The social construction of a crime
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The social construction of a crime
Crime, fundamentally describes a plethora of misconducts that are regarded by the general public as prohibited or against the law. Essentially, there are numerous factors as well as reasons why crime is usually portrayed and described as ‘a social construction’. “There cannot be social problems that are not the product of social construction-naming, labeling, defining and mapping them into place through which we can make sense of them” CITATION Mun10 l 1033 (Muncie, 2010).
There is, however, some uncertainty that crime “is socially constructed”. “The constructionist perspective draws on a very different sociological inheritance, one that treats society as a matrix of meaning”. In this view, no one can quite comprehend nature in a manner that is not mediated and very straightforward. “Reality is always mediated by meaning” CITATION Cou18 l 1033 (Couldry, 2018). A number of crimes exponent debates, supporting the fact that what humans basically experience is “the social construction of reality”. Naming, identifying and placing something or someone within a distinct map of social order has a very serious inference on how they act or react in relation to the specific social order.
Every individual’s involvement or interest in crime is mainly attributed to some form violence as well as theft. “This concern, reflected in periodic moral panics, tends to ensure that many of those who are involved in theft and criminal violence, do so as a form of secondary deviation” CITATION Tay02 l 1033 (Taylor, I., Walton, P., ; Young, J. , 2002). The resulting consequences are that many, “develop a criminal identity”.
A conclusive report released by the British Crime Survey indicated that the outcome of someone becoming a victim of a resulting crime is molded by “locality, lifestyle, age gender, and ethnicity”. Men below the age of thirty, as per the survey, are more susceptible to being the actual victims of contact crime. These primarily include individuals who reside in railroad or trailer park areas that can be privately rented. Women, as well as the older people, are at a much lower risk of the influence to be involved in crime, this could be because of their perceived meek nature.
Crime is clearly depicted as “socially constructed” through an example of the book “Black Crime” CITATION Hou83 l 1033 (Hough, 1983). In the 1970s, British Crime Survey reports revealed how the media went on to portray the image of the United Kingdom as a “white society”. Criminality, as well as crime, became the center stage that depicted black people as a problematic presence and hence alienating them. Furthermore, in his work in 1987, Gilroy, proved this point when he tackled the analyzed dissertation on crime, race, and countries around the world.
The Blacks way of life was perceived as inferior and usually explained by the lack of strong personalities or a standing societal figure. As Hugh put it more bluntly, “by a lack of respect for the law and British tradition of civility, served to define black people as lesser breeds without the law, as others who stand outside of what is meant to be British” CITATION Hou83 l 1033 (Hough, 1983). Nonetheless, the importance of the continuous demonstrations that led to the interrogation concerning the killing of Lawrence can’t be overlooked. “Dominant representation of black people as a problem for white British society has been successfully challenged”.
Among all communication channels, the media is the most fundamental owing to its ability to reach a multitude of people simultaneously and hence massively influence them. This especially plays a vital role in the “social construction of the crime”. The essence of the information released by the media in shaping the people’s assimilation of social problems is generally acknowledged. In almost every country in the world, crime instances are the most followed news across all the media platforms. “It is suggested that there is a broad correspondence between the images of criminality articulated in the news media and the interpretation for this” CITATION Jew15 l 1033 (Jewkes, 2015). The way the media delivers and presents information concerning a particular crime may, therefore, impact by reinforcing the social construction of the crime.
In order to fully understand the aspect of news presentation as well as the social construction of news making, there is the necessity to evaluate the conscious and the unconscious systems that are involved in the “mass dissemination of symbolic consumer goods”. The convenience of the news production, as well as the social reality pictures, are bound together with the history of a particular culture. Crime is continuously attached to certain kinds of norms or forms of certain behaviors which are illicit and against the law of a state or country, and as in any community or government, there’s a punishment against anything that goes against the provided laws. It may seem easy a task to determine the actual state or meaning of crime, just as the law indicates, by all means, an act itself is not criminal. An act, however, is pronounced a crime when a specific “label of crime has been applied to it, and even very similar acts can be treated very differently depending on the interpretations of the law enforcement agencies, and the context in which the act takes place” CITATION Ehr74 l 1033 (Ehrlich, 1974).
An example to illustrate this is when an individual kills another human being, it’s not immediately described as an act of criminality by the authorities involved. If the same incident were to occur but in a bar fight whereby the individual stabs another to death, it is immediately described as a criminal act. Another instance is if the individual was a soldier in war and kills another human being, he or she will not be labeled a criminal and may actually be hailed a hero. The shifting social altitudes can be looked into as some acts that were labeled criminal acts are no longer criminal and the results are the changing of the laws. For instance, there has been recent alteration with a more flexible legal standing such as in an instant where a reasonable level of force that can be used to defend oneself, when faced against an intruder forcing into his or her home.
Newburn in his work directs his point to the fact that, even if the crime has a definition as stated in the law books, it varies across different institutions, communities, and societies globally and it continuously changes from time to time, further reinforcing the idea that “nothing in itself is criminal”. Even when the act appears to be presumably an act of criminality which is against the law, will require a judgment from the authorities, agencies or jurisdiction involved CITATION Bin70 l 1033 (Bing, 1970). Crimes are pinned to the fact that, a crime is socially constructed as it depends solely on societal members depending on how to perceive and interpret it.
The justice system, in most societies, currently do not concentrate on enforcing the laws as they have been stated, but do occasionally enforce some “unwritten laws”. For instance, there are various ways to engage the police and other authorities in power, such as being polite and well mannered, and in some instances, one may choose to be unruly which is usually never the case. These unwritten behavioral norms are enforced as if they were among other written laws. It is not illicit, for example, using a sarcastic tone in a conversation with a police officer, but in many instances, the conversation can have an influence on the likely punishment that will be received. Also, there is no written law that states that a “defendant in court have to present themselves well and be apologetic but it’s quite possible that poor representation in the courtroom will result into a more brutal sentence” CITATION Cla04 l 1033 (Clarke, 2004).
Moral panic was a concept that was brought forward in 1972, by Stanley Cohen in his extensive review and work on moral panics. He candidly describes the diabolic using of mass media in the 1970s “mods” and “rockers” group of teenet rebels. These rebel groups greatly threatened the “British cultural norms”. In the book, Erich and Norman argue concerning the moral panic indicating that societal reactions to the way people perceives impending danger can be characterized by: “volatility seen in their sudden appearance and rapid spread among large sections of the population through the mass media and other means of communications followed by a rapid decline in further instances of the problem, and, the growth of experts who are claimed to be authorities in discerning cases of the said feared behavior, as well as , measurement of society’s concern through altitude surveys” CITATION Goo94 l 1033 (Goode, 1994).
According to the research carried out in 1998 by victor, indicated moral panics claim that crime doesn’t need to be founded on nature but instead, in “imaginary offenders whose existence gains credibility in the eyes of the public when authorities and those who claim expert knowledge legitimize the accusations” CITATION Kap17 l 1033 (Kappeler, 2017). Victor also further illustrated that “panics of this kind are likely to occur when bureaucratically interest, such as competing agencies, are vying for a jurisdiction of authority; when methods of detection result in errors.”
Summarily, a number of social constructionists have over time analyzed how the social movements, as well as interested personnel, create claims concerning behavior. A number of elements are involved in the process of claims which primarily includes the collection and assessment of these claims. This further enables the comprehension of how discernment is made between morally and immorally upright behavior. The media is also an essential tool used to identify publicly viewed, morally problematic behaviors along with discussing counterclaims and coordinating the help and support received from important social groups.
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Social Construction of Crime. (2015, March 23). Retrieved from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/sociology/social-construction-of-crime.php