Crime and Deviance

In my assignment I am going to be defining crime and deviance, formal and informal deviance, societal and situational deviance and the sources that can affect crime and deviance. I am also going to be discussing how we measure crime and deviance. Crime is an act that breaks the law or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public’s welfare or morals to the interest of the state and that is legally prohibited.

Some of the acts that may break the law are murder, shoplifting, rape, fraud, robbery just to name a few. Deviance is committing an act that does not break the law, but the social norm, not doing what is expected or thought of as proper behavior within society, the behavior outside of the social norms like picking your nose in public, having tattoos all over your body, smoking and drinking as well as piercings just to name a few. There are two types of deviance formal and informal deviance.

Formal deviance is the type of behavior that contravenes (goes against) the laws in society, the person committing the act would be criminal because the act that they committed would have been illegal, behaviors such as rape and murder would result in the person who has committed the act to be arrested and according to the act that they have committed. As of informal deviance, it is an individual or a group of people who do not conform to the general trends of society for example subcultures like gypsies and emos as well as people who have an excessive amount of tattoos and piercings.

Subcultures are a group of people in society whose behavior and sometimes style of dress or simply the way they talk is significantly different from that of a wider society. These types of group’s standout in society because of the uniqueness of their culture. For instance gypsies are easiest to recognise because of their style of dress and the way they live their lives. There is also societal and situational deviance. These two types of deviance are similar to that of formal and informal deviance but focus more on behavior rather that the act itself.

Societal deviance is the norms created in a society which everyone has to abide by, it is categories of behavior that is illegal or considered to be “commonly sensed” by other people to be deviant e. g. spraying graffiti on walls, vandalism, being in a gang, using rude language. These are some types of the acts that not necessarily break the law but seen as deviant in society. Situational deviance is how different groups within our society develop their norms of behavior.

This type of behavior may be considered to be “odd” when compared to society as a whole, the types of behavior that is carried out by that of sub cultural groups in society e. g. gypsies, emo's,’ bohemians, chavs. Chavs are part of a subculture in society. The way they act is different to that of everyone else in society, the language (slang), dress code, and the love of cars. Chavs are a group of people who are not motivated by being successful and having a career but would happily obtain possessions for free i. e. from tax payers.

This is frowned upon by the rest of society. Crime and deviance is affected by different sources, location and media. Location affects crime and deviance in a way that where you live say a lot about a person’s upbringing and as far to say the type of person they are or likely to be. Britain may not have the same crime level and may not have the same outlook when it comes to deviant behavior as some other countries in Africa. Third world countries may not have the same sources as Britain, for that reason certain percentage of crimes would be higher than that of Britain.

The behavior which we may recognize as deviant, in other countries may be seen as normal e. g. in South Africa being married to two women is seen as normal rather than a deviant act whereas in Britain that would be considered to be a deviant and illegal act by society. The media is a very powerful force within society with mass of technology being developed every day, people get influenced into believing what is normal not taking into consideration that the information can be misleading and bias. The media exaggerate certain aspects of entertainment e. . two newspaper companies may publish the same story but the other may twist the truth to add certain interest and buzz about a certain story. This may lead to the general public believing misleading information because the picture often created by media is selective and empasises on the negative rather than the positive. Hagen’s theory states the three main ways in which crime can be measured. 1. The degree of agreement about the wrongfulness of the act. 2. The societal evaluation of the harm inflicted by the act. . The degree of severity of the social response to the act Furthermore the more serious acts of deviance involve, these are broad levels of agreement about the wrongfulness of the act, involves high levels of social harm, and involves a very strong social reaction to the act across society as a whole. Defining crime is complex, it dependents on social, political and economic factors. Crime is an act punishable by law. If somebody breaks the law, whether it is a serious or minor crime, s/he will be punished.

Some argue that no matter how immoral, damaging or dangerous an act is, it is not a crime unless it is made such by the authorities and no act can be considered criminal before and unless a court has handed out some penalty or punishment. People may not report crime for different reasons, for example, lack of trust in the police or choosing to deal with the situation personally. It has been suggested that only about a small percent of crime is reported to the police. To conclude it is clear that statistics do not provide a clear figure of total crime, because of dark figures of crime unreported, therefore they are not reliable.