Sociology - Crime and Deviance

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Crime and Deviance
Crime is a set of rules and statutes that regulates the behaviours of a society, it is a behaviour or action that will put members of the public at risk of harm in one way or another be it a robbery or a violent attack. However, deviance is not necessarily breaking the law but it is in violation of the social norms. (Cliff Notes. 2009) But what is classed as criminal or deviant is dependent on certain factors. Crime, or what is perceived as criminal changes over time; what is considered a criminal act now may not have been seen as such in previous years, for example, recreational drugs such as cocaine were not illegal in the late nineteenth century but holds a hefty punishment for possession now. What is deemed to be deviant behaviour can differ between cultures, such as the drinking culture of Britain compared to that of Middle Eastern countries. Drinking large quantities of alcohol in the UK is very much accepted but if this was done in a Middle Eastern country the person would be considered to be breaking social norms, therefore deviant. The biological approach to crime and deviance focuses on the chemical imbalances in the brain, more specifically the neurotransmitter Serotonin. Neurotransmitters have an effect on our moods, too little or too much of them can have a massive impact on behaviours; this is the basis of the biological approach to crime and deviance. Serotonin, along with the responsibility of transporting nerve impulses throughout the brain, is known as the ‘happy hormone’, regulating our moods and sleep pattern, meaning that a lot of sufferers of depression find themselves with too little of this, but too much serotonin could be just as detrimental to a person’s mental health, in some cases making them delirious. It is theorised that a lack of serotonin can also lead to impulsive violent behaviour, an excuse often used in the courts surrounding violent attacks. A deficiency of serotonin often leaves the person with an ‘act first think later’ behavioural characteristic, so rather than having a ‘brake’ to stop and think through their actions before carrying them out they will often find themselves behaving in such a way that they know is inappropriate before they come to realise this themselves.

Hans Brunner’s study backs up the biological theory; he conducted a case study of the male members of a family in Holland each with different violent tendencies. One of which attempted to run his boss over in his car after an argument, another raped his sister and one forced his sister to undress in front of him. They all displayed retarded motor development, difficulties in task planning and awkward sexual behaviours. With further study Brunner found that all of them had a lack of serotonin, which he linked to the violent outbursts they had displayed. (Brunner, H. 1993)

The main issue with this study is the sample, not only is it a limited sample but it is culture biased and gender biased as well due to the focus of the study being three Dutch males. This means that the findings cannot be generalised as they are specific to the bias and not large enough generalise wider.

The biological theory of crime and deviance is a reliable theory as it can be measured accurately as it’s interest is in the chemical imbalances in the brain rather than what we cannot see or measure like the sociological theory. Another positive point for the theory is it explains the violent outbursts and can be treated to correct the imbalance in the brain with drugs to help adjust the levels of serotonin back to a normal level. Although it explains the violent outbursts it doesn’t explain the criminal acts performed by those with a normal level of serotonin in their brain. The main emphasis of the sociological theory toward crime and deviance is that primary deviance leads to secondary deviance through labelling for example if a policeman hits a person with a truncheon it is not deviant as it is someone of...
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