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What are theories of deviance and crime? Show more Show less
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The reasons that crime and delinquent behavior exists in society has always perplexed sociologists and psychologists alike. The theories for why this behavior exists ranges from placing the blame on society, to the individual.

Crime is caused by society Show more Show less

Crime is caused by societal attitudes towards people. Class differences and societal pressure also play major roles in causing and defining crime.
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The conflict theory of crime

The conflict theory points to the constant social and economic inequalities in society as the main reason for crime, and describes how criminals are defined in culture

The Argument

The Conflict Theory posits that since resources are limited, there is a constant struggle occurring in society for dominance. The rich and powerful are less likely to be labelled as deviants in society because they have the power in society. [1] Crimes are associated with the poor or average working class person, and crimes committed by those who are wealthy, or of a higher social status will normally go under punished. For instance, the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s struck mostly people in poor urban areas, while regular cocaine, a more expensive drug, was mostly used by the wealthy. [1]Yet, the punishment for possessing crack and for possessing cocaine are vastly different. According to the New York Times, “it takes 100 times more powdered cocaine to draw the same mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison that awaits a person convicted of possessing five grams of crack”.[2] This inequality in sentencing based on race and economic status displays the constant struggle that defines the status of criminals in modern society. Those who are in a lower economic or societal class will always be the perceived criminals in society because they have the least amount of power in society.

Counter arguments

Although there have been discrepancies in punishment for crimes committed by more wealthy people and crimes committed by lower class people, there is not much direct evidence proving the Conflict Theory of crime. While many point to the fact that African American's are overrepresented in American prisons as strong evidence for the Conflict Theory, it's difficult to tie that to conflict theory, as men are also incarcerated more than women are and, according to the Conflict Theory of crime, men have more power in society than women. Many argue that simply because a particular group is overrepresented in prisons, and have different punishments, it does not directly prove or support the Conflict Theory[3].

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/alamo-sociology/chapter/reading-conflict-theory-and-deviance/
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/1995/10/28/us/crack-and-punishment-is-race-the-issue.html
  3. https://samples.jbpub.com/9781284090925/9781284105469_CH08_Vito4e_secure.pdf
This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 05:41 UTC

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