Difficulties Involved In Defining And Measuring Crime And Deviance

1053 words - 4 pages

This assignment will discuss the problems between crime and deviance, what counts as crime and deviance and how it varies with place and time. It will include the difference and similarities and give examples of defining crime and deviance. Finally the essay moves on to looking at how to identify why official statistics do not reflect in today’s society and may not be totally accurate.
Crime is usually looked upon as an infringement of criminal law where as deviance has a vast and wider approach to crime and is consequently much harder to define. Crime is not a naturally occurring phenomenon it is manmade and more significantly, they are influenced by powerful groups within society. (Doherty, M.2005 page9)
The simplest way of defining crime is to present it as something that is totally against the law and punishable by the state. For example, in this country the sale and consumption of alcohol to under 18 year olds (minors) is against the law and it can carry a heavy fine and penalty. Drugs in Britain are illegal and can carry a severe sentence such as imprisonment. (www.sociology.org.uk)
In the 1960’s legislation decriminalised aspects of homosexuality, abortion and prostitution at one point they were classed as criminal but they are no longer categorised as crime. (Croall.H 1998 page5). Abortion is still an issue even though it’s no longer classed as crime, cultures criteria vary from country to country. Attitudes to homosexuality and abortions have changed dramatically, but is still frowned upon by those who still think it is morally wrong and its society who decide if it’s acceptable or not, as you can see crime and deviance are both social constructions and they can vary between cultures and time. (www.womansphere.com)
Deviance is a non conformist behaviour which society in general frowns upon as it transcends away from the social norms. Deviance may result in formal or informal punishment or stigmatisation (negatively viewed and scorned by others) for example Goths are seen as deviant as they go against social norms. (www.tutor2u.net)
Crime is usually looked upon as a violation of criminal law whereas deviance has a wider approach to crime and is therefore much harder to define.
Rape and murder are defined as criminal and deviant, so the problems that have escalated over time concerning crime and deviance are what one could define as crime may in another one’s mind be defined as deviant. Therefore it is true to say that not all crime is deviant and not all deviance is crime it could be neither or both (www.ruthssociology.com) Crime is a behaviour that is against the law, which in fact can carry a heavier punishment than the punishment of deviance itself.
Having looked at the problems in defining crime and deviance, this essay will now move onto looking at the difficulties in measuring crime.
Official crime statistics are collated by the government and compiled by the home office every 6 months, they gather the...

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