Social Construction of Crime and Deviance

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About this sample


Words: 985 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 985|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

The life of a human is governed by the social norms and rules created within society. According to Anthony Giddens there’s another side to the story and that is, the norms and rules that get broken Giddens 1989. A Crime is known be an act against the law which then result in punishment for what’s been committed. For example, if a person was to sell drugs abroad and make profit to maintain their lives’ and families, this is known to be a crime within the UK because their doing something that is illegal. Another example of crime could be a working-class serial killing an elderly woman at bus station for financial gains and some through thrill seeking. Not all people who have committed crimes are prosecuted and not every people that has committed crime has been been arrested. Crime is selective as there are different level of crimes and so it’s not singular. This shows that not everyone has the same treatment and so this is someway selected. If a black man would be caught in crime, he would be directly in the system and would probably never see him again. Just because of their race does not means that a light skinned individual have nothing going on in their side. Polices are most likely to get those in poorer communities. Becker stated that the police worked within the boundaries of certain preconceptions and stereotype and what was considered as ‘trouble’. This shows that its not a measurable behaviour. For example, if a group of women drinked and had fun outside an event building, the police wouldn’t stop them unlike a group of man doing the exact same thing. They would have been amused by the group of women instead. This shows that not everyone is treated the same accordingly.

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On the other hand, deviance has no simple definition in the sociological context. Downes and Rock state that deviance may be considered as banned or known to be a controlled behaviour which attracts punishment. Such behaviours include murder and rape which is unacceptable and banned from many cultures and are subject to a severe punishment. Deviance is mostly concealed and hidden from the public eye therefore devious in character, it is often undercover and may be found, hidden in normal settings such as in workplaces or at home. Take the example of the serial killer Douglas Vinter, 39, who was convicted of stabbing and strangling his wife three years after he was released from jail. This person was appeared to be a normal family man, yet he indulged in privately in murdering his wife. In addition to this. He was able to use his normal social behaviour skills and appear innocent. No one would know what he has done because it has not been caught. This shows that a form of behaviour may be classified as deviant yet may see as normal. Sociologists believe that crime and deviance are socially constructed. This is often by the ruling class. If somebody acts in an unpleasant a mediocre way whilst being in court, then this is deviance because they have been conducting in a way that was outside the normal behaviour.

Howard Becker stated that deviant acts are those that have been labelled. The things that makes somethings deviant is how people react to what is done. For example, if a famous person is caught doing crime activities, his labelled and known for that and so the only thing that deviants have in common is that they labelled deviant by those who caught them. When labelling someone, it is like given a name, almost like a mark. Something becomes deviant when a person has been good at labelling it. The definition of labelling differs from culture to culture. Calling someone deviant is a reaction to a specific action. Labelling theorists believe that an individual is causing negative feelings and consequences when labelling those whom committed them because it reinforces their criminal actions due to the deepening effects labelling affected them.

On the contrary, Marxist see crime as an impossible part as it stems from social inequalities. Working class crime is caused by labour exploitation therefore robbery and theft is an expression of that exploitation and an act of the working class against the upper class. Chambliss stated that behaviours are defined as criminal according the interest of the ruling class. Crime deferrers from society to society depending on their political structure of their society. Durkheim stated that crime is unavoidable in society as it is impossible for everyone to be equally committed to the same shared norms and values. He also stated that crime has positive functions within society because deviance brings new perspective of what is right and wrong to develop things that are needed within our society as well as policies and laws which could be created as a result of this. Society can expand and change through crime as it wakes people up to what’s occurring around the world and it’s good to be reminded from time to time. Durkheim states that deviance can act as a valve that releases stresses within society. However too much crime is bad for society. 

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Morals and values can be unuseful and wasted unless people are reminded of them daily. Just like forming new habits or building muscles. Crime could be reminding society of the boundaries on what’s right from wrong. Crime and deviance can be the form of an alarm warning which highlights that society is not functioning properly and so it addresses issues. For example, high rates of rape, increased drug use and addiction. Another example could be that the media is a good way to remind people of what is going on across the globe. Hearing negative situations through the media makes people angry and outraged. This then unites society and the population into having some sort of social norms and values as well as awareness of the issues.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Social Construction Of Crime And Deviance. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“Social Construction Of Crime And Deviance.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
Social Construction Of Crime And Deviance. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
Social Construction Of Crime And Deviance [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from:
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