This essay will focus on how crime and deviance is perceived by place, time and culture. It will also focus on the different methods to collect crime statistics and the strength and weaknesses of using official crime statistics.
Deviance is when a person breaks an unwritten rule of the society. That person will behave a way that is unusual or not expected in the society. A simple example might be a person can be used to swearing because his family does not mind him swearing but if he goes to another family which does not tolerate people who swear the people in the family might be affected with the swearing.
Crime is quit different to deviance and crime is mainly when someone breaks the law and the person will end up being arrested by the police or punished according to the crime the person has committed. Laws are written rules of the society and no one is allowed to break these rules.
When studying the society interactionism adopts an individual response. The Marxism, Functionalism and the area we live (ecology theory) explore the structural reasons as why someone would commit crime but the interactionism is different. Interactionism focuses more on the reason why a person commits an act of crime and the person. Human behavior is not controlled by social forces but it is created by members of the society and can therefore vary from culture to culture.
A simple example might be seeing a person walking in the street holding an assault rifle .this type of behavior is seen as wrong and unacceptable because it is dangerous and illegal. But if we see a police officer or soldier walking in the street holding a guy we interpret that behavior as normal or understandable because we assume that the police officer or soldier have a very good reason for acting both dangerously and illegal.
Blumer (1969) suggested that Interactionism is based on three central views. Firstly humans act towards things on the meaning that things have for them. Therefore human behavior is not determined by social forces. Interactionism believes that people choose what to do according to how they see things.
Secondly actions made by human beings to one another are changing and meaning are not fixed but dependant on the person we are talking to. for example it may be not wrong to dig your noise in class when the teacher is talking but in your house it will be acceptable.
Thirdly and lastly, society is a product of human activity. Therefore the society is made by people not the other way round as structuralists would like us to believe. Social order therefore inherently easily broken, being dependant on shared meanings “Subculture is a system of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and life styles of a social group which is distinct from but related to the dominant culture of society,” (Dictionary of Sociology)
According to Cloward and Ohlin members of the working have fewer opportunities to achieve success and this will force to deviate. However they develop three possible responses to this problem of behavior.
The first one is criminal subculture and this is when the teenager or youths have the access to criminal subculture. This usually happens in places where there is more crime and in these places crime is something they see everyday. Mostly the young people will learn from the adult criminals who are seen as there role models. If successful these teenagers will rise up as professional criminals.
Conflict subculture is the second one and this often develops in places where there is not much room and opportunities to gain access to criminal subculture. Therefore there will not be any role models or criminal skills that the young ones to copy. These areas have a temporary population and no community spirit. Mainly gangs are formed due to violence and release of anger.
Lastly the Retreatist subculture is the third one and this when the youth fail to achieve success as a member or criminal or conflict subculture they retreated. As a result of this the working class youth will end up doing drugs and they will end up being one of the downtown street corner youth.
The British Crime Survey (BCS), the police and the courts are responsible for collecting the statistics on crime in the UK. Therefore the public presentation of recorded crime in the UK is done by the BCS. However, the BCS can only gather and present recorded figures and most the people believe that the figures they present are biased in a way that people think they are way short of actual statistics. The BCS believe that 1 in 4 crimes is reported.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that the BCS does not deal with all crimes; for example, it does not include corporate crime in its figures or crimes dealt with by the Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue. The second is that there is a general belief that quite a lot of crime is not recorded. For example, if someone is engaged in an activity that pushes the boundaries of legality and has a crime committed against themselves while so engaged, they are hardly likely to take the matter to the police. It is thought that quite a few crimes are committed against prostitutes by their clients but that the victims of these crimes simply do not go to the police to report such crimes because they themselves live in a twilight zone of legality/illegality. Crimes committed by drug dealers against drug takers are also not likely to be reported to the police. Child protection groups believe that crimes committed against children are also grossly underreported because many happen within the family structure and as a result are dealt with within the family.