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Crim and Sociology definition of crime

Crime is defined depending on the world view and is recognised as a social construct.


Legal/formal definition of crime

whatever is identified as the state to be a crime. It is written into the law and subject to state sanction


Crime as social harm

the idea that crime involves criminal and civil offences. Each action or inaction brings some types of harm and goes against the common welfare of society. Each should be penalised.


Crime as a conduct or norm violation

identifies deviance to be natural inherent to all societies and defines the boundaries of acceptable conduct.


Crime and human rights violation

defines crime as acts where the state is the offender and that a crime occurs whenever a human right has been violated regardless of legality.



philosophical theory which asserts that knowledge can only be derived and validated by scientific verification


Social scientific methodology

the scientific method applied through a variety of tools, approaches and techniques for collecting and analysing data, as positivism is the theory behind this application.


Assumptions of functionalism (Durkheim)

○ All societies share basic or common parts that meet the needs of its members

○ All parts or 'social structures' are intertwined

○ Societies generally gravitate towards equilibrium or stability

Society is always evolving and adapting


Assumptions of Conflict theory

○ Society is a an outcome of social conflict and inequality

○ Society is in competition for limited resources
Marxism - Elites seek to maintain power and status creating an arena of conflict

Weber - Society is determined by the specific historical, ideational and material conditions


Assumptions of Symbolic Interactionism (Blumer)

○ Human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things

○ Meaning is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society

- Meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretive process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters


Official Data

Data that is collected and reported by official governmental agencies

Used to measure crime and crime control


Victimisation data

Collected from victim surveys and its an unofficial type of data

Used to address problems with official data -> particularly the dark figure of crime


Self-report data

Survey's administered to sample populations that measure attitudes, beliefs and behaviours and demographic data

Anonymity so people are more truthful

Way to measure unreported criminal behaviour, substance abuse and DV -> ie crimes that are hard to measure directly


Dark figure of crime

the unreported crime that exists but is never known to authorities or researchers


Qualitative research

non-numerical or observational forms of data that looks at how people understand and interpret crime.


Quantitative research

numerical and statistical based and used to make inferences as to the frequency and occurrence of crime in the larger populations.


Correlates of crime

factors associated with and patterned variables of crime.

- age
- gender
- social class
- ecological factors


Age as a correlate of crime

age crime curve - more young people commit crimes and this decreases over time


Gender as a correlate of crime

Men are more likely to commit crimes than women

Additionally men are more likely to be victims of crime than women (except sex based offences)


Social class as a correlate of crime

Official statistics show that crime is higher in inner-city and higher poverty areas.

Some crimes vary between classes and consider issues with policing methods.


Ecological factors as a correlate of crime

Associated with day, season and climate.

More crimes occur during the summer months, rise with temperature, and within large urban areas.