How well did you or your student do on the Sociology A-Level June 2023? -PAPER 2 CRIME AND DEVIANCE(Model Answers)
Crime and Deviance
Answer all questions in this section
1.) What term is commonly used by sociologists to describe the process by which people become widely regarded as deviant? (1 mark)
C Self-fulfilling prophecy
D Social mobility
2.) What term is commonly used by sociologists to describe the agency responsible for punishing offenders? ( 1 mark)
A Deterrent system
B Prison system
C Rehabilitation system
D Welfare system
B Prison system
3.) Describe one example of deviance. ( 3 marks)
One example of deviance is drug addiction. Drug addiction involves the persistent and compulsive use of substances that are considered illegal or harmful by society, such as illicit drugs or certain prescription medications. This behaviour deviates from societal norms and expectations regarding drug use.
4.) Identify and describe one way sociologist attempt to measure the dark figure of crime. (3 marks)
One way sociologists attempt to measure the dark figure of crime is through victimisation surveys. Victimisation surveys are research tools designed to collect data on individuals' experiences of crime, including incidents that may not have been reported to the police.
These surveys involve randomly selecting a representative sample of the population and asking them about their experiences of crime, such as whether they have been victims of specific offenses, the frequency and circumstances of those offenses, and whether they reported them to the police. By gathering information directly from individuals, victimisation surveys aim to capture crimes that may have gone unreported or undetected by law enforcement agencies, thus shedding light on the dark figure of crime.
James Patrick studied a gang of teenage boys in Glasgow. He used covert participant observation. He gained access to the gang by befriending 'Tim', a gang member who acted as his protector. He met with the gang on 12 occasions between October 1966 and January 1967.
Patrick found the gang to be dangerous - some members became suspicious of him when he chose not to carry a weapon, and was reluctant to fully participate in fights. He left the gang abruptly when the violence became too intense.
Patrick was scared of the gang and waited years before writing up his notes and publishing his work to protect their identities.
Patrick's work focused on the social conditions that led to the formation of the gang, such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing conditions.
Source: Patrick, J, A Glasgow Gang Observed, 2013.
From Item A, examine one strength of the research. ( 2 marks)
The strength of using covert participant observation is that it allows researchers to obtain in-depth and authentic insights into the group's behaviour and dynamics. By actively participating in the gang's activities and observing them from within, Patrick was able to gain a unique perspective that would have been difficult to achieve through other research methods. This method allowed him to develop a deeper understanding of the gang's social interactions, norms, and values.
6.) Identify and explain one factor which may have led to the boys joining the gang according to item A. ( 4 marks)
According to Item A, one factor from the social conditions that may have led to the boys joining the gang is poverty. Poverty refers to a state of lacking material resources and financial means to meet basic needs. In the context of the Glasgow gang studied by James Patrick, poverty can be seen as a significant factor influencing gang membership.
Firstly, poverty can create a sense of economic deprivation and limited opportunities for individuals living in disadvantaged areas. When individuals face chronic poverty, they may feel a sense of hopelessness and frustration due to their inability to improve their socioeconomic status through conventional means. Joining a gang may be perceived as a way to gain access to resources, including money, protection, and support, that are otherwise scarce in their impoverished circumstances.
Secondly, poverty can contribute to a lack of positive role models and social support networks. In impoverished communities, there may be limited access to educational and vocational opportunities, as well as a lack of positive community programs. Without adequate guidance and positive influences, young individuals may be more susceptible to the allure of gangs, which can offer a sense of belonging, identity, and guidance that is absent in their everyday lives.
7.) Identify and explain one disadvantage of using a case study to investigate a teenage gang. ( 4 marks)
One disadvantage of using a case study to investigate a teenage gang is the issue of generalisability. A case study focuses on a specific group or situation, in this case, a particular teenage gang in Glasgow studied by James Patrick. This narrow focus limits the ability to generalize findings to other gangs or contexts, which reduces the external validity of the research.
Firstly, the characteristics and dynamics of the studied gang may not be representative of other teenage gangs in different locations or cultural contexts. Gangs can vary significantly in terms of their motivations, structures, and activities, making it difficult to generalize findings from one case study to the broader population of teenage gangs. Therefore, the insights gained from studying this particular gang may not be applicable to gangs in other areas or with different social conditions.
Secondly, the sample size in a case study is typically small, focusing on a specific group or individual. In the case of the Glasgow gang, the study was conducted on a single gang with a limited number of members. This small sample size reduces the statistical power and limits the ability to draw broad conclusions about teenage gangs as a whole. The findings may be unique to the specific individuals and dynamics observed in the case study and may not reflect the experiences and characteristics of other gangs.
Frances Heidensohn was interested in what caused women to be deviant. She examined female criminality, but also why women were more likely to conform to social norms. She suggested that women were constrained by the roles that they play in their daily lives such as completing domestic tasks and raising a family. They were also constrained by the social control placed upon them by males in society. Heidensohn says that this control occurs in several areas of women's lives, including:
in the workplace
Source: Heidensohn, F, Women and Crime, 1985.
8.) From Item B, identify and explain one reason why women commit less crime than men according to Heidensohn, including what you know of her perspective on this issue. [4 marks]
According to Frances Heidensohn, one reason why women commit fewer crimes than men is because of patriarchal control imposed by society. This control operates in various areas of women's lives, including at home, in public spaces, and at work.
Women's domestic roles, which involve tasks like housework and childcare, place significant restrictions on their time and movement. This limits their opportunities to engage in criminal activities. Spending long periods confined to the house reduces their chances of offending. Women who attempt to reject their domestic roles may face forceful imposition by their partners, often through domestic violence. Men also exercise control through their financial power, such as denying women sufficient funds for leisure activities, which further restricts their time outside the home.
Daughters are also subject to patriarchal control. They are less likely to have the freedom to come and go as they please or stay out late. Consequently, they develop a "bedroom culture," socializing with friends at home rather than in public spaces. Additionally, girls are typically assigned more housework duties compared to boys, resulting in fewer opportunities for engaging in deviant behaviour outside the home.
9.) Identify and explain one disadvantage of using official statistics to understand the extent of crime committed by women. ( 4 marks)
One disadvantage of using official statistics to understand the extent of crime committed by women is the potential influence of the chivalry thesis. The chivalry thesis suggests that the criminal justice system exhibits leniency towards women and treats them more favourably than men. This bias can distort the representation of women's criminal behaviour in official statistics. Law enforcement officials, including police officers, may be more inclined to overlook or downplay women's involvement in criminal activities.
This can result from societal expectations and gender stereotypes that perceive women as less threatening or less likely to commit crimes. Consequently, female crimes may be underreported in official statistics, leading to an inaccurate understanding of the true extent of women's involvement in criminal behaviour. This limitation hinders efforts to develop effective policies and interventions specifically tailored to address female criminality.
10.) Discuss how far sociologists would agree that informal social control is an effective way of controlling deviant behaviour. ( 12 marks)
Sociologists have differing opinions on the effectiveness of informal social control in controlling deviant behaviour. One perspective, as exemplified by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling's broken windows theory, argues that informal social control is effective in preventing crime. According to this theory, visible signs of disorder and lack of concern for others in neighbourhoods create an environment conducive to criminal behaviour. By promptly addressing and repairing broken windows, removing graffiti, and addressing other forms of disorder, communities can signal that they care and discourage further deviant behaviour. Additionally, adopting a zero-tolerance policing strategy that proactively addresses even minor signs of disorder can prevent serious crime from taking root. Some studies have shown success with these strategies, such as the Clean Car Program in New York City, which effectively reduced graffiti in the subway. However, critics argue that the effectiveness of such strategies may be influenced by other factors, such as the presence of additional police officers and broader socioeconomic changes.
Another perspective focuses on social and community crime prevention strategies, which place emphasis on addressing the underlying causes of crime within the social context. These strategies seek to remove the conditions that predispose individuals to engage in criminal behaviour, such as poverty, unemployment, and poor housing. By implementing more comprehensive social reform programs that address these issues, crime prevention becomes a by-product. For example, policies promoting full employment can reduce crime rates indirectly. The Perry preschool project, which offered an intellectual enrichment program for disadvantaged children, demonstrated long-term positive outcomes such as reduced rates of arrests and increased educational attainment. These strategies tackle the root causes of crime, aiming to create social environments that discourage deviant behaviour.
However, both perspectives have their limitations. The approaches discussed often prioritise low-level and interpersonal crimes, neglecting crimes committed by powerful individuals or environmental crimes. The definition of the "crime problem" is often shaped by political priorities and the focus of crime prevention agencies. For instance, environmental crimes and offenses related to public health may not receive adequate attention despite their potential impact on local communities. In order to comprehensively address deviant behaviour, sociologists argue for a broader understanding of crime that includes these overlooked areas and expands the scope of informal social control efforts.
In conclusion, while there are different perspectives on the effectiveness of informal social control in controlling deviant behaviour, the broken windows theory and zero-tolerance policing approach suggest that addressing visible signs of disorder can help prevent crime. Social and community crime prevention strategies focus on addressing the root causes of criminal behavior through broader social reform programs. However, limitations exist, such as the influence of other factors and the narrow focus on specific types of crimes. A more comprehensive understanding of crime and deviance is necessary to develop effective informal social control strategies.
11.) Discuss how far sociologists would agree that people commit crime because of a lack of opportunities within society. ( 12 marks)
Sociologists generally agree to a significant extent that people commit crime because of a lack of opportunities within society, as proposed by Strain Theory. According to this theory, crime occurs when individuals experience a strain between societal goals and the means available to achieve those goals. Merton, argued that in societies like the United States, where the cultural emphasis is on the pursuit of material success, not everyone has equal access to legitimate means to achieve these goals. The resulting strain or tension between aspirations and limited opportunities can lead individuals to resort to criminal behaviour.
Merton identified five possible adaptations to strain. Conformity involves pursuing cultural goals through socially approved means. Innovation refers to using socially unapproved or unconventional means to attain culturally approved goals, such as engaging in drug dealing or theft. Ritualism involves using socially approved means to achieve more modest or humble goals. Retreatism entails rejecting both the cultural goals and the means to obtain them, often resulting in withdrawal from society. Lastly, rebellion involves rejecting both the goals and means while actively working to replace them with alternative systems. These adaptations reflect the various ways individuals respond to the strain they experience.
One notable application of Strain Theory is the explanation for higher crime rates among the working classes. Merton observed that working-class individuals, who were socialised with the belief that anyone can achieve material success through hard work, often faced limited opportunities to realise their goals. This disparity between the cultural emphasis on success and the lack of accessible means to achieve it created pressure on individuals. In response, some turned to illegitimate means, such as acquisitive crimes, to avoid being labelled as failures. Merton argued that this was a consequence of the unequal and divided nature of society, where legitimate opportunities for success were not equally distributed.
However, Strain Theory is not without criticism. It fails to explain why some working-class individuals do not engage in criminal behaviour despite facing similar strains. Subcultural theorists argue that the presence of deviant subcultures provides alternative rewards for individuals, which may influence their decisions regarding criminal behaviour. Additionally, Merton's reliance on official crime statistics may lead to an overemphasis on working-class crime while overlooking middle-class or white-collar crime. Moreover, the theory primarily focuses on economic crime and does not adequately account for violent crime.
Marxists highlight that the lack of equality of opportunity is inherent in capitalist systems, where elites manipulate the system to their advantage, placing the lower classes at a disadvantage. This critique suggests that the problem of limited opportunities and the resulting strain extends beyond individual shortcomings and is deeply rooted in societal structures.