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Crime Is A Contested And Complex Concept. Discuss

1048 words - 5 pages

Various Definitions of Crime:
1. Labelling theory: The theory that the terms crime, deviance, or punishment are labels, variously applied by act of power and not some natural reflection of events – American criminologist Howard Becker
2. Social construction: Our concepts and the practical consequences that flow from using them are the products (constructions) of social interaction and only make sense within the communities in which that interaction takes place. Crime is a label created in social interaction, but once created it has both a symbolic and practical reality.
5 Assumptions/claims → complicate/differentiate out understanding of what crime is:
1. Crime is some action/omission that ...view middle of the document...

The criminal law
6. Chance and seasonal variation
7. Whether an offence is normally reported or discovered
The relationship between perception and…
- Age: Older = crime is increasing
- Gender: Female > Men to say crime is increasing
- Location: Syd > Outside of Syd to say crime is increasing
- Occupation: blue collar → more likely to say increased rates
“Social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance,” and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them outsiders
How is crime presented?
- Crime has been falling/ stable over the past 11 yrs but it’s portrayed as rising by the media
- Public gets info from media
- Media distorts, misrepresents and exaggerates crime
- How the media abuses crime:
o Selective use of data
o Selective reporting of facts
o Misleading commentary
o Misrepresentation of facts
o Misleading headlines
o FOR EXAMPLE: Premier Barry O’Farrell was caught by The Daily Telegraph quoting misleading figures on Kings Cross drunk violence rates
• “33 per cent reduction” – Barry O’Farrell
• 4.25 per cent – Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR)
- Graphs showing misleading trends: focusing on a specific year rather than a trend over several years
- Crime is presented as being ubiquitous (everywhere and affecting everyone)
- Negative portrayal of crime incidents → crime wave (increased reporting → public awareness → perception of increased crime) → moral panic (media labels a certain group as deviant – straying from accepted standards – and a treat to social moral order → deviancy amplification: public labelling → increased deviant behaviour) → outweighs rational thought → enables political manipulation
o Unintentional fuelling of racism, and other stereotypes → social division
o Government attempts to respond to public perception
- The media:
o Shapes definition of crime and crime control
o Producing legal changes
o Reinforcing particular types of policing strategies
- Moral panic and folk devils work to reinforce stereotypes. The media focuses on particular events reinforcing the ethnic character of deviancy and criminality which brands communities
- The inaccuracy between public perception and crime rates:
o FOR EXAMPLE:
• In 1999 Canada, the crime rate has been dropping for the past 7 years, however 83% of the public believe crime is either stable or increasing
• Similarly in the UK, crime rates have...

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