedom: Writings from Death row
- masters was moved around from foster home to foster home
- he went on a crime spree when he was release from foster care ( held up
stores ect. )
- he was sent to prisons and got caught up in a prison gang
- on trial for sharpening a piece of metal which was then passed down and
later used to kill a Sargent by another inmate.
- was sentenced to death in the gas chamber because of his violent past
- he is the only man on death row living in his crime scene
- writer writes with Jarvis about himself and his time in the prison
- first person he meets in San quintin is a guy named Pops looking for his
- Social Realities of crime 9/12/2012 7:18:00 AM
Strain Theories (consensus and Conflict Approach)
(Strain theory is when people are exposed to cultural goals they are unable
to reach with the means they are provided with, ex. Going to university if
you are poor)
What is Anomie Theory?
-Term founded by Emile Durkheim
- Used to describe an absence of clear societal norms
- Merton used this to describe the phenomena of people adopting deviant
means to achieve goals beyond their means
- self- interest rather than societal norms control behaviors
- Used to explain dictatorship countries
Examples, robbing a bank to buy a sports car you cant afford.
Merton and Durkheim
- believed crime was a gap between cultural prescribed aspirations and the
means for attaining those aspirations.
- in American, they argued these are attaining money and status that rsults
from material wealth.
- not being able to attain there causes strain
Main theorists in social strain theory and Anomie:
- Emile Durkheim
- Robert Merton
- doesn‟t elp us explain lower crime rates of women
- only helps us explain higher crime rates of marginalized people or
- he only takes into account difference of opportunity that arise from social
class… what about gender?
Modern Day use:
- used to study material wealth in todays society
- study where wallets were lost with $50 in them … 44% of wallets
disappeared by In Denmark and Norway all the wallets were returned.. does every different society create a climate that produces more good Samaritans
than others ?
- crime like any social behavior is learned in association with others
- you are who you regularly associate with
- you learn relevant skills of committing crimes and ideas and ways of
The Consensus Approach:
What is Consensus approach?
- also known as functionalism
-believe family, education, government, religion and economy all contribute
to the normal running of society. Crime occurs when something unusual
happens to the flow of these things mentioned, this results in strain, stress
- believes that maintaining a certain state of society is the common interest
- Believes law represents the consensus of people
- Law is a codification of values shared by most members of society
-Society agrees that certain acts should be prohibited by criminal law.
- Support for consensus theory is that there is a broad agreement that many
laws particularly regarding street crime such as robbery burglary and murder
should be prohibited by law.
- these laws only look out for a small interest group (powerful and wealthy;
those powerful enough to shape the laws made)
History of Consensus Approach:
- Many European settlers in the United States were puritans who left
England for the colony of Massachusetts so they could be free to practice
their own religious beliefs
- Some capital crime was idolatry, witchcraft etc.
- This shows how values or religious values become codified in law The Conflict Approach:
What is the conflict approach?
- questions assumptions of the consensus theory; says laws reflect the
interests of the groups that create and enforce those laws .
- argues consensus protects not the majority but rather the most powerful.
- These theorists don‟t not think that this reflects a consensus of the
members of society. This is majorly outlines in the class conflict theorists
- They believe laws are passed by ruling class to maintain their privileged
position by keeping the common people under control.
- Activities that threaten those in power are viewed as illegal
- These laws benefit the powerful at the expense of the average folk/ the
Historical Use of Conflict Approach:
- An example of this is Reed using the legal system to control the number of
aboriginals people moving around who he believed presented a threat to
those holding power.
- Another example is the one mentioned in class where the king had to
protect the goods his carrier was transporting to the merchants… The
famous carrier case
- The law that protected your goods, services and property was created to
protect the merchant class from being robbed.
Cultural Conflict Theory:
- when individuals act on norms of their group which are in direct violation of
the norms of a dominant group
Group Conflict Theory:
- interests groups or social groupings attempt to protect their own interests
by influencing the creation or enforcement of criminal laws. - outlined in Quinneys Propositions
Quinney’s Conflict theory of crime:
- quinney presents 6 (5) propositions hat outline his conflict theory of crime
- Easiest way to look at Quinney is like a chemistry experiment
- he has a proposition he puts forward and then proofs to prove the
Proposition 1: crime is a definition of human conduct that is created by
authorized agents In a politically organized society.
- therefore one cause of crime is the law
- this proposition shows a radical side of Quinney
- this theory rejects consensus theory and the theory of universalism
(FILL IN FROM LECTURE NOTES )
Proposition 2: Criminal definitions describe behaviors that conflict with
segments of society that have the power to shape public policy
- in other words you are criminal or delinquent if you engage in activity that
is frowned upon by people of higher power.
- political scientists have documented the role of the powerful interest in the
formulation of laws
- laws are formulated to protect the powerful
- laws support the interest of some at the expense of the other, therefore
this is not consensus at all
- these interests can be political, economic, religious, educational or public.
- Quinney goes on to talk about the criminal person but also how it is linked
to the law and how the law is created and enforced.
- Quinney shows that criminal law is largely and elite enterprise… use to
protect the elite from the middle and lower class of society
- conflict theorists use this to argue that laws are not universal and interest
and power based.
- an example Is Sunday laws. Catholic Religion was and still is dominant in
society and we see this with store hours ect. Proposition 3: Criminal definitions are applied by the segments of society
that have to power to enforce the administration of criminal law
- this is the application of criminal definitions
- applying and enforcing the laws… not the creation of them
- he argues that in Canadian society its impossible to have full enforcement
of all laws because we don‟t have the resources to do so.
- Not enough police officers, jail cells ect.
- enforcement also varies if you live in a rural area versus city
- also varies in terms of police culture or race
- Parole versus Probation
- you are eligible for parole if your sentence is more than 6 months in length
- you go to federal jail if your sentence is more than two years
- provincial jail if your sentence is two years less a day
Proposition 4: Behvaior patters are structured segmentaly organized society
in relation to criminal defintions and within this contect persons engage in
actions that have probabilities in being defines as criminal
- development of behvaiour patters is related to criminal defintions
- your social organization
- different probabilities of becoming criminal
- rates of crime vary by social organization (Sutherland)
- there are three social factors of being defined criminal which make up a
1. Age sex structure:
- age 15-25
-male ( males as mentioned before or more risk takers, more aggressive)
2. Social class structure:
- people of lower classes over represented in jails
- people locked up usually come from socially disorganized backgrounds
- particularly lower class gangs, young men of colour ect.
- higher law enforcement for these men
3. Ethic Racial Structure of society - people of colour arrested 3-4x more that white people
- people of colour also likely tobe denied bail
- aboriginal 30x more likely to be arrested
- these three factors act together to create the stereotypical criminal (young
male of colour in a lower class po