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Example Answers for AQA GCSE Sociology Paper 2 - Crime
Last updated 10 Jun 2019
Please refer to the AQA exam paper for questions and items. These answers have been written by experienced teachers/examiners but without reference to the Mark Scheme.
B Chivalry thesis
C Moral panic
White-collar crimes are non-violent crimes committed by some people who have high status, who may be able to commit the crime because of the job or the contacts they have. An example of a white-collar crime would be fraud, such as the MPs' expenses scandal.
Quantitative, secondary data such as official crime statistics are one example of crime data. This data includes crime that has been reported to and recorded by the police. However, there is an issue with the dark figure of crime.
Anne Campbell used ethnography, as she used two qualitative methods. One strength is that the data would be highly valid, as Campbell was able to get detailed, elaborated answers and full explanations as to why the girls joined gangs, as she was able to ask open and probing questions throughout the unstructured interviews.
One reason the girls might have the same goals as mainstream society is that they have been socialised into the shared norms and values of family and financial stability. A.K. Cohen suggests that people commit crime due to status frustration, as they want to get the shared cultural goals, but do it through illegitimate means.
Unstructured interviews are face-to-face and so will not be fully confidential or anonymous, unlike an anonymous questionnaire. Therefore, the respondents might not be fully honest and fully detailed in their responses, as they would be worried about getting in trouble or arrested if they were fully honest about their delinquent behaviour.
Becker suggested that powerful people have the ability to control / decide what is deviant and not, as they control punishment and law. Becker’s research showed that deviancy was a social construct shaped by the social environment in which the act took place. Becker’s study of the Outsiders found that if people where labelled deviant this could become a self-fulfilling prophecy and people would believe their label and it could become their master status.
One issue for defining deviance is that it is a social construct, which means the definition of deviance is shaped by society’s interactions. It is not a straightforward definition; instead it can vary over time / location / social group. For example, it might not be deviant in one person’s house to swear but in another’s it would be.
Some sociologists would suggest that institutional racism in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) continues to be an issue, as the MacPherson Report identified that the police were institutionally racist. Evidence of institutional racism in the CJS could be that members ethnic minorities are disproportionately arrested and stopped and searched. This could be due to institutional racism, such as there being a racist canteen culture among some members of the police. This means that some racist stereotypes are accepted and not challenged. However, in criticism of this it could be that ethnic minorities are disproportionally arrested and stop and searched because disproportionally ethnicity minorities live in urban city centres where more crime is committed.
It could also argued that the CJS it not institutionally racist and there is training and independent research to ensure racism does not happen within the CJS. However, this could be criticised with the view that racism does still exist but it is behind closed doors, despite there now being systems to reduce it happening.
To conclude, some elements of the CJS could be institutionally racist; however, it would not be the whole of the CJS. Like with any organisation, there is the risk some small groups of individuals may have racist views. With this in mind, many institutions, such as the police, are attempting to overcome racism.
Functionalists and New Right theories would both agree that the main reason for criminal behaviour is a result of inadequate socialisation – the teaching of norms and values. For sociologists such as Parsons, adequate primary and secondary socialisation of universalistic norms and values is the foundation for reducing crime, for example teaching right and wrong. These shared norms and values create consensus and therefore less crime. Socialisation can come from school and family, for instance. However, some sociologists would disagree, as the family and school are becoming less important and there is not one main reason for why people commit crime.
Arguably, inadequate socialisation may contribute to crime, but is not the main reason, as people have many influences. For example, there might be a person who has perfectly adequate primary and secondary socialisation, but still commits crime due to living in poverty. In fact, adequate socialisation into the shared cultural values can cause crime, as some people do not have the means to achieve society's aims and so turn to illegitimate means and commit crime. A. K. Cohen supports this claim, as he believes some working-class people commit crime because they have status frustration.
Alternatively, Marxists would suggest the main reason for crime is economic inequality, which leads to the working class committing crime as result of ongoing oppression. Therefore, poverty and inequality could be the main reason for crime. However, some sociologists would disagree with poverty being a reason for crime, as they believe the benefits system reduces absolute poverty.
Finally, inadequate socialisation through the media could be a reason, as more people are having access to the online (new) media and may become violent or abusive as they may think it is normal. An example of this would be cybercrime, e.g. trolling on social networking sites.
To conclude, socialisation might be one reason for crime, but not the main reason, and many factors could influence crime, such as living in poverty.
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