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Criminology Final

Criminology Final - Le Wang CRIM100 Final Examination 4...

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Le Wang CRIM100 Final Examination December 21 2009
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4. Cesare Beccaria’s writes that “everyone wants to be exempt from the compacts that bind the rest of mankind” and that “no man ever gave up his liberty for the good of the public.” Thus, a man giving up his liberty, or feeding into criminal behavior, is a result of society. Essentially this statement is attributing criminal activity to the restrictive bonds of society. Emile Durkheim says we are “moral beings only to the extent that we are social beings” and that the “genuinely moral life… begins when the collective life begins.” This statement as well labels individuals as social animals, that they are members of society before they are an individual. These statements feed directly into strain, labeling and social control theories. Strain theory essentially states that criminal activity is a result of a disparity between goals and a means to achieve those goals. Society places high standards economically and socially for many people, while placing many people in situations that render them almost hopeless in achieving these goals. However, the mere pressure that society also places on these people will ultimately force some of them to, like Cesare Beccaria says, “give up his [their] liberty.” They resort to illegitimate means to achieve the goals that society pressures them to attain, thus resulting in crime. The bonds Beccaria refers to are in fact the economic and social bonds that restrict many people. People living in the ghettos of New York or West Philadelphia have little opportunity for advancement. Yet in movies and television everywhere they see multi- millionaires and even billionaires living a life that they could only live out in their dreams. Being physically unable to achieve this in their environment, they have to result, in many instances, to stealing and other illegitimate means of obtaining money. Thus, like Durkheim says, they are “moral beings only to the extent that [they] are social beings.” As social beings, members of this society, they are forced to leave their morals behind and resort to other means to achieve goals. Labeling theory states that “reactions of other people and the subsequent effects of those reactions create deviance.” Essentially, by labeling someone a deviant, it compels them to commit acts of more deviance, with the idea that they have nothing to lose by committing a crime if they are already labeled a criminal. This is essentially society’s restrictions on an individual. An individual may easily commit a crime and reform, but instead we subject them to our social pressures and punishments. We classify them and stereotype them. We lower our expectations of them to the point that we expect that they commit acts of deviance. By doing so, we give them little reason to try to redress their deviant behavior. They are stuck with a certain stereotype and as a result feel no reluctance in further deviance. Again, these people are social beings before they are moral beings, as Durkheim states. As social beings, they are already
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