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Illustrate your discussion with reference to age and crime. With the rise in mass media, the reporting of crime and deviance has become commonplace. We are now faced with images of criminal activity, whether that be large scale operations such as terrorism or drug trafficking or small scale like youth crime and delinquency, everyday of our lives and the trend in this seems to be on the rise.
The sense of the immediacy of crime and deviance through the intervention of the media has made it an important political issue.
With this in mind, this paper attempts to place the theories of deviance and control within the context of modern theories concerning social work and social work policy. Firstly, I would like to outline in some depth the various differing theories of crime and deviance, starting with the historical psychobiological model leading into more recent notions of genetic and criminal profilingthen I will move on to look at the more sociologically based theories of Emile Durkheim and Robert K.
I will, after this consider the theories of the Chicago school before concluding this section with an assessment of Howard Becker and labeling theory. With this base firmly established I will move on from there to look specifically at the area of crime and the young, isolating points of reference between the theory and the official statistics and drawing inferences from this.
I will then move on to look at the area of postmodern social theory as exemplified in the work of, among others Michel Foucault, and how such notions of privileging and minor narratives can be used to challenge criminal stereotypes and provide a sound foundation for future practice.
First of all, what is the theory of deviancy? It is not enough, as most commentators point out Haralambos, ; Giddens, ; Downes and Rock, etc. As Lefton, Skipper and McCaghy state the sociology of deviance, like many definitions in the social sciences, can best be thought of as a series of linked practices that are generally considered as constituting a partially homogenous discipline: A working definition of deviance as Haralambos suggests should involve some idea of relativity; with the current moral and ethical trends and mores taken as a benchmark for comparison: Deviance can only be defined in relation to a particular standard and no standards are fixed or absolute.
As such what is regarded as deviant varies from time to time and place to place. This does not however negate its importance as an opinion forming notion within society because, as we shall see, in many ways those who are excluded are equally as important, if not more so, as those that exclude.
One of the earliest perspectives of deviance and its causes was the notion of criminal typing as seen in the work of Cesare Lombroso and William Ferrero For Lombroso and Ferrero, the criminal displayed psychical differences from the law-abiding.
The deviant could be judged and, presumably the authorities pre-warned, through the isolating of certain physical features such as an asymmetrical face or unusual facial features. A article by the BBC, for example, suggests that steps have been made to try and isolate a gene that causes delinquency and anti-social behavior.
The outcomes of such research, commentators have suggested, could be the use of drugs in the prevention of crime and deviance. Of course, most of the theories concerning crime and deviance rely more on sociology than psychology or genetics. The use of psychobiology in this area may seem reasonable, it may even offer attractive easy answers like the use of crime-curbing drugs but, ultimately the problem is more likely to reside in the complexity of the interface between the individual and the society.
Even that most biological of thinkers Hans Eysenck acquiesces to the importance of context and culture in this area: What the figures have demonstrated is that heredity is a very strong predisposing factor as far as committing crimes is concerned.
But the actual way in which the crime is carried out, and whether or not the culprit is found and punished—these are obviously subject to the changing vicissitudes of everyday life.
Commensurate with his over all schema of sociological thought, Durkheim stressed not only the inevitability but also the function of crime in a social context. Firstly, he asserted, the universality of deviance as a subject - the fact that every society has a notion of deviance even though this may change from society to society points to the fact that it has an important role to play in the formation of societies.
He says in his The Rules of Sociological Method The concept of breaking the law, in other words must always be in a dialectical relationship to the up holding of the law but the latter must always prevail in order to maintain the status quo.
For Durkheim, also, deviance can be seen as a prefiguring of future actions or morality Thompson, The consensus of the society can be broken by individuals that may seem deviant at the time but whose views, eventually, come to represent the general consensus.
In both of these examples we see images of individuals or at least small groups who reverse the current trends in society but whose notions eventually are adopted. Merton, for Merton also crime and deviance is founded upon consensus of opinion.
Since many of those within a society will share these opinions thus, obviously, forming a consensus the only difference between the deviant and the non-deviant must be the social structure that they exist under, as Haralambos explains: This situation can generate deviance.
The Chicago school based their notions on similar founding precepts although they stressed the importance of environmental factors in the formation of deviance and crime Messner and South, Citation Machine™ helps students and professionals properly credit the information that they use.
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Sociology is the scientific study of human social life, social groups and society as a whole. (ashio-midori.com, ) It can be defined as ‘the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society.’ (Mills, ) It is used to view society through a new lens and find out why things such as poverty and equality occur.
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