Aristotle (350 B.C.E) quoted in Jowett, B. (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 definition of ‘crime’ came from what was fist defined as ‘poverty’.
This essay aims to critically evaluate the complexities of ‘crime’ and ‘social harm’ by first defining what we believe crime to be. By doing this we can then look at where this definition stops and where the ideas of social harm start. Criminologists, Sociologists and Academic Writers try to explain the concepts behind the definition of crime through the ‘Social Constructionist Theory’, and the ‘Positivist Theory’. The concepts behind social harm are explained using the ‘Social Harm Approach’ and Becker’s: ‘Labelling Theory’. By using ideas from Muncie, Talbots and Walters (2010) Crime: Local and Global, examples will include: “Gender abuse and people trafficking” as well as “Crime, harm and corporate powers”. I will conclude that crime is a much contested theory and social harm is better placed to explain some of the ‘wrong doings’ of the world and show just how far it can be taken?
One of the most common definitions of ‘crime’ comes from the Labour Government ‘Respect’ Website (2007) quoted in Muncie, Talbot and Walters (2010) “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 as stated in Muncie, Talbot and Walters, (2010), p. 3. Muncie, Talbot and Walters (2010), p. 01 also suggest that crime is a contested theory, this statement allows criminologists to then look at alternative methods of defining crime, criminal or deviant acts. This is done using the concept of social harm.
Crime as we know it today was only defined when the powerful felt that it was necessary to do so and used the power that they held to determine crimes. It is suggested in Muncie, Talbot and Walters, (2010), p.8, that crimes only...