Sociology of Crime .pdf - Sociology of Crime notes Week 1 Introduction 1 What is criminology \u201cCriminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as

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Unformatted text preview: Sociology of Crime notes Week 1: Introduction 1. What is criminology? “Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws . . . The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general and verified principles and of other types of knowledge regarding this process of law, crime, and treatment” (Sutherland and Cressey, 1939) Processes of making laws -­‐ Includes the sociology of law, study of how and why societies define certain behaviors or activities as criminal, and study of the effects of these in people’s lives Breaking laws -­‐ Includes the study of why people break laws (theories of crime causation) Reacting toward the breaking of laws -­‐ Includes the study of social responses to crime police, the courts and corrections, but also other peripheral responses such as treatment, etc. The role of theory in Criminology “The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general and verified principles and of other types of knowledge regarding this process of law, crime, and treatment.” 1. The purpose of much of criminology is not just to describe phenomena, but to explain them 2. “A theory is a set of interrelated constructs (concepts), definitions, and propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables, with the purpose of explaining and predicting phenomena” Kerlinger (1986:9) 1. What is Crime? Definitions of crime are always contextual. Sociologists recognize that, with few exceptions, what may be considered a crime in one society or culture may be within the boundaries of accepted social and legal behavior in another. Crime is ALWAYS socially defined. How to define what constitutes “crime” is thus a central concern of criminologists Formal and legal definition Crime as Breaking the Law Crime defined by legislative codes that identify certain behaviours as punishable by the state This is the most common definition, and also the most problematic one for criminologists Problems with the formal/legal definition: 1. Crime becomes whatever the state says it is 2. State definitions may fail to capture or address serious harms 3. State definitions may be beholden to specific political or social interests Crime as a Social Harm Focus on what Sutherland (1949) called actions that go against the “common welfare of society.” - Crime as “analogous to social injury” -­‐ White Collar Crime - Professional Crime Seeks to find a broader definition of crime less wedded to state definitions and more inclusive of actions that cause social injury Contemporary Examples: - - Corporate Crimes - Green Criminology Sociology of Crime notes Crime as Deviance/ Norm Violation Crime as Human Rights Violations Emerges out of the problems of statelessness, genocide, and gross human rights violations in the 20th century 1. Forged in the problem of post-­‐WWII in terms of prosecuting crimes against stateless people (Jewish people and other stripped of citizenship) and crimes against groups of people (i.e. genocide) 2. Expands Sutherland’s notion of social harms to focus on cases and crimes where the state itself is the offender Seeks to question and problematize why criminology has focused to such a high degree on individual or group crimes while largely ignoring state crimes: “Criminology is a modern academic discipline devoted to the study of crime . . . that has largely ignored that range of mass murders, rapes and associated atrocities, that destruction of people and their culture, which have been loosely placed under the rubric of the term `genocide.’ While there have been some recent attempts to incorporate the study of genocide, or at least to comment on its absence, criminology, as a mainstream discipline, operates oblivious to genocide.” 2. Perspectives on the Etiology of Crime Aetiologies of Crime Crime as Sin The oldest perspective, at least in the West (but still very much present in the modern world) Roots in the Judeo-­‐Christian histories that eventually overtook pagan Europe after the fall of Rome Crime is equated with sin or transgression; in the west specifically, it is equated with evil, temptation, and the devil The Demonic Perspective Body and Soul In the demonic perspective the body and the soul are seen as fundamentally distinct, or even at odds, with one another. As Pfohl (25) notes, in this perspective, there is “nothing particularly sacred about the body. In a world which gave primacy to supernatural imagery there was little profit in preserving the body at the expense of the soul.” Sociology of Crime notes Classical Explanations Cesare Bessaria Main theoretical premise of Beccaria’s work (Crime and Punishments, 1764) followed the arguments of Hobbes, Rousseau, etc. in arguing for the desirability of a social contract between people and their governors Beccaria’s work, however was primarily concerned with what happens when people break this contract. For a punishment to be just it should consist of only such gradations of intensity as suffice to deter men from committing crimes -­‐ C. Beccaria Argued that the most effective response to violations of the social contract was punishment The beginning of modern deterrence theory Assumes that most people seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, and that crime can be best reduced through: • Certainty of being caught for criminal acts • Swiftness of punishment • Severity of punishment Pathological Explanations Late 19th century sees a shift from classical explanations to biological (and later psychological) explanations of deviance. Cesare Lombroso publishes The Criminal Man in 1876. Lombroso studied the cadavers of executed criminals, as well as spent time researching prisoners, and determined that serious criminal activity was probably an inherited trait. Lombroso’s work is often called atavistic theory or simply atavism, for the notion that criminals could be identified by physical traits that in part explained their life of crime Lombroso’s work is classified as a form of biological determinism, an approach that eventually fell out of favor, but has recently again made some headway with the study of genetics. 3. The major Sociological Paradigms of Functionalism, Social Conflict theory and Symbolic Interactionalism. Sociological explanations Three major sociological paradigms: 1. Functionalism (sometimes called structural functionalism) 2. Social Conflict 3. Symbolic Interactionism The first two are considered “macro” paradigms while the latter is considered a “micro” paradigm” Functionalism The structural-­‐functional paradigm is a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability It asserts that our lives are guided by social structures (relatively stable patterns of social behavior over time). Society is thought of as a system or a whole “The major hypothesis in sociological functionalism is that recurrent social processes serve the function of maintaining a social system. With the larger whole as the unit of analyses, a social pattern is studied in terms of its functions or the positive part it plays in the adaptation and persistence of the system” Traub and Little Each social structure has social functions, or consequences, for the operation of society as a whole. Sociology of Crime notes The “big five” social structures that sociologists often look at are: 1. Politics 2. Education 3. Religion 4. Family 5. Economy Functionalism – Basic assumptions 1. ALL societies share basic or common “parts” that meet the needs of its members 2. All parts or “social structures” are intertwined 3. Societies generally gravitate towards equilibrium or stability. There are exceptions – societies that are too rigid, or societies that do not meet basic needs 4. Society is always evolving (although not necessarily in a moral sense) Social Conflict theories The social-­‐conflict paradigm is a framework for building theory that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change. It conceives of society less as a single whole or system, and more as the outcome of social conflict and inequality. The notion of POWER is central to conflict theory, what is it, who has it, and why. Most sociologists who favor the conflict paradigm attempt not only to understand society but also to reduce social inequality. “Marx set out not merely to prove that the interests of the two basic classes of bourgeois society were antagonistic (this had been recognized by the leading bourgeois thinkers as well as in the practice of the working class), but to uncover the historical roots of this antagonism.” -­‐ Geoff Pilling Symbolic Interactionism The symbolic-­‐interaction paradigm is a framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals. The structural-­‐functional and the social-­‐conflict paradigms share a macro-­‐level orientation, meaning that they focus on broad social structures that shape society as a whole. In contrast, symbolic-­‐interactionism has a micro-­‐level orientation; it focuses on patterns of social interaction in specific settings Term was coined by Herbert Blumer in 1969 Argued that there were three basic propositions: 1. "Human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things." 2. "The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society." 3. "These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretive process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters." Sociology of Crime notes Tutorial week 1 Marx views crime as the result of economic imbalance. Economic power creates a societal classes. Within the societal classes there are those with economic wealth who have the economic resources to also have political power. An individual’s relationship between the structures and functions of society and the collective values and norms held within the society. According to Durkheim, crime is defined by the collective group of a society and occurs when individuals become detached from societal functions, structures, and beliefs. Durkheim argues that crime is a part of societal norms. Within the broader context, societal functions are maintained within the societal institutions of politics, religion, education, family and economics. All institutions working within a democratic framework for the greater good of the society as a whole. However, within society there is always an element of unrest, non-­‐conformity and crime. Durkheim suggests, such behaviour is a societal norm, resulting from a breakdown within societal institutions. Creating an element of what is right/wrong, good/bad within the broader aspect of society and what measures should be set in place to deter/prevent the reoccurrence of the deviant behaviour. Weber would see crime as as being related to power and influence in society such as government, state and group. Sociology of Crime notes Week 2: What do we know about Crime and how? 1. How Sociologists measure crime When criminologists talk about “measuring crime,” they are talking about quantitative data. Quantitative data is necessary for inferential research, and much of criminology is interested in making inferences about larger populations. Other criminologists do qualitative work, which is less concerned with making inferences than it is with exploring new areas of criminological study, looking at how people understand and interpret crime, etc. Some criminologists also used what is called “mixed-­‐methods” research, where they explore aspects of crime using both qualitative and quantitative data Official Data Official Data -­‐ comes from governmental agencies; used to measure crime and crime control. • Arguably the most well-­‐known is the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report • In Australia, data is recorded by the police, and compiled and reported by the AIC • Criminologists use data official data in three forms: -­‐ As raw data (least common as it tells us little) -­‐ As data per 100,000 or 1,000 people -­‐ As percentage data Today, criminologists still use and rely on official data. However, this data used with recognized limitations and biases: 1. Problems in reporting practices 2. Problems in law enforcement practices 3. Methodological problems in the reports themselves Sociology of Crime notes Problems in Reporting Practices Other types of crime data suggest that many types of crimes are underreported to the police. Victim data suggests this may be as high as 20 to 1 (unreported v reported) for some types of offenses. What are some of the reasons people would not report crimes to the police? -­‐ Lack of Trust -­‐ Lack of Belief in Efficacy -­‐ Fear -­‐ Culpability -­‐ Shame -­‐ Subcultures Problems in Enforcing Practices Methodological Problems Different police departments have different formal and Accurate population counts. Reliance on accurate census data informal rules and regulations regarding the recording and Recording strategies reporting of criminal activities. What counts as Crime? -­‐ Urban/suburban/rural -Ex. Domestic Violence -­‐ Policing strategies and philosophies - Ex. UCR not counting male rape -­‐ Technology (e.g. the “beat cop” and the “patrol unit”) Self-report Data Surveys administered to sample populations that Victimisation Data measure attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and Victim surveys are widely seen by criminologists as a redress to demographic data. some of the problems of official data Almost always anonymous in so far as their While no reporting method is without problems, victim surveys usefulness depends on the assumption that people reveal that many more crimes are committed than are ever will be more honest when they cannot be reported to the police. identified. This is called the problem of the “dark figure” of crime, or the Central way that criminologists measure long recognized problem in criminology that much more crime unreported criminal behavior, substance abuse, exists than is ever know to authorities or to researchers. domestic violence, etc. The most well-known victim survey is the National Crime Also useful in the evaluation what Siegel (2004: Victimization Survey (NCVS) - surveys of households conducted 53) calls, “the distribution of criminal behavior by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the US. across racial, class and gender lines.” Australia has only more recently started to systematically collect Early self-reporting surveys, beginning in the and record victim data 1940s, found a markedly broader distribution of Queensland also has a victimization survey crime across socio-economic strata than as Australia also participates in the International Crime Victims reflected in official data. Survey. Why? because official data measures “policing” Self-report surveys also have methodological Problems with Victimization Data problems Over-reporting and underreporting both occur, for different – Validating respondent’s answers (which can reasons. be done in some cases) – Problems of variance in how people interpret questions Australia has no general or comprehensive self-report – Sampling problems survey on crime – Those with the most to lose (i.e. those who Several individual studies using this method in Australian have committed the most crimes or more research National Drug Strategy Household Survey serious crimes) are the least likely to answer types of Data honestly. Other Research: Longitudinal and Retrospective This last problem is significant when we Cohort consider that much of violent crime is committed Experimental Research by a small number of individuals Observational and Interview Research Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review Data Mining Crime Mapping Sociology of Crime notes Triangulation Finally, even though each reporting method differs in terms of reliability and findings, there is some degree of compatibility in terms of measuring crime rates, as well as ascertaining characteristics of serious criminals. Criminologists know this because they use different data sources and methods to measure similar trends and patterns – much like surveyors use different locations to “triangulate” their location 2. Crime Factors Crime Factors: demographics Age – Perhaps the most obvious and well-established variable related to crime Younger people commit more crimes. As a population ages (as ours is right now), crime rates decrease (Loeber & Farrington, 2014) Gender – Men commit more crimes than women, especially violent crimes Crime Factors: Economy The Economy - another indicator that is often linked to crime rates (i.e. a slow economy leads to increased crime rates) This connection is not so well established. – Links between marginal increases in unemployment and crime are moderate for property crime, less for violent crimes 1987; Raphael & Winter-Ebmer, 2001) (Chiricos, – Links between protracted and/or prolonged rates of unemployment and crime more pronounced, for example the Great Depression Crime Factors: Economy 1. People who have lost jobs generally don’t turn to serious crime 2. People that have experienced prolonged hardships may see crime as an attractive option 3. People who are politically disenfranchised and have little hope of getting decent jobs are more likely to see the only option crime as Crime Factors: Social class wisdom says that poor people commit more crimes. This is not at all clear, however. Conventional Self-report surveys have shown that some of the differences in official data (i.e. arrest rates, convictions) between social classes can be attributed to differential law enforcement practices It is more likely that some crimes vary by social class, while others are relatively equal throughout different social classes. The relationship between class and crime may be more complex than a simple linear relationship. “Class may affect certain subgroups of the population more than others” (Siegel 2004: 66). Official statistics indicate that crime rates are higher in the inner city and high-poverty areas than they are in suburban or wealthier areas. One explanation for these findings is related to law enforcement practices Sociology of Crime notes Police may devote more resources to poor areas consequently apprehension rates are higher Police more likely to formally arrest and prosecute lower-class citizens than those in middle and upper classes Crime Factors: Race and Ethnicity Official statistics indicate that minority populations are involved in a disproportionately high share of criminal activities. Self-report surveys (c.f. Huizinga and Elliott, 1987) may contradict official statistics, leading to one possible conclusion that overrepresentation is a result of selective or differential enforcement, probably greater for some crimes (i.e. drug offenses), but less so for others (i.e. homicide) Crime Factors: Media The media is often linked to rises in violent crimes. Numerous studies make a link between media exposure and aggressiveness; however this connection is by no means uniformly accepted. 1. Most studies find an “indirect” relationship 2. More direct correlations linked to “immediate aggressiveness” NOT to long term violence 3. U.S. youth exposed to more violent content, but youth crime has decreased since 1994 4. chicken and egg problem – are aggressive youth drawn to violent programming, or does violent programming lead to aggressive youth? Crime Factors: Justice Policies On the one hand, in places like the US, Australia and NZ increased punishment for violent crimes and drug crimes positively correlated to decreasing crime rates over the last two decades. The debate is around the degree of suppression, and the relative costs. Policies such as increased sentencing, three-strikes, and mandatory minimums have left the Unit...
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