Crime and Deviance

New Criminology
This theory criticised many existing theories of crime. Taylor Walton and Young accept some key assumptions of Marxism but adopt a more liberal and tolerant view, influenced by labeling theory. The criminologists must consider the following aspects of deviance:

  1. The way in which wealth and power are distributed.
  2. The circumstances surrounding the decision of an individual to commit an act of deviance.
  3. The meaning of the deviant act for the person involved was the individual ‘kicking back” at society through an act of vandalism, for instance.
  4. The way in which other members of society, such as the police respond to the deviant act.
  5. The reaction needs to be examined in terms of the way in which society is organised, who has the power to make rules and decide how deviant acts should be dealt with.
  6. The impact of the deviant label.
  7. Finally, criminologists need to look at the relationship between all these different aspects so that they can be fused into 1 complete theory of deviance.

Gender and Crime
  1. Women tend to commit fewer crimes than men.
  2. Most crimes committed by women tend to be of a comparatively trivial nature.
  3. Sociology and criminology tend to be dominated by men.
  4. Traditional criminology is motivated by a desire to control problem behaviour. As women’s behaviour is less of a problem than men’s it has received less attention.

Official statistics indicate that women in all age groups appear to commit far less crime than men.

Youth and Crime
  1. Cohen – working class boys form deviant subculture and commit delinquent acts
  2. Paul Willis – the young boys do not want educational status, they are working in factories

Labeling Theory
  1. argues that powerful groups shape societal reaction by making the rules for powerless groups such as the young and labeling young people via policing or media moral panics.
  2. studies of policing in both Britain and USA suggest young people specially young blacks are negatively labeled as either suspicious or criminal in everyday policing which results in over proportionate stops and arrest.
  3. Matza argues that most people subscribe to deviant values but working class youth is more likely to be negatively labeled than others for the same behaviour.
  4. labeling theory suggests that once labeled, the deviant status becomes a master status that may have negative consequences in terms of prejudice and discrimination of self-fulfilling prophecies for young people.
  5. Youth subcultures confer normality and status on those labeled by society, and membership may compensate for negative societal reaction.

Marxist theory
  1. Taylor, Walter and Young suggest that working class youth choose to commit crime because of their experience in the injustice of capitalism of inequality in wealth and power.
  2. Gilroy argues that black street crime reflects young black people’s anger at the way that white society has historically treated black people via slavery and colonialism and is a rational political response to everyday prejudice and discrimination specially police harassment.

Feminists’ perspective
  1. The crisis of masculinity Mac and Ghaill suggest that as the workforce becomes more feminised and job opportunities for young men decline, young males may be experiencing a crisis of masculinity.
  2. it is argued that this crisis may be resolved for some young men by joining anti-school subcultures and being involved in violence and crime in wider society because this type of behaviour may be an alternative form of asserting traditional masculinity.

There is some concern that violent crimes committed by young working class women are rising.

Studies of girl gangs in the USA by Campbell and Nicole note that violence, drug, robbery and possession of dangerous weapons are common activity carried out by young women.

Young women joined gangs to compensate for low status in the families and communities and as an alternative to taking on low skilled, tedious, low-paid jobs.

However, such gangs contain elements of traditional patriarchal culture because members of female gangs were girlfriends of male gang members and when they became pregnant they moved uncomplainingly into traditional mother roles.

Nicole suggests girl gangs are increasing in the UK, although she says they seem less organised and violent than those in the USA.


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