Blog Post 15: Evaluating Labelling Theory's Approach to Crime and Deviance
Evaluation is a really important skill at A-level especially in the second year. Most students think it is about criticism but at this level it is about identifying the strengths of theories too. Exam questions on interactionism are quite popular so I recommend you get to know the theory and its evaluation pretty well...
Blog Post 14: Some Observations on Labelling Theory
Here are some observations on the interactionist theory of crime and deviance, otherwise known as labelling theory which is part of the Social Action approach to explaining society. It is a very popular option as far as the examiners are concerned - they love asking questions about it, so you need to know it well. In my view, the theory can be boiled down to three parts (1) What is deviance (and therefore crime)?;(2) Why are some people more likely to be labelled or stereotyped as criminals?; (3) What are the consequences for both the individual and society of this negative labelling?
Blog Post 13: Some Observations on the Increasingly Globalised Nature of Crime
This is a relatively new area for criminologists (and politicians and police forces) because globalisation and therefore global crime has only really taken off in the last 30 years. There are several reasons why crime has become a global phenomenon. Air travel and tourism have become cheaper (therefore making it profitable and easier to smuggle illegal products like drugs) across borders; New information and digital communication technologies such as the internet, e-mail and the cheap availability of mobile burner phones have made it easier for international criminals and terrorists to communicate with one another and to set up, for example, illegal businesses such as porn sites which can be accessed via the internet in the West...
Blog Post 12: Is James Bond a State-Sponsored Murderer? - arguments about state crime
What have the actors, Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore all got in common? They have, of course, played Commander James Bond 007, a MI6 agent who is sent out into the world by Britain’s SIS (Secret Intelligent Service) to kill the enemies of the British State. A recent survey of the 26 Bond films found that Bond has killed or should we say ‘executed’ or ‘murdered’ 370 people on direct orders from his bosses despite the fact that Britain no longer practices the death penalty. In essence, James Bond is a state-sponsored killer...
Blog Post 11: Some Thoughts on Green Crime
Brisman and South (2017) point out that the ‘present global financial system depends on the exploitation of resources in order to maintain growth in production and consumption’ (p329). If you are a consumer, lets say, of a smart phone or anything that comes wrapped in plastic packaging, Brisman and Smith observe that your demand for manufactured products comes at great cost in terms of levels of pollution and waste that are ‘noticeably damaging ecosystems and even changing the climate of the planet’. For example, if you have recently updated your smartphone, have you ever given any thought to the disposal of your old one? Most phone companies send your old phones to recycling plants in Africa and China although as Annie Leonard points out, workers in these parts of the world often dismantle electronics’ harmful insides without proper personal or environmental protection....
Blog Post 10: Corporate crime: the corporation as institutional psychopath
Steve Tombs in a recent tweet notes that ‘crime is routine and ubiquitous in neo-liberal capitalism’. This article which aims to focus on corporate crime intends to take Tombs’ observation one step further using the work of Joel Bakan (embodied in his book and documentary film‘The Corporation’) and to argue that the harms to people and the environment caused by corporations and the crimes they frequently commit are paradoxically the result of a legal system that empowers corporations to relentlessly pursue profit and wealth regardless of the consequences...
Blog Post 9: Marketisation and Privatisation: The Great Education Swindle
Since the 1980s there has been an intense debate about whether education should be provided exclusively by the state or public sector. Those who argue in favour of this suggest that education is a fundamental human right. Moreover it is argued that only the State has the power to ensure equality of opportunity for all social groups in terms of access to qualifications and to make sure that all talents and skills, rather than just those of an elite few, are potentially realised. The same argument suggests that such equality of opportunity guarantees an effective society and economy in which those with talents are fairly rewarded on the basis of merit...
Blog Post 8: White-collar crime
This blog is focused on white collar crime which can be distinguished from working-class crime in several ways. Firstly, it is usually committed by respectable and educated middle-class people who occupy positions of status, trust, responsibility and specialist expertise within legitimate business organisations or institutions such as banks, professional partnerships and management companies. However many white collar criminals are also self-employed professionals such as solicitors, accountants and dentists. White-collar crime, therefore, is carried out whilst at work and involves the criminal abusing the trust that their superiors or clients have invested in them. These crimes therefore involve a degree of deception, duplicity and fraud which are difficult to observe because the offender will use their position and power to skilfully cover their tracks. I myself have had indirect experience of this aspect of white-collar crime. In the 1970s before I embarked upon my sociological career I was employed as an accounts clerk by a well-known ferry company...
Blog Post 7: Cloward and Ohlin's Illegitimate opportunity structure theory
This blog was inspired by my fellow blogger Karl Thompson who recently announced that he was eradicating all trace of Cloward and Ohlin from his crime and deviance handouts. I sympathise because for many years before I retired I believed that much subcultural theory had dated very badly and had little relevance to the modern world. However I persevered as I saw that Rob Webb the AQA Chief Examiner continued to write about it in some depth in his textbook and I saw references to it on marking schemes. So what follows are some ideas that might help teachers 'jazz' up and make socially relevant the theory of Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin who argued back in the 1950s that lack of opportunity could lead to the potential formation of three subcultures that offered young people opportunities for involvement with illegal or criminal activity...
Blog Post 6: Criminogenic capitalism
Marxists or Radical criminologists argue that the capitalist economic system that we all experience on a daily basis is criminogenic which means that crime is a natural outcome of the values and norms that people are socialised into by capitalism and their everyday experiences of that economic system. David Gordon argues that capitalism strongly encourages people to believe in a free-market ideology, known as neo-liberalism that suggests that status and success can only be truly measured or achieved via the acquisition of wealth and consumer goods.Moreover the capitalist system encourages a ‘dog eat dog’ mentality as people and businesses are encouraged to compete with one another.
The criminogenic nature of capitalism also means that people raised in such societies often put their self-interest before the interests of the community or society in which they live often without conscience or regardless of the costs to others. In summary then, both Gordon and Chambliss argue that capitalist values such as individualism, competition, materialism and cultural goals such as the pursuit of profit and wealth create pressure on all social classes to commit crime. These values and goals produce a culture of greed among the ‘haves’ and a culture of envy among the ‘have-nots’...
Blog Post 5: Why inequality has widened to record levels over the last forty years
This is the second of two blogs which focus on Jacques Peretti’s recent BBC documentaries on the Super-Rich and the causes of the widening inequalities in both income and wealth which characterise British society in 2017. If you are studying AQA Stratification and Differentiation or OCR’S Understanding Social Inequalities hopefully you will find this blog useful in explaining why the UK is a stratified society and also gain some insight into how inequality has come about and why the gap between the rich and poor is at its widest...
Blog Post 4: Jacques Peretti on the rise of the Super-Rich
This is a summary of the findings of the first of two documentaries on ‘The Super-Rich’ presented by Jacques Peretti, and shown by the BBC in 2017. Peretti points out that the period 2016-2017 is the most unequal period in human history with regard to the distribution of wealth and income. For example, in 2017, 85 individuals own as much wealth as half of the world’s population. In the UK, austerity cuts to public services have totalled £80 billion since 2008 which is the amount paid out in bonuses to the UK’s top bankers in the same period. In 2016 the wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK increased by £70 billion. Moreover the income of this top 1000 people equals the combined earnings of Britain’s full-time workforce..
Blog Post 3: How does Emile Durkheim explain crime and deviance?
This piece is aimed at furthering the understanding of Sociology A-level students studying either the AQA or OCR units on Crime and Deviance. The focus of this blog are the ideas of Emile Durkheim who is seen by many as one of the founding fathers of both Functionalism and sociological positivism. I am particularly interested in Durkheim's ideas about crime, deviance and law. I am going to suggest that A-level students need to understand two key ideas in Durkheim's work. Firstly, he claims that crime increases and law & order becomes weaker when societies undergo serious economic and social change. In order to explore this idea we need to understand that Durkheim identified two types of society – those based on mechanical solidarity – and those based onorganic solidarity...
Blog Post 2: Toxic masculinity
This is an interesting time to be a sociologist especially if you are teaching or studying the AQA unit Culture and Identity or the OCR unit Introducing Socialisation, Culture and Identity. Both units require an examination and understanding of gender identity, especially hegemonic masculinity and femininity. The allegations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein, the theatre director Max Stafford- Clark and the ex-Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon have re-opened the debate about how the dominant hegemonic version of masculinity is often toxic in terms of its negative effect on relationships between men and women. This toxic masculinity often underpins patriarchy and legitimates the abuse of male power in many areas of social life....
Blog Post 1: Welcome to Sociologystuff.com
Welcome to Sociologystuff.com! The purpose of this site is to offer free for download study notes and guides to both teachers and students which cover most topics on the AQA and OCR Sociology specifications. Since I retired in 2015 these notes have been filed away so I thought it was time to put them to good use by uploading them to this site. You will find study notes on the Family, Health, Research Methods, Crime and Deviance, Sociological Theory and Beliefs in Society already on the site. Hopefully over the next few months I will add study notes on Culture and Identity, Education, Global development and Stratification.....