Realist Theories


A-Level Sociology (Crime & Deviance) Mind Map on Realist Theories, created by A M on 05/04/2016.
Mind Map by A M, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by A M almost 8 years ago

Resource summary

Realist Theories
    1. Sees crime, especially street crime, as a growing problem.
      1. Believe other theories have failed to solve the problem of crime. They regard labelling theorists & critical criminology as too sympathetic to the criminal & hostile to the police & courts.
        1. Mainly concerned w/ practical solutions to reduce crime. In their view, the best way to do so is through control & punishment, rather than by rehabilitating offenders or tackling causes such as poverty.
          1. CAUSES OF CRIME
            1. RIGHT REALISTS reject the idea that structural or economic factors such as poverty are the cause of crime; e.g. they point out that the old tend to be poor yet have a very low crime yet.
              1. For RIGHT REALISTS, crime is the product of 3 factors:
                  1. According to WILSON & HERRNSTEIN, crime is caused by a combination of biological & social factors.
                    1. Biological differences between individuals make some people innately predisposed to commit crime, due to personality traits such as aggressiveness, risk taking or low intelligence, which RIGHT REALISTS see as biologically determined.
                    2. THE UNDERCLASS
                      1. Effective socialisation decreases the risk of offending by teaching self-control & correct values. RIGHT REALISTS see the nuclear family as the best agency of socialisation.
                        1. However, according to MURRAY, the nuclear family is being undermined by the welfare state, which is creating welfare dependency & encouraging the growth of an underclass who fail to socialise their children properly.
                          1. Generous welfare provision has led to the growth of benefit-dependent lone parent families, since men no longer need to take responsibility for supporting their families.
                        2. Absent fathers mean that boys lack discipline & an appropriate role model, so they turn to delinquent role models in street gangs & gain status through crime rather than through supporting their families.
                        3. RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY
                          1. CLARKE'S rational choice theory assumes individuals are rational beings w/ free will.
                            1. Deciding to commit crime is a choice based on a rational calculation of the consequences.
                              1. If the rewards of crime appear to outweigh the costs, then people will be more likely to offend. RIGHT REALISTS argues that the crime rate is high because the perceived costs are low; e.g. little risk of being caught & lenient punishments.
                                1. FELSON'S routine activity theory argues that for crime to occur, there must be:
                                  1. A motivated offender, a suitable target (victim or property) & the absence of a 'capable guardian' (e.g. policeman or neighbour).
                                    1. Offenders act rationally, so the presence of a guardian is likely to deter them.
                            2. SOLUTIONS TO CRIME
                              1. RIGHT REALISTS believe it is pointless trying to tackle to underlying causes of crime (biological & socialisation differences) since these are hard to change. Instead, they focus on the control & punishment of offenders.
                                1. WILSON & KELLING argue that we must keep neighbourhoods orderly to prevent crime taking hold. Any sign of deterioration, e.g. graffiti, must be dealt w/ immediately.
                                  1. Advocate a 'zero tolerance' policy. The police should focus on controlling the streets so law-abiding citizens feel safe.
                                    1. Crime prevention policies should reduce the rewards of crime & increase its costs, e.g. 'target hardening', more use of prison.
                                    2. CRITICISMS OF RIGHT REALISM
                                      1. Ignores structural causes of crime, e.g. poverty.
                                        1. It is concerned almost solely w/ street crime, ignoring corporate crime, which is more costly & harmful to the public.
                                          1. It over-emphasises control of disorderly neighbourhoods, ignoring underlying causes of neighbourhood decline.
                                            1. How can criminals be both rational actors freely choosing crime, while simultaneously their behaviour is determined by their biology & socialisation?
                                          2. LEFT REALISM
                                            1. CAUSES OF CRIME
                                              1. LEA & YOUNG identify 3 related causes of crime.
                                                1. RELATIVE DEPRIVATION
                                                  1. Crime has its roots in relative deprivation - how deprived someone feels in relation to others. When they feel others unfairly have more, they may resort to crime to obtain what they feel entitled to.
                                                    1. There is a growing contrast between cultural inclusion & economic exclusion & this increases relative deprivation:
                                                      1. There is cultural inclusion: even the poor have access to the media's materialistic messages, but there is economic exclusion of the poor from opportunities to gain the 'glittering prizes'.
                                                    2. SUBCULTURE
                                                      1. For LEFT REALISTS, a subculture is a group's solution to the problem of relative deprivation.
                                                        1. Some subcultural solutions do not lead to crime; e.g. some turn to religion to find comfort & may encourage conformity.
                                                          1. Criminal subcultures subscribe to society's materialistic goals, but legitimate opportunities are blocked, so they resort to crime.
                                                        2. MARGINALISATION
                                                          1. Unlike groups such as workers, unemployed youth are marginalised. They have no organisation to represent them & no clear goals - just a sense of powerlessness, resentment & frustration, which they express through criminal means, e.g. violence & rioting.
                                                      2. LATE MODERNITY & CRIME
                                                        1. YOUNG argues that in late modern society, the problem of working-class crime is worse due to:
                                                          1. Harsher welfare policies, increased unemployment, job insecurity & poverty.
                                                            1. Destabilisation of family & community life, weakening informal social controls.
                                                              1. YOUNG notes other changes in late modernity:
                                                                1. Crime is now found throughout society, not just at the bottom. There is resentment at the undeservedly high rewards, e.g. of footballers or bankers.
                                                                  1. There is now 'relative derivation downwards'; e.g. resentment against the unemployed spongers; more 'hate crimes' e.g. against asylum seekers.
                                                                    1. There is less consensus about what is acceptable & unacceptable behaviour, & informal controls are now less effective as families & communities disintegrate.
                                                                      1. The public is less tolerant & demand harsher formal control by the state. Late modern society is a high-crime society w/ a low tolerance for crime.
                                                                  2. SOLUTIONS TO CRIME
                                                                    1. DEMOCRATIC POLICING
                                                                      1. KINSEY, LEA & YOUNG argue that police rely on the public for information, but they are losing public support, so the flow of information dries up & they must rely instead on military policing, such as 'swamping' an area.
                                                                        1. To win public support, the police must become more accountable to local communities by involving them in deciding policing policies & priorities.
                                                                          1. Crime control must also involve a multi-agency approach (e.g. social services, housing departments, schools), not just the police.
                                                                          2. REDUCING INEQUALITY
                                                                            1. For LEFT REALISTS, the main solution to crime is to remove it's underlying cause: social inequality.
                                                                              1. They call for major structural changes to tackle discrimination, inequality of opportunity & unfairness of rewards, & provide decent jobs & housing for all.
                                                                          3. CRITICISMS OF LEFT REALISM
                                                                            1. Accepts the authorities' definition of crime as being the street crimes of the poor & ignores the harms done to the poor by the powerful. MARXISTS argue that it fails to explain corporate crime.
                                                                              1. Over-predicts the amount of working-class crime: not everyone who experiences relative deprivation & marginalisation turns to crime.
                                                                                1. Understanding offenders' motives requires qualitative data, but LEFT REALISM relies on quantitative data from victim surveys.
                                                                                  1. Focusing on high-crime inner-city areas makes crime appear a greater problem than it is.
                                                                                    1. MARXISTS argue that LEFT REALISTS are naive to assume that the police can be made accountable since they are a key part of the repressive state apparatus protecting capitalist interests.
                                                                                  Show full summary Hide full summary


                                                                                  Functionalist Theory of Crime
                                                                                  A M
                                                                                  Control, Punishment & Victims
                                                                                  A M
                                                                                  Ethnicity, Crime & Justice
                                                                                  A M
                                                                                  Gender, Crime & Justice
                                                                                  A M
                                                                                  Julia Romanów
                                                                                  AQA A2 Biology Unit 4: Populations
                                                                                  Charlotte Lloyd
                                                                                  AQA Physics: A2 Unit 4
                                                                                  Michael Priest
                                                                                  Coloured Compounds (AQA A2 Chemistry)
                                                                                  Filip Lastovka
                                                                                  Sociology: Crime and Deviance Flash cards
                                                                                  Beth Morley
                                                                                  The Weimar Republic, 1919-1929
                                                                                  Globalisation Case Studies