ACTIVITY: PAIRS Study the handout and answer the questions provided... ...Discuss the findings.
ORIGINS In the 19 th Century, the Irish were considered a ‘dangerous class’ – first links between crime and racial groups. The debate over the nature of the link between ethnicity and crime is still going strong...
PATTERNS OF CRIMINALITY In 2004-5… Black ethnic groups = 2.8% of the UK population, and 13.5% of the prison population. Asian ethnic groups = 4.7% of the population, and 5.4% of the prison population. White ethnic groups under-represented. This leads to two possible conclusions: Some ethnic groups are more criminal than others. The criminality of some ethnic minorities is exaggerated/misrepresented by the statistics.
SMALL GROUPS: DISCUSS Why might some ethnic groups be more criminal than others? Give three reasons. If it is not the case that some ethnic minorities are more criminal that others, what could be happening in society to make it appear that way, statistically? Give three suggestions.
ARGUMENT #1: ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE CRIMINAL
ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE CRIMINAL This view holds that the statistics are generally accurate and that ethnic minorities do commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Some supporters of the view suggest that certain ethnic groups may have an innate or cultural predisposition to crime. In the UK, the group most associated with crime was originally the Irish, then Afro-Caribbean people and more recently, some Asian and Eastern- European groups.
HOST-IMMIGRANT MODEL (PARK, 1950) Functionalists like Park believe the statistics and therefore agree that some ethnic groups are more criminal… However, they believe these problems are a result of cultural differences and are temporary… Conflict between immigrant populations and host populations is due to a conflict of values and norms e.g. East European immigrants drinking and driving. The conflict disappears once the immigrant population is fully integrated. Does this mean immigrants should lose their own distinctive norms and values?
RECAP: What do the following mean: a) Assimilation b) Multiculturalism Which of the two should is most desirable for a society?
DISCUSS (SMALL GROUPS) How do we fully assimilate immigrant populations into the UK, to avoid major conflicts like Islamic terrorism? What sort of things would you consider to be ‘UK Culture’? Can we expect immigrants to accept a culture whose norms include binge drinking, violence and teenage pregnancy? Are the immigrants really the problem, or is it racism in the UK that’s to blame? (5 MINS, THEN FEEDBACK)
THE MARXIST VIEW: CAPITALISM = RACISM = CRIME Some Marxists might accept that ethnic minorities may be more criminal… …But they argue that this is due to way minority groups are treated in capitalist societies. Ethnic minorities are part of a reserve army of labour. During economic slumps, they are first to be made redundant. They thus turn to crime (drug dealing, prostitution etc.) to generate income.
THE MARXIST VIEW: CAPITALISM = RACISM = CRIME Capitalists use racism to justify low wages etc. (Castles & Kosack; 1973) White working-classes blame ethnic minorities for unemployment etc. – they ‘other’ them. This makes minorities more likely to be victims, but also… …May make them more likely to turn to crime, as a way of resisting racism. Abbas (2005) claimed that Islamaphobia had made Asian crime and violence worse and will continue to do so. Desai (1999) studied Asian communities and found crime was increasing due to young Asian males standing up for their families and communities in ways previous generations had been afraid to.
REALIST VIEWS Left Realists such as Lea & Young (1984) believe crime is a result of relative deprivation and marginalisation. Ethnic minorities are more likely to experience these things (with racism being one of the main reasons for this). Some Right Realists such as Murray (1984) believed that some ethnic minorities (Murray talked specifically about African-Americans) were culturally more prone to criminality. Murray linked this to irresponsible parenting and an unwillingness to work (both of which he suggested were also cultural).
ARGUMENT #2: ETHNIC MINORITY CRIME IS MIS- REPRESENTED BY STATISTICS
INSTITUTIONAL RACISM…? Ethnic minorities may be treated differently by the criminal justice system (e.g. Macpherson Inquiry, 1999 – re: Stephen Lawrence). If this is the case, evidence of their criminality (and victimisation) is distorted/misrepresented. In Small Groups: Research the Stephen Lawrence case and subsequent inquiries. What evidence can you find that ethnic minorities were mistreated or treated differently by the criminal justice system? What reasons are given for this? (10 mins)
INSTITUTIONAL RACISM…? Ethnic neighbourhoods can be over-policed, and police more militant (Phillips & Bowling; 2002) Courts tend to give black men more – and longer - custodial sentences than white men for the same offences (Hood; 1992).
THE LABELLING OF MINORITIES Ethnic minority groups might be more likely to be labelled as criminal to suit the needs of capitalist societies. This exaggerates their criminality and distorts public perceptions. What major study that we have already covered demonstrates this?
OTHER SUPPORTING STUDIES Alexander (2000) – Asian Gangs Looked into the issue of Asian/Muslim youth gangs following a media ‘moral panic’ about conflict between these groups and black gangs. She found that the idea of Asian ‘gangs’ was not accurate: There were no organised Asian gangs and, within groups of Asian youths, locality and individuality were more important that the group, and members of the groups did not share the same attitudes towards black ‘gangs’. FitzGerald et al (2003) Researched ethnic-minority street-crime in London (using interviews and statistical data). They found that there were high-rates of ethnic-minority offending (mainly young, black males). However, they pointed out that it was not necessarily that this group was more criminal – simply that, within the population of London, a large proportion of all young males are black. Young black male offenders were motivated by the same things and had the same attitudes as offenders of any other ethnicity. Links were found between single-parent families and criminality – and African-Caribbean households were more likely to be headed by a lone parent.
THE BLACK CRIMINALITY MYTH (GILROY, 1983) British Asians and African Caribbeans have historically learned to resist exploitation through anti-colonial struggles (the historic effort to resist Western attempts to control and exploit non-Western people). Riots/demonstrations show them still resisting society, while black criminality is created through negative stereotyping and prejudice from the police. So, Gilroy seems to agree that there are historic/cultural differences that lead to crime…but overall, blames social factors and police conduct for exaggerating the issues…
LEA & YOUNG (1984) Disagree with Gilroy, as: Most crimes are reported by the public (so, it can’t be the police that are racist…) Crime rate for Asian groups is significantly lower than for African- Caribbean groups (so if the police/public are racist, it’s selective…) Statistics show that first-generation immigrants were law-abiding. Police may exaggerate the ethnic crime rate, but it has increased nonetheless.
INDIVIDUAL WRITTEN TASK Consider both sides of the argument and write your own conclusion (single paragraph), identifying which side you find most convincing and why. 15 mins
DISCUSS: PAIRS In your own town/area, where does most crime happen? What areas seem to have no crime? Ext: - How might you explain these differences? 5 mins – then feedback
THE CHICAGO SCHOOL: ECOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CRIME ‘The Chicago School’ describes a group of US Sociologists in the 1920s and 1930s who specialised in ‘urban sociology’. A great deal of their work is about crime.
PLACE AND CRIME Most crime happens in cities, or other large urban areas. In the UK – and all over the world – our cities are growing and expanding, and rural areas are either losing population or being absorbed into cities. Logically, this means crime will increase. Durkheim blamed much crime on anomie, linked to the breakdown of communities that happens in urban areas. The Chicago School sought to explain why and where crime occurs in urban areas.
THE BIOLOGICAL ANALOGY Park (1936) applied Darwinian ideas of natural selection and survival of the fittest to cities. He saw cities as a struggle for space, in a continual state of conflict between different groups, each competing for the best habitats. Park believed immigration was a key factor in this conflict (every wave of immigrant creates a new struggle). The ‘winners’ of the conflict get to live in the best areas, the losers are forced into the slums.
SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION Shaw & McKay (1942) divided cities into five concentric circles. They noted that Zone 2 had the highest crime rates by a long way – and that this remained consistent, despite the population changing regularly. In pairs/groups – create a concentric zone model for your own town. Is it easy to do?
SOCIAL DISORGANZATION Shaw & Mckay identified that arriving immigrants were always placed in zone 2. As they establish themselves, they move outwards into more desirable zones and are replaced by the next wave of immigrants. This creates social disorganization. The zone is populated by groups who are not established and who may possess different norms and values. They do not stay long enough to build structured communities. Prostitution, alcoholism and crime naturally result from this. Which other theory could this be linked to?
CULTURAL TRANSMISSION Sutherland & Cressey (1954) adapted Shaw & Mckay’s ideas. They did not necessarily agree that it is mainly ‘new’ immigrants in zone 2 that are responsible for crime. They claim that in zone 2, criminal behaviour becomes a norm – and it is therefore passed down from one generation to the next through socialisation. Successful criminals become role models for young people. This is called ‘cultural transmission’ and was also a big influence on the later work of Cloward & Ohlin.
CRITICISMS These views don’t acknowledge that offences within the high-crime zones might be committed by people living outside them (Bottoms; 2007) Their model, based on Chicago, doesn ’ t really fit in with how most modern European cities are planned. Wilkstrom (1991) identified highest crime rates in city centres, poor areas and rich areas that are right next to poor areas.
BALDWIN & BOTTOMS (1976) Described process of ‘tipping’. Antisocial behaviour develops in an area; those who can, leave – those who can’t, or who are linked to the behaviour remain. Informal controls break down – the area is ‘tipped’. What theory is this reminiscent of?
SAMPSON (1997) Violent crime occurs when a community cannot achieve its objectives and is unable to build trust or agree on how to intervene when order is under threat.
IDENTIFY ‘ Socio-spatial criminology ’ – examines links between where offenders live and where offences happen. In Pairs: Identify three ways in which where an offender lives might influence the location in which he/she commits offences...
OTHER STUDIES … On average, burglars travel two miles to commit an offence (Wiles & Costello; 2000). Offenders most likely to commit crimes in areas that they are cognitively familiar (e.g. where they work, live, play – and all the routes that link these places). (Brantingham & Brantingham; 1991)
FELSON (2006) Routine Action Theory – Crimes occur where suitable targets are close to offenders. Offenders usually commit crimes close to where they live or spend time. Routine Activities also increase likelihood of being victims: If you go drinking in Northampton town centre three nights a week, your chances of being a victim go up.
HOMEWORK Essay or blog: 1000 words Most crime happens in the parts of towns and cities that are already bad. Discuss and evaluate this view, using theories and ideas discussed in class alongside your own examples. Due: TTNW
AGE & CRIME In England/Wales, 20% of offenders aged 10-17 and around 35% under 21 (Newburn, 2007) Peak offending ages for males are 14 (property crime), 16 (violent crime) and 17 (serious offences). For females, 15 (serious/property) and 16 (violent). (Graham & Bowling, 1995)
DISCUSS What sociological explanations have we already covered regarding why young people commit such a proportion of crime?
RELEVANT SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES ALREADY COVERED Hirschi (Bonds of Attachment/Social Control) Matza (Drift/Subterranean Values) Moral Panics (S. Cohen) All the subcultural theories (A. Cohen, Cloward & Ohlin, CCCS etc). ?
YOUTH OFFENDING Crimes such as arson are rites of passage; young people ’ s way of symbolically destroying adult power... (Presdee; 2004)
‘ YOUTH CRIME ’ – A REAL PROBLEM? The statistics ignore white collar/corporate crime, which young people tend not to be involved in. Findings from self-report studies may not be valid. Fears about youth crime are often exaggerated in the media through moral panics.
4. SOCIAL CLASS Note: If you get a question on Social Class in the exam, you should refer mainly to the Marxist arguments.
SOCIAL CLASS & CRIME Crime is particularly common in the underclass (Murray; 1989) Official statistics support the view that crime is concentrated in the working classes, but many believe these are unrepresentative.
SOCIAL CLASS & CRIME Those from lower class backgrounds may be more likely to be labelled than those from higher income backgrounds (Becker; 1963 – supported by Cicourel). There is class bias in the law; values of capitalism encourage greed; crimes of the higher classes damage society more (Marxists)
SOCIAL CLASS & CRIME All classes commit crime, but some perspectives focus too much on crime of higher classes – we mustn ’ t ignore street crime (Left realists) Although crime occurs in all classes, typical working class crimes are different to typical upper/middle class crimes.