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CRIME AND DEVIANCE (SCLY 4)

The social distribution of crime and deviance by age, ethnicity, gender, locality and social class, including recent patterns and trends in crime

Assess sociological explanations of gender differences in crime (21 marks)

Statistical evidence clearly suggests that women are less likely to commit crime than their male counterparts. For example in 2010, 85% of men were sentenced for indictable offences in comparison to only 5% of females. Men are also more likely to be repeat serious offenders and found guilty or cautioned for offending than women. Sociologists refer to structural explanations; which may encourage men to commit more crime and to factors of the criminal justice system that treat both gender differently.

Pollack believes differences in crime can be attributed to the ‘chivalry factor’. He believes society generally feel the need to protect women and so are mentally discouraged from criminalising them. Thus they are less likely to be convicted for the same offences as men and this is reflected in statistics.

However although it is evident that women are less likely to commit as serious offences as men, Carlen (1997) states that violent women are treated less favourably than men in the criminal justice system which undermines the chivalry factor thesis. This is because as well as committing an offence, females are reprimanded for having rejected traditional female behaviour. The fact that men are generally regarded as being more violent means they are given comparatively lighter sentences for offences of the same severity.

Biological explanations for gender differences in crime can be said to reinforce the chivalry factor thesis. This is because the idea that women are naturally more innocent than men (which underpins the chivalry factor thesis) is supported by biological evidence. For example, Dalton (1994) argued that women are more likely to commit crimes 4 days prior to and after their period. This...
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