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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
Lesson 20
There is a growing and widespread perception among the population that, over time, crime has grown more
prevalent and serious. During the last half century it has been reported that people are now much more
fearful of crime than in earlier times. They are experiencing heightened anxiety about going out after dark,
about their homes being burgled, and about becoming the victims of violence.
Statistics about crime and delinquency are probably the least reliable of all officially published figures on
social issues. We cannot take official statistics at face value, but must pay attention to the way in which
those statistics were generated.
The most basic limitation of official crime statistics is that they only include crimes actually recorded by the
police. There is a long chain of problematic decisions between possible crime and its registration by the
police. The majority of crimes, especially petty thefts, are never reported to the police at all. Even in the
case of violent crimes, more than one third of the victims choose not to contact the police, claiming that it
is a private affair or something they have dealt with themselves. As a result of partial reporting and partial
recording of crimes, the official crime statistics reflect only a portion of overall offences.
Police forces have been expanded in response to growing crime. When crime rates are on the rise, there is
almost inevitably public clamor for putting more police `on the street'. But the greater number of police has
not translated into lower crime rates. Preventing crime, and reducing fear of crime, are both closely related
to rebuilding strong communities. Police should work closely with citizens to improve local community
standards and civil behavior, using education, persuasion, and counseling instead of incarceration.
`Community policing' implies not only drawing in citizens themselves, but also changing the characteristic
outlook of police forces.
Social Distribution of Crime
There is a variation in the distribution of crime by social characteristics i.e. gender, age, social class,
ethnicity, locality. Does it mean that some individuals or groups more likely to commit crimes, or to
become the victims of crime. Research and statistics show that crime and victimization are not randomly
distributed among the population. For example men are more likely than women to commit crimes; the
young are more often involved in crime than older people; poor areas generally have higher crime rates than
better off areas; the ethnic minorities experience higher rates of victimization; individuals living in inner city
run a greater risk of becoming victims than those living in suburban areas.
Gender and Crime
National and international data show that:
 Crimes are highly concentrated among men.
 There is an imbalance in the ratio of men to women in prison.
 There are contrasts between the types of crimes men and women commit. (Women are rarely
involved in violence. Petty thefts, prostitutions are typical female offenses).
In reality gender differences in crime rates may be less pronounced. Reasons may be:
 Certain crimes perpetrated by women go unreported. Domestic role provide them the opportunity
to commit crimes at home and in private sphere and these go unreported.
 Women regarded as naturally deceitful and highly skilled at covering up their crimes. Supposedly
grounded in their biology that they can hide their pain and discomfort.
 Women offenders are treated more leniently because male police officers tend to adopt a
`chivalrous' attitude towards them. Questionable. Since women appear to be less dangerous,
therefore officers may let them go. Also they are less likely to be imprisoned than male offenders.
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
 Leniency toward women shown by criminal justice system is also questioned because women are
treated more harshly than men in cases where they allegedly deviated from the norms of female
sexuality. They may be considered as `doubly deviant' i.e. broken the law plus flouted appropriate
female behavior. For sexually promiscuous girls are more often taken onto custody than boys.
Here one could refer to double standards where male aggression and violence is seen as natural
phenomenon, explanations for female offences are sought in psychological imbalance.
 Female lawbreakers often escape because they are able to persuade the police and other authorities.
They try to get special treatment under "gender contract' ­ an implicit contract between men and
women whereby (1) to be a woman is to be erratic and impulsive, and (2) women need protection
by men.
Women victims don't report crime due to the humiliating process of medical examination, police
interrogations and courtroom cross-examinations.
Some studies have shown some correlation between an increase in female criminality and the movement for
women's liberation.
Age and Crime
Official crime rates rise sharply during adolescence and peak during the late teens, and thereafter fall. In the
USA young people are becoming responsible for serious crimes. Between 1987 and 1996, arrests of
juveniles for violent crimes shot up to 60 percent. The offenses like theft, burglary, assault, and rape (called
street crimes) are all associated with young working class males. Is it due to moral breakdown? Is it due to
increasing permissiveness? May be both.
In UK there are high rates of offence among youth. In 1997, 40 percent of all offenders cautioned or
convicted were under 21 years. The peak age for offending boys and girls was 18.
There could also be the matters of definition of crime. Youth revolts may be erroneously considered as
Social Class and Crime
There is an impression that criminality is more widespread among people of lower social class. It is a
mistake to assume that being socially disadvantaged means being criminal. Many wealthy and powerful
people carry out crimes whose consequences can be much more far-reaching than the often petty crimes of
the poor.
If we extend our definition of crime beyond street offences to include white-collar crime, then the `common
criminal' looks affluent.
White-Collar Crime
The concept of white-collar crime was first introduced by Sutherland in his book White-Collar Crime in 1949.
It refers to the crimes carried by those in the more affluent sectors of the society. `Crimes committed by persons
of high social status and respectability in the course of their occupation' (Sutherland).
The term covers many types of criminal activity, including tax frauds, illegal sale practices, securities and
land frauds, embezzlement, the manufacture and sale of dangerous products as well as straight theft. The
distribution of white-collar crimes is even harder to measure than that of other types of crime.
White-collar crimes can be divided into two categories by power of the affluent. Firstly those crimes that
mainly involves the use of middle class or professional position to engage in illegal activities. Secondly
Crimes of the powerful are those in which the authority conferred by a position is used in criminal ways ­ as
when an official accepts a bribe to favor a particular policy.
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
The cost of the white-collar crimes is much higher than the crimes by the lower class. In the USA in 1986, it
has been calculated the amount of money involved in white-collar crime (defined as tax fraud, insurance
frauds, home improvement frauds and car repair frauds) is forty times as great as that in ordinary crimes
against property (robberies, burglaries, latency, forgeries, and car thefts)
Corporate Crime
Offenses committed by large corporations in society. Pollution, mislabeling, violations of health and safety
regulations affect much larger number of people than petty criminality. The increasing power and influence
of large corporations, and their rapidly growing global reach means that our lives are touched by them in
many ways. Corporations are involved in producing cars that we drive and the food we eat. They also have
an enormous effect on the natural environment and financial markets, aspects of life, which affect all of us.
Slapper and Tombs (1999) have listed six types of violations by corporations:
 Administrative (non-compliance of rules).
 Environmental (pollution, permits violations resulting in disasters. Victims).
 Financial (tax violations, permits violations).
 Labor (working conditions, hiring practices).
 Manufacturing (product safety, labeling).
 Unfair trading practices (anti-competition, false advertising)
Victims of corporate crime don't see themselves as such.
Difficult to see as a victim of whom? Who is the perpetrator? Great distance in time and space when the
offence was committed and its appearance.
Don't know who has victimized, how to seek redress for crime.
Effects of corporate crime are often experienced unevenly in society.
Poor workers are victims of pollution, safety hazards.
Violent aspects of corporate crime are less visible than in cases of homicide.
Pollution leading to physical harm/death, and there are side effects of drugs as well as contraceptives. Such crimes are often seen
as `complaint-less'.
Organized crime syndicate such as the mafia may choose to resemble legitimate business but employ corrupt or illegal
organizations to secure loan repayment, avoid taxes or to discipline labor.
Organized crime refers to the forms of business that appears to be legal but actually is illegal. It embraces
smuggling, illegal gambling (sports, lotteries, and horse races), drug trade, prostitution, large-scale theft, and
protection rackets. It often relies on violence or threat of violence to conduct its activities.
It has become increasingly transnational networks in scope. It provides illegal goods and services to mass
consumer (Money laundering, sale of nuclear material)
International organized crime greatly facilitated by recent advances in information technology. Advances in
technology have provided exciting new opportunities and benefits, but they also heighten vulnerability to
crime. Cyber-crime i.e. criminal acts committed with the help of information technology are already there.
The examples of technology based crimes are: eves-dropping, electronic vandalism and terrorism,
pornography, telemarketing fraud, stealing telecommunications services, electronic funds transfer crimes,
electric money laundering, criminal conspiracies
Ethnicity and Crime
Both race and ethnicity are strongly correlated to crime rates.
In UK and in USA far more blacks than whites brought to court and sent to prison.
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
Prejudice related to color or class prompts white police to arrest black people more readily and leads
citizens more willingly to report African Americans to police as suspected offenders, which means that
people of color are overly criminalized. It is just racism.
Race in USA closely relates to social standing and affects one's likelihood of engaging in street crime. Blacks
mostly belong to working class (or under class). Poor people living in midst of affluence come to perceive
society as unjust. They are more likely to suffer from the feeling of relative deprivation and are more likely
to turn to crime.
Black and white family patterns differ. In US 2/3rds of the black children (compared to one-fifth of white
children) are born to single mothers. They have less supervision and high risk of growing up in poverty,
hence more chances of criminality.
Official crime index excludes white-collar crimes, which are more committed by whites. This omission
contributes to the view of the typical criminal as a person of color.
Different ethnic backgrounds are related to crime rates. In UK the Asians and the Africans differed in their
expectations at new place.
Also they had different cultural and colonial background. It has been seen that the local Asian communities
support the new entrants but for blacks there appears to be no such resource. Blacks have been found in
situations that encountered racism. Blacks' resistance to discrimination got politicized in mid 1970s. The
young blacks got stereotyped with mugging problem, hence got extra attention by police with the
impression that the black immigrants had difficulties in observing the rule of law. Therefore they got to be
disciplined and punished. It amounted to racism
The black's behavior may have been due to their sense of relative deprivation, their subculture, their
marginalization, and willingness to challenge law and order by the youth.
[Marginalization: Young blacks feel that they have been pushed to the edge of society ­Doing less well in
school, getting badly paid jobs, -being likely to be unemployed, few outlets for political expression.
Relative deprivation: greater expectation of material success.
[Subcultures emerge due to mismatch between aspirations and the constraints of reality.]
Some categories of population have usually low rates of arrest, and Asians are one of those. They have
higher than average educational achievements, good jobs, and above average income. Also the Asian culture
emphasizes family solidarity and discipline, and both these factors inhibit criminality.
Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity