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A Critical Analysis Of Crime And Social Harm

863 words - 4 pages

Aristotle (350 B.C.E) quoted in Jowett (2009) states that: “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime. Great Philosophers such as Aristotle helped to set the foundation of what we today define as ‘crime’ showing that even in 350 B.C.E the definitions of ‘crime’ came from what was fist defined as ‘poverty’.
One of the most common definition of ‘crime’ comes from the Labour Government (2007) quoted in Muncie, Talbot and Walters (2010) “Labour Governments ‘Respect’ website 2007 Crime is doing something forbidden by law. That could mean stealing a mobile phone, vandalism, graffiti, mugging, stealing or taking and selling drugs” (Muncie, Talbot and Walters, 2010, p. 3). This definition of crime is very much focused on the ideas of what criminologists would class as ‘street crimes’, crimes that are generally committed by the poorer people within society, young people who come from council estates. However this definition of ‘street crimes’ omits the crimes that are committed in ‘invisible spaces’ which tends to focus more on: domestic abuse, gender abuse and people trafficking and the ‘invisible crimes’ committed by the powerful elites of the world. These crimes tend to be focused on white collar crimes, environmental pollution and illegal arms dealings amongst many more. This definition of crime omits behaviours that are potentially more harmful, that could cause greater pain or loss (Muncie, Talbot and Walters, 2010, p. 3).
Although we have a general definitions of crime, some criminologists argue that crimes is better placed within the concept of social harm, Stuart Henry and Mark Lanier (1998) as quoted in Muncie, Talbot and Walters (2010). pp 16-17 were leading authors who done just that. Criminologists such as “Tifft, 1995 and Hilliyard et al.,2004, developed a ‘social harm approach’” (Muncie, Talbot and Walters, 2010, p. 18). The social harm approach gives a better understand of both social problems and injurious practices that are not focused on generally by the criminal justice system.

Crime as we know it today has changed over time, and is also culturally and historically specific and can be changed at any point for example, up until 1916 cocaine was legal within the UK. It is the people hold the power within society who can determine what a law is and who can enforce it on their behalf. Although we have laws that are very enforceable in today’s society we still have laws that remain on the statute books that are no longer enforceable due to changing practices, values and norms. This enforces the idea that crime is defined by firstly who has the power to...

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