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Chapter 4

Chapter4- Violence.docx

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Western University
Sociology 2140
Paul Whitehead

4- Crime and Violence January-15-13 8:17 PM 4.1 THEORY OF JUSTICE  Criminal patterns and justice systems similar around word, dramatic differences exist in international crime/violence rates - Gibraltar highest crime rates in world  Industrialized countries typically have higher rates of crime than non-industrialized  US highest rates of homicide, although rates can fluctuate year-year, trends in one direction are roughly stable o Homicide rates in CAN more than doubled over 10 yrs. to 1975, rate has gradually declined since then with some fluctuations year-year o Myth that homicide is a random act with no social determinants at work, 83% cases show victims knew attackers, 1/3 killed by family, 1/3 acquaintance, 12% ppl known through criminal activity 4.2 SOUCRES OF CRIME STATISTICS  Social life is bound together by laws- 40 000 federal/provincial statues and municipal bylaws  Constitution Act- only offenses defined by federal laws are "crimes"- single criminal code unlike US  Crime: the violation of norms that are written into laws o Offender must have acted voluntarily and with intent, no legally acceptable excuse/justification for the beh  3 major types of statistics used to measure crime: official statistics, victimization surveys and self- report offender surveys 1. Official Statistics  Canadian Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR) collects info monthly from more than 400 municipal police departments, services, agencies across CAN on 91 specific categories of crime and offenses  Information complied and published each year with counts and calculated rates per 100 000 pop'n each province/territory and CAN as whole o Number of persons charged with different types offenses  Within UCR crimes grouped into major categories- crimes of violence, property offenses  Many incidents of cram go unreported and police fail to record all crime reports received, some rates exaggerated- motivations for distortions may come from public/ political organisational pressures o EX: police crack down on drug-related crimes then reported rates will increase o Reflects change in behaviour of law enforcement not number of drug violations o Official crime statistics may be better indicator of what police are doing not criminals 2. Victimization Surveys  Ask people If they have been victims of crime  Youth tend to be considered by medial and popular opinions as dangerous/ violent even though data on youth crime does not support the negative view o Overlooked that youth are at risk for victimization in crime Correlates b/w youth before and their victimization:  o Because youth increase use of alcohol, drugs and less parental supervision as they get older they expose themselves to increased victimization risk o Youth also account for 61% all victims of sexual assault , 60% by family members o Youth witness domestic violence face increased risks to their own health, becoming abusers themselves in adulthood  Only 55% of victimization incidents reported to police and most are property offenses 3. Self-Report Offender Surveys  Asks offenders about their criminal behaviour  Sample may consist of population with known police records, prison population, respondents from general pop'n such as university students  Compensate for many problems associated with official statistics, still subject to exaggerations/concealment Many criminal acts never wind up in official crime reports: cannabis use, underage drinking,  shoplifting, private assaults, small fraud adds up to mills of dollars 4.3 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CRIME AND VIOLENCE  Some explanations of crime focus on psychological offenders- psychopathic personalities, unhealthy relationships with parents, mental illness  Other explanations focus on potential biological variables- central nervous system malfunction, stress, hormones, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, generic predisposition for aggression  Sociological theories of crime emphasize role of social factors in criminal behaviour and societal responses to it  Some theorists interested in the positive aspects of crime and deviance o Structural -functionalists - understand crime such as treason/blasphemy can encourage change in oppressive social structures and ideas in the church and state treatment of persons o Conflict Theorists/Feminists- agree lack of power some ind/groups have may necessitate breaking the law of deviating from typical behaviours in order to secure increased rights and access to privileges - property rights, personal autonomy o Symbolic Interactionist- see "Deviance" as ability for subjects to re-vision their worlds and to make new meanings out of situations o Refusing to live by the status quo can extend rights, recognition, to all members of society instead of only the powerful -gay/lesbian rights Structural -Functionalist Perspective  Crime is functional for society- strengthens group cohesion  Lead to social change- local violence can achieve improvements in city services, families, social inst  Functionalism is not a theory of crime, 3 major theories have developed from functionalism: 1. Strain Theory: when legitimate means (job) of acquiring culturally defined goals (money) are limited by the structure of society, the resulting strain may lead to crime or other deviance o Ind must adapt to inconsistency b/w means and goals in a society that socializes everyone into wanting the same thing, provides opportunities only for some o Conformity occurs when ppl accept culturally defined goals and socially legitimate means of achieving them  Innovation occurs when ind accepts goals of society but rejects/lacks socially legitimate means of achieving them- mode of adaption most associated with criminal behaviour o High rate of crime committed by uneducated/poor who lack access to legitimate means of acquiring social goals of wealth and power  Ritualism: ind accepts lifestyle of hard work, rejects cultural goal of monetary rewards- get edu, works hard yet is not committed to goal of wealth/power o Rejecting both cultural goal of success and socially legitimate means of achieving it o Withdraws/retreats from society and may become an alcoholic, addict, vagrant  Rebellion: when ind rejects both culturally defined foals and means and substitutes new goals and means- replace goal of personal wealth with social justice and equality 2. Subcultural Theory: certain groups or subcultures in society have values/attitudes that are conductive to crime/violence o Members of groups/subcultures/interact with mu adopt crime-promoting attitudes o EX: inner city youth live by survival code on streets emphasizes respect through violence 3. Control Theory: strong social bond b/w person & society constrains some ind from violating norms o For elements of social bond: attachment to significant others, commitment to conventional goals, involvement in conventional activities and belied in moral stands of society o Higher these elements/ social bond lower probability of criminal behaviour o Local community ties, varying by neighbourhood/offence decrease probability of crimes Conflict Perspective  Deviance is inevitable whenever 2 groups have differing degrees of power and the more inequality in a society, greater the crime rate in that society  Social inequality lead ind to commit crimes such as armed robbery/burglary as a means of economic survival others who are angry with low socioeconomic status may express rage through crimes such as drug abuse, assault and homicide  Those in power define what is criminal and not definitions reflect the interests of the ruling class o Laws against vagrancy penalize those who do not contribute to capitalist and consumerism  Societal beliefs also reflect power differentials - rape myths perpetuated by male dominated culture, include notion that good girls don’t get raped and yes means no o In societies with greater equality b/w men and women less rape occurs Symbolic Interactionist Perspective  Two important theories: 1. Labelling Theory: concerned with effects of labelling on the definition of a social problem (egg. Social group is considered problematic if labelled as such) and with the effects of labelling on the self-concept ad behaviour of individual (egg. Label of "delinquent" may contribute to development of a self-concept and behaviour consistent with label)  Primary deviance: deviant behavior committed before a person is caught and labelled as an offender  Secondary deviance: deviance that results from being caught and labelled o Label dominates social identity of person becomes primary basis on which person is defined by others o Leads to further deviant behaviours because (1) person who is labelled as deviant is often denied opportunities for engaging in non- deviant behaviour and (2) labelled person internalizes the deviant label adopts a deviant self-concept and acts accordingly  Differential association: holds that through interaction with others individuals learn the values, attitudes, techniques and motives for criminal behaviour o Children who see their parents benefit from crime where success is associated with illegal behaviour are more likely to engage in criminal behaviour 4.4 TYPES OF CRIME  Conventional Crime (Street Crime): traditional illegal behaviour that most people think of as crime, including such offences as murder, sexual assault, assault, armed robbery, break and enter and theft  Nonconventional Crime: organized, white-collar crime, corporate crime and computer crime Street Crime: Violent Offences  Including: homicide, attempted murder, assault, sexual assault, other sexual offences, abduction and robbery  Homicide- wilful killing of one human being by another or group of individuals, most violent and least common o Majority of homicides involve offenders known to victims not strangers as imagined o 2/3 victims are men o Most committed by marginal groups- First Nations, African Americans  Rising rats of violent crime may not result from more instances of such acts, but from the frequency of reporting and from the alternation of what counts as a criminal offence  Homicide and other crimes highest risk group for offending is 16-34  Non Sexual Assault o Common assault (level 1) o Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (level 2) o Aggravated assault , victim maimed, wounded or disfigured (level 3) o Other: peace officer, officiating member of clergy, Queen and internationally protected person  Sexual Assault- classified based on degree of physical harm o Sexual assault (level 1) o Sexual assault- with weapon, threats to third party, causing bodily harm (level 2) o Aggravated sexual assault- offender, in committing a sexual assault, wounds, mains, disfigures, or endangers the life of the victim  Costs of impaired driving in terms of life loss is significant, collective attitude toward it is that it’s a tragic mistake rather than criminal behavior and sentencing remains comparatively lenient compared with other crimes  Acquaintance rape: rape that is committed by someone known by the victim - does not appear in criminal code o Most likely to occur, least likely to be reported and most difficult to prosecute  Classic rape: rape committed by a stranger with the use of a weapon resulting in serious bodily injury o Victims hesitate to report, afraid they wont be believed o Use of "rape drugs" render victims unconscious , may lower reporting levels even further  1/10 assaults reported each year  Robbery distinguished from theft because it involves force, threat of force or making a victim fearful- violent crime o Most committed without a weapon and by young people Street Crime: Property Offences  Involve acts committed with indent to gain property without the use or threatened use of violence o Includes: theft, breaking/entering, motor vehicle theft, fraud, possession of stolen property o Youth most involved in crimes against property- break/enter, theft, vandalism, mischief  Youth most likely to engage in crimes against property o Not having access to property of their own may lead those with stigma of having less to acquire it illegitimately o Poor connections to family and community, seek belonging by joining others who engage in property crimes Vice Crimes  Vice crime aka. "Victimless crime"  Victimless Crime: illegal activity, such as prostitution or drug use, that has no complaining party  Prostitution not illegal in CAN, however it is an offence to publicly communicate with others for purpose of buying/selling sexual services o Law not evenly applied to buyers/sellers- women charged likely from socially disadvantaged positions with little recourse to strong legal defence whereas male clients pay a fine or attend "john school" (treat women)  Organized Crime: criminal activity conducted by members of a hierarchically arranged structure devoted primarily to making money through illegal means o Criminal organization as group of 5+ persons- "mafia" o Use coercive techniques- EX: groups may force legitimate businesses to pay "protection money" by threatening vandalism or violence o Occurs at international level such as smuggling illegal drugs and arms Corporate Crime  Corporate crime: includes occupational cri
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