A Level Sociology – Outline Questions (4 and 6 Marks, Education Paper 1)

Four and Six mark outline questions appear on the education and crime and deviance AQA A level sociology exam papers. This blog post shows you some possible examples of outline questions which might appear on the Education exam paper, along with some suggested answers.

NB These questions are marked in a ‘1+1’ style – you get one mark for identifying and one mark for developing and explaining further. So to be on the safe side, make a point and then develop it – do this twice for a 4 mark question, and thrice for a three mark question.

Outline two ways in which material deprivation may affect educational achievement (4 marks)

Suggested points, you need to add in the explanations as to HOW these factors have a negative effect on educational achievement.

  • Smaller, overcrowded houses
  • Poor diets and higher levels of sickness
  • Less/no educational books/toys, PC’s
  • Parents can’t afford to support children in education after 16
  • Less access to nursery facilities
  • W/C more likely to have part time jobs.
  • Schools themselves, less resources etc than schools in M/C areas
  • Selection by mortgage
  • Can’t afford private tutors

Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining two ways)

  • (ID) Low income means families will live in smaller houses which could mean there is lack of a private study space, or children may even have to share bedrooms. (EX) This means there is no quiet space for children to do homework, which could result in them falling behind at school.
  • (ID) Children from low income households are more likely to have poor diets, the low nutritional content of which could result in higher levels of sickness. (EX) This could result in them having time off school, which could have a detrimental effect on their education.

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Outline two ways in which cultural deprivation may affect educational achievement (4 marks)

Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining two ways)

  • (ID) Working class pupils are more likely to have immediate Gratification (wanting to work straight after school to earn money immediately) (EX) this explains working class underachievement because working class kids are more likely to be poor thus more likely to want to earn money immediately after finishing their GCSEs, which means they are less likely to stay onto further education
  • (ID) The working classes are more likely to be fatalistic, which is where one resigns oneself to the fact that they can’t improve their lot in life. (EX) This explains working class underachievement because they think they are inevitably going to go into working class jobs so don’t try hard at school as there is no point.

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Outline three reasons why girls are now generally out-performing boys in education (6 marks)

Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining three ways)

  • (ID) Introduction of coursework: (EX) has enabled girls to do better as they are more organised, meticulous, persistent, etc than boys and this is rewarded in coursework.
  • (ID) Changes in the family such as more divorce (EX) has given girls a greater incentive to gain useful qualifications, as they cannot now expect to be full-time housewives permanently provided for by their husbands.
  • (ID) Changes in the labour market such greater numbers of women working and opportunities for promotion (EX) have given girls more role models and the inspiration to achieve qualifications with which to pursue a career. 

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Outline three reasons why girls are less likely to choose science subjects than boys (6 marks)

Suggested points, you need to add in the explanations in most cases.

  • Teacher’s sexist ideas channelling girls into ‘girls subjects’
  • Science taught in a male way using male examples (engines), put girls off
  • Biological differences. Girls better at communication, not much discussion in science subjects
  • Differential parental encouragement
  • Boys more likely to play with technical toys
  • Fewer girls in text books
  • Fewer female science teachers
  • Boys dominate classroom by dominating practical equipment

 Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining three ways)

  • (ID) Teachers may have stereotypical ideas that girls would struggle in male dominated subjects such as physics, (EX) and they may try and put them off, steering them towards other, more traditionally feminine subjects such as English, meaning fewer girls end up doing science subjects.
  • (ID) Science subjects are often taught using masculine examples – for example, physics text books might use cars to illustrate the laws of motion. (EX) This might put girls off doing physics because they have no interest in the masculine examples used to teach these subjects.
  • (ID) Girls are more likely to be socialised into discussing their feelings, (EX) and thus they might be more likely to choose subjects such as history and English where you need to discuss things more, rather than sciences where there is less discussion and ‘one right answer’.
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Sociology Concepts: Education

Definitions and examples of the most important key concepts for the A level sociology 7192 (1) exam, including the definition of labelling, the correspondence principal, meritocracy, privatization, and lots more. All of the concepts below are most relevant to the education module within A-level sociology, but many have wider application.

sociology concepts education (1)

Initially I include only the ‘most important’ sociology words. More to follow later, as with all tings in life, this is work in progress.

A-C Economy    

Where schools focus a disproportionate amount of their resources on making sure ‘middling’ students get 5 A*-Cs, rather than helping to boost more able students or getting less able students passes below the 5- A*C threshold.

Achieved status

Where individuals gain their social position in society through their own efforts, rather than that position being based on their ascribed characteristics such as their ‘race’ or their class background.

Ascribed status

Where an individual’s position in society is pre-determined by their birth or social characteristics. An example of this is the royal inheritance in the United Kingdom: only a son of Queen Lizzie II can become King when she dies.

Banding/ Streaming

Grouping students by ability. Students are put into the same group across all subjects (unlike setting, which is where students might be placed in different ability groups in different subject.

Canalisation

Where choices of subjects become gradually more limited as children progress through school.

Compensatory Education

Educational policies which provide additional money or resources for students facing cultural or material deprivation. The idea is that the extra money/resources helps overcome disadvantage and boost results.

Comprehensive School

One type of school for all students. Non-selective schools where all students have an equal opportunity within the same school.

Comprehensivisation

The establishment of comprehensive schools in the 1960s which replaced the selective tripartite system.

Correspondence principle

The Marxist idea that the norms and values pupils learn in school prepare them for their future exploitation at work.

For example, schools teach pupils to be ‘motivated by external rewards’ – they learn to put up with boring lessons in order to achieve higher grades, thus focussing on the end result of learning rather than the ‘joy of learning’ itself’. This corresponds (relates) to putting up with the dull routine of working life in a factory day to day, while focussing on the pay packet at the end of the month.

Related concepts: ideological state apparatus, Marxism, socialisation, hidden curriculum.

Counter school culture

A group within a school which has norms and values in direct opposition to the mainstream culture of the school. E.G. a group of students who see value in messing around and ‘having a laugh’ or disrupting lessons rather than working hard and studying. Status will be rewarded within the counter school culture on the basis of how deviant they are, how far they go against school rules.

Cultural capital

The skills, knowledge and attitudes associated with the dominant culture, possessed by the middle classes, which give middle class parents and children an advantage in life.

Cultural capital is a Marxist concept used to explain why middle-class pupils achieve more than working class pupils do. As part of the dominant culture, middle class pupils have an automatic advantage over working class pupils because they share the culture of the school. Their language is like that of teachers (also middle-class) and their values correspond more closely to those of the school. This ‘cultural capital’ enables middle class families to pass on their superior position to their children and in so doing, reproduce class inequalities.

Related concepts: skilled and disconnected choosers, habitus, social capital.

Cultural deprivation

Where some groups, such as the lower social classes have inferior norms, values, skills and knowledge which hold them back in life.

Cultural deprivation can have a negative effect on the education of working class children: poor language skills can mean the students struggle to understand what they are taught, and the fact that working class parents do not value education means that their children are less likely to stay on at school post-16.

Related concepts: material deprivation, immediate and deferred gratification, restricted and elaborated speech codes.

Cycle of Deprivation

Where one aspect of material disadvantage has a knock on effect and leads to other types of disadvantage, such that poverty is reinforced and carries on, often across generations. For example, being poor, means a poor diet , means more sickness, means more time of work, means more poverty.

Deferred Gratification

Where one delays immediate reward and instead works hard now in order to receive a greater reward in the future.

Deterministic

Self-fulfilling prophecy theory is often criticised as being deterministic, because it assumes that a particular input (labelling) always has the same affect (the subject accepts their label), without taking into account the fact that individuals respond in different ways based on their different subjective views of the situation in which the labelling takes place.

Disconnected Choosers

Working class parents who simply send their children to local schools rather than researching different schools and then making their choice. The opposite of ‘skilled choosers’

Division of Labour

Where production is broken down into a number of  small, specialized tasks to improve efficiency.  For example, instead of one person constructing a whole car, each individual specializes in adding different bits.

Education Action Zones

A New Labour Education policy which promoted links between clusters of schools (typically around 20) in deprived areas and local businesses and parents, with the intention of getting business to provide extra funds to those schools. This policy was introduced in the late 1990s, but after running for five years it had largely failed to generate any additional funds and so was axed.

Educational triage 

Where schools sort students into three groups: those who will pass without help, those could pass with help, and those who probably won’t pass even if they do get help. Schools then focus most of their resources on helping the middle of these groups, while leaving the former alone and effectively ‘writing off’ the later.

Elaborated Speech Code

Language consisting of a wide vocabulary, complex sentences and which is context-free, so able to express abstract ideas. Used by the middle class and the opposite of restricted speech code.

Equality of opportunity (within education)

Where everyone has an equal chance to get into the best schools and universities and achieve good qualifications, and everyone competes for the best results on a level playing field, without being discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, disability or social class.

Ethnocentric Curriculum

Ethnocentric means seeing or judging things in a biased way. An ethnocentric curriculum is one which treats middle class European white culture as superior – having Christian assemblies or teaching history from a European rather than an Indian or African perspective are examples of this.

Ethos

The culture of a school – including its expected norms of behaviour, core values and especially the aspirations for its students.

Exclusions

Where pupils are either suspended for a set period or permanently expelled from school, typically for breaking school rules.

Exogenous Privatisation (of education)

Where schools, or school services, are taken over by private businesses such as academy chains, rather than being run directly by the state.

A related concept here is ‘endogenous privatisation’, where schools are made compete like businesses while still being run by the state. This was the idea behind marketization.

Related concepts: neoliberalism, the new right, marketization.

Faith school

A school with formal ties to a particular faith. Many have different admissions (selection) criteria to regular state schools and select a proportion of their students on the basis of their faith.

Fatalism

According to Bernstein this is an attitude held by working class children and parents. It is the belief that they will inevitably end up in working class jobs, and so prevents them from aspiring to do any better.

Free Schools

Schools set up and run by groups of parents, charities or businesses and run directly by them. They are funded directly by the government and not by Local Education Authorities.

Gender domains

The activities that boys and girls see as typically the territory of their gender. E.g. playing football for boys and playing with dolls for girls.

Globalisation

The increasing interconnectedness of people and societies across the world.

Grammar School

A selective school catering to students who pass their 11+. Offers an academic education catered to high achieving students. Part of the ethos of grammar schools is that students should aspire to go to university.

Hidden Curriculum

The Hidden Curriculum refers to the norms and values not taught directly as part of the official curriculum, but passed on informally in schools.

Whereas the official curriculum is made up of subjects, subject content, formal lessons etc. the hidden curriculum is composed of teacher attitudes and expectations, and the general ethos of school which includes such things as attitudes to punctuality, attendance, dress codes and future career aspirations.

Related concepts: Feminists argue that the hidden curriculum works against girls.  Marxists believe it works against working-class pupils.

Ideal Pupil

The idea of the perfect pupil which teachers have in their heads. Such pupils are smart, have good manners, obey school rules and work hard. According to Howard Becker they are typically middle class.

Ideological state apparatus

This is main function of education in a capitalist society according to Marxists. Education works to transmit an ideological justification of capitalism, presenting the unequal capitalist system as normal and inevitable.

Schools do this directly by ‘agenda setting’ – not teaching subjects which criticise capitalism such as sociology (at least until much later on in life), and they do it indirectly by mirroring the inequality found in wider society (teacher-pupil relations, banding and streaming),  thus getting students used to the idea that inequality is normal.

Related concepts: passive subservience, Marxism, socialisation, hidden curriculum, power, inequality.

Immediate Gratification   

Wanting instant reward, right now. The opposite of deferred gratification

Independent (Private) Schools    

Schools which are not state-funded and are paid for by parents. They do not have to follow the national curriculum, but most choose to do so.

Institutional Racism

Discrimination which is built into the everyday workings of institutions such as schools.

Labelling*

‘Labelling’ is where someone judges a person based on the superficial ‘surface’ characteristics such as their apparent social class, sex, and ethnicity.

In the case of education, the main ‘labeller’ is the teacher, the main ‘labelled’ the pupil. Howard Becker has shown that teachers have an ‘ideal type’ of a pupil. The ‘ideal’ pupil is courteous, hard working and academically able. Middle-class pupils are far more likely to fit this model than are working class students, and thus middle class students get a positive label working class students a negative label.

Related concepts: Interactionism, self-fulfilling prophecy, ideal pupil.

*American misspelling: ‘labeling’

League Tables

Published documents which show the GCSE and A level results of all schools in England and Wales. Schools are effectively ranked against each other and thus are easy to compare.

Legitimation of class inequality

A Marxist term – where schools justify inequality through teaching the myth of meritocracy. Schools teach working class pupils that it is their fault if they fail their exams and end up in working class jobs, rather than the fault of the unequal and unfair system which is biased towards the middle class.

Marketization

Making schools compete for pupils, like businesses compete for clients or consumers.

This was the basic principle behind the 1988 education act: the government introduced open enrollment (parental choice), formula funding and league tables to introduce endogenous privatisation.

Related concepts: New Right, neoliberalism, privatisation, league tables, 1988 education act.

Material deprivation

Where someone cannot afford or lacks access to basic, material resources such as food and heating.

Material deprivation can have a negative effect on educational achievement because students may not have access to computers and the Internet at home and poor diet and housing conditions may lead to health problems which can result in time off school.

Related concepts: social class, cultural deprivation, differential educational achievement.

Meritocracy

The idea that what an individual achieves is based on a combination of their ability and effort.

In education this is where the qualifications one achieves is based on a combination of their intelligence and the amount of effort they put in during their time in school.

Marxists argue that meritocracy is a myth because in reality an individual’s educational achievement is more a reflection of their class background, a result of their material and cultural capital, rather than their ability or effort. However, the working classes believe the myth of meritocracy and thus blame their own failure on themselves rather than the unequal opportunities in the system.

Related concepts: achieved status, ascribed status, Marxism, Functionalism, equality of opportunity.

Motivation by external rewards

Being motivated by the end result, not the act itself. In education this means being motivated by exam results rather than the ‘joy of learning’.

Multicultural education

Any education that raises awareness of the different cultures, traditions and religions in a society, typically aimed at promoting acceptance of (or at least tolerance of diversity).

Myth of meritocracy      

Part of Marxist Theory – the idea that schools are not meritocratic but teach students that they are so as to legitimate inequality (see the legitimation of class inequality).

National Curriculum

Set subjects (and the content within those subjects) laid down by the government that all state funded schools must teach.

OFSTED

The government body which inspects schools and publishes reports, grading schools from ‘outstanding’ to ‘in need of improvement’. Has the power the put schools into special measures and change the management and staffing of failing schools.

Parentocracy

Literally ‘the rule of the parents’. It is where parents have a choice over which school to send their children to.

Parity of Esteem

Where schools teach different subjects and have a different ethos but have equal status.

Particularistic values    

The specific standards by which parents judge their children.

Passive subservience

Accepting authority and doing what you are told without questioning it.

Patriarchal Ideology

Norms and values which make patriarchy seem natural. E.g. the idea that women should be the primary child carers because they give birth to children.

Patriarchy

A system of male domination, or one in which men have advantage over women.

Polarization

Moving further apart. In education, marketisation is said to have caused this: the best schools improved and the worst schools got worse.

Postmodernisation

The changes associated with the move to a postmodern society, including globalization, more consumerism, more individual choice and diversity.

Privatisation (exogenous)  

Where schools, or school services, are taken over by private businesses such as academy chains, rather than being run directly by the state.

Privatisation (endogenous)  

Where schools are made to compete like businesses while still being run by the state. This was the idea behind marketization.

Reproduction of inequality

Where inequality is carried on from one generation to the next.

Restricted Speech Code

Language consisting of limited vocabulary, simple sentences, and which is context specific. According to Bernstein, this is what the working class speak. It is the opposite of the elaborated speech code.

Role allocation

Where pupils are sifted and sorted into appropriate jobs based on their abilities, reflected in the qualifications they achieve.

Society requires the most able to be in the most important and demanding jobs. Education makes sure this happens-  only the most able and hardest working can rise to top and get the three A grades in science required to go on to do a medical degree and become a doctor for example.

Related Concepts: achieved status, Functionalism, division of labour, meritocracy.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

This is where someone acts according to their label and the label becomes true in reality.

In education a pupil who is repeatedly told that they are unlikely to achieve may consequently give up their efforts which in turn will reduce the likelihood of gaining a qualification. The teachers’ label has thus become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Related concepts: interactionism, labelling, deterministic.

Subculture and Counter School Culture

A subculture consists of a group of people who share norms and values which are different to mainstream values.

An important type of subculture is the counter-school culture – identified by Paul Willis (1977). A counter school culture has norms and values which are in direct opposition to the mainstream culture of the school. Thus the lads who made up the counter-school culture valued messing around and ‘having a laugh’ and got status for doing so, and did not value working hard to achieve good grades.

Related concepts: pro-school subculture; myth of meritocracy, white working class underachievement; the young entrepreneurs (Mac An Ghail), active-passive, Marxism.  

Outline and explain two reasons why trade does not always promote development (10)

One reason is that poorer countries tend to export low-value primary products such as agricultural goods, while richer countries export higher value goods.

Frank (1971) argues this is a legacy of colonialism during which rich countries made their colonies specialize in exporting one primary product such as sugar or cotton back to the ‘mother land’. After independence, developing societies were over-dependent on exporting these primary commodities, which typically have a very low market-value.

Examples include The Ivory Coast in West Africa – 33% dependent on cocoa beans; Kenya (in East Africa) which is about 30% dependent on two primary products – tea and cut flowers.

This type of trade does not necessarily promote development because the declining value of such commodities means developing nations need to export more and more every year just to stay in the same place. This has been described as ‘running up the downward escalator’.

____

A second reason why trade doesn’t work for development is that the global capitalist system depends on inequality

Emanuel Wallerstein argued that the world capitalist system is characterised by an international division of labour consisting of a structured set of relations between three types of capitalist zone:

    • The core, or developed countries control world trade and exploit the rest of the world.
    • The semi-peripheral zone includes countries like China or Brazil – which manufacture produces
  • The peripheral countries at the bottom, mainly in Africa, which provide the raw materials such as cash crops to the core and semi periphery.

Companies in the core countries need to keep prices of end-products as low as possible in order keep up demand, so they pay as little as possible for the raw materials and manufacturing. In short, the development of the west in terms of cheap, consumer goods depends on the poverty of the periphery and relative poverty of semi-periphery.

However, this may not always prevent trade working for development – countries can be upwardly or downwardly mobile in the world system. Many countries, such as the BRIC nations have moved up from being peripheral countries to semi-peripheral countries, and some (e.g. South Korea) can now be regarded as core countries.

_____

Thirdly, a lack of regulation at both global and national levels means that workers have few protections in developing countries and thus don’t benefit from trade.

Many workers are exploited with low wages in sweat shops, which means workers don’t earn enough money to pay for social development such as education or health; Bangladesh is a good example of a country in which poor health and safety regulations result in high deaths.

Other Corporations such as Shell extracting oil in Nigeria burn gas flares and have leaky oil pipes which destroys the environment and leads to women miscarrying, which actually pushes the development of some areas backwards.

Dependency Theory argues that Nation States compete in a ‘race to the bottom’ to attract Transnational Corporations (and extract materials/ produce goods to trade) through having the least regulations.

Hints for A Level Sociology Paper 3 (Crime and Deviance)

A few hints for how I recommend answering the Crime and Deviance section of AQA’s paper 3 (which also contains theory and methods, more of that later). NB – What’s below isn’t endorsed by the AQA, but it’s my best interpretation based on what I’ve been told works.

Questions 1 and 2 (4 and 6 mark short answer questions) –‘Outline two ways/ Outline three reasons’

  • Point (1 mark) + Explanation (1 mark)
  • Do this (two times over for question 1, three times over for question 2)
  • Bullet point each point and explanation.

Question 3 – The Outline and Analyse Question (10 marks) – ‘Using material from Item A, outline and Analyse two ways in which…’

  • Read the item – this will give you your two ways (it will effectively limit you to two points)
  • For each of the two points, make two further analytical points to develop that point, and ideally evaluate it.
  • Do this twice.

Question 4 – The essay question (30 marks) Applying material from Item B evaluate something

  • Read the question – if it asks you to do two things, make sure you do both
  • Read the item – at least two of your points should stem from the item
  • Make 3-6 total points depending on the essay – deeper or broader
  • Use the Point –Explain – Expand (analyse) – Evaluate structure
  • If it’s a perspectives essay, evaluate using other perspectives towards the end of the essay as you build up to your conclusion.

 

Analyse two criticisms of the theory that police racism is the main factor which explains the higher imprisonment rates of ethnic minorities

An example of a 10 mark ‘analyse’ question written for the AQA’s crime and deviance paper.

This could form the basis of a 10 mark question in the crime and deviance paper, in which case, you would have an item, which will direct you to two of the reasons mentioned below, which you must use if they are in the itme to get 10/10!

A mark scheme and some suggested answers to the above question*

8-10   

  • Answers in this band will show good knowledge and understanding of relevant material on two reasons.
  • There will be two developed applications of material from the item
  • There will be appropriate analysis/evaluation of two reasons.

To get into this mark band you need to identify one reason, develop it, analyse it (so three good sentences of development/ analysis) and then repeat this for your second reason.

4- 7

  • Answers in this band will show a basic to reasonable knowledge and understanding.
  • There will be some successful application of material from the item.
  • There will be some analysis/evaluation

This means you’ve identified, developed and analysed one reason well, but not effectively developed or analysed the second reason.

1-3     

  • Answers in this band will show limited knowledge of one or two reasons
  • There will be limited application of material from the item.
  • There will be limited or no analysis/evaluation.

You shouldn’t be down here.

Possible Criticisms

These could form the basis of any one of your two points. 

  • Underlying patterns of offending are different…
  • The characteristics of offenders are different….
  • It’s the public that’s racist, the police just respond….
  • Racism is subjective, thus difficult to define
  • Racism is difficult to research in practice.

Example which should get you 5/10

Repeat with one of the other reasons to get 10/10

The first reason why it is doubtful that police racism explains the higher imprisonment rates of ethnic minorities is that there is some evidence that ethnic minorities might commit more crime.

Development  For example, many ethnic minority groups experience higher levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation (applying left realism) which could explain actual underlying higher levels of offending.

Analysis Thus it might be these factors related to class and deprivation which explains the higher levels of policing and stop and search (and corresponding imprisonment) in minority areas rather than police racism. The police are not necessarily racist – they are just responding in an objective, rather than a racist way to really existing high crime rates in poorer areas, where ethnic minorities are more likely to live.

*Answers not endorsed by the AQA. These are my best guesses as to a safe minimum for getting full marks. NB –  You may as well go with my best guess as the exemplars produced by the AQA don’t necessarily reflect the standards they mark to anyway. 

Ethnicity and Crime: Short Answer Exam Questions and Answers

This post contains two examples of possible 4/6 mark ‘outline and explain’ questions which may come up on the AQA’s Crime and Deviance Paper 3.

Outline two structural factors which may explain differences in offending by ethnicity (4)

Two marks for each of two appropriate reasons clearly outlined or one mark for appropriate reasons partially outlined

  • The higher rates of single parent families in African-Caribbean households (1 mark) this might explain the higher levels of crime because absent fathers mean lack of a disciplinary figure and the fact that children from Caribbean households are more likely to join gangs (+1 mark)
  • Blocked opportunities in the education system for African-Caribbean children (1 mark) which means lower educational achievement, and a higher chance of being unemployed, which is correlated with higher levels of economic crime (+1 mark)
  • Institutional racism in the police force (1 mark) higher rates of ethnic minority crime may be a frustrated response against police oppression, as with the London riots (+1 mark)

Outline three ways in which Racism may manifest itself in the criminal justice system (6)

Two marks for each of two appropriate reasons clearly outlined or one mark for appropriate reasons partially outlined. The following would get 1 mark each, you need to add in the +1s

  • The police stop disproportionate amounts of black and Asian people (1 mark)
  • Black suspects are more likely to be sent to jail than white people (1 mark)
  • Ethnic minorities are more likely to have their cases thrown out of court than white people (1 mark)
  • Black and minority officers are under-represented (1 mark)
  • There is a ‘canteen culture’ of Racism in the UK police force (1 mark)
  • The police force fail to take race crimes against ethnic minorities seriously (1 mark)

Related Posts

Analyse two ways in which patterns of crime may vary with social class (10)

Just a few thoughts on how you might answer the above 10 mark question – a possibility for the A Level Sociology Crime and Deviance/ Theory and Methods Paper 3

NB – There is every possibility that the actual 10 marker will be much more convoluted (complex) than this, but then again, there’s also the possibility of getting a simpler question – remember you could get either, and there’s no way of knowing which you’ll get – it all depends on how brightly the examiner’s hatred of teenagers is burning when he (it’s still probably a he!) writes the paper… 

FirstlyUnderclass – New Right – highest levels of crime – unemployment/ single parents = low attachment (Hirschi) also less opportunity to achieve legitimate goals (Merton’s strain theory), also more relative deprivation, marginalisation and subcultures (Young). Results in more property crime (theft) , possibly violent crime because of status frustration (Cohen). Backed up by prison stats – disproportionate number prisoners unemployed etc.

In contrast Middle classes supposedly have lower crime rates because they experience the opposite of all of the above.

However, Interactionists argue this difference is a social construction – Media over-reports underclass subcultures and deviance (Stan Cohen), Police interpret working class deviance as bad, middle class deviance as acceptable (Becker).

Secondly… Elite social classes – Because of greater access have the ability to commit different crimes – Corporate Crime – health and safety negligence (e.g. Bhopal) – Marxists = cost is greater than street crime – more people die annually than from street murders (Tombs and Whyte) – Also white collar financial crimes (e.g. Kweku Adeboli/ Madhoff/ Enron) – Total economic cost greater than street crime (Laureen Snider) – often go unpunished because of selective law enforcement (Gordon) – e.g. Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley paying below the minimum wage – but crimes = technically more difficult to prosecute and the public generally aren’t that worried about them.

In contrast ‘the rest of us’ don’t have the ability to commit high level Corporate Crimes, and so any one crime committed by an ordinary individual is relatively low-impact in comparison, although more likely to be picked up by the media and the authorities.

Finally (relevant to both of the above) – the government doesn’t collect any reliable stats on the relationship between social class and offending so we can’t actually be sure how the patterns vary any way!

And a few bonus thoughts on a related question… 

Outline and analyse two reasons why crime statistics may not provide us with a valid picture of the relationship between social class background and patterns of criminal behaviour (10)

First way into the question = pick two different sets of stats on crime and talk them out…

1. Prisoner statistics suggest that…..

2. The Crime Survey of England and Wales suggests that…

Second way into the question…. More general points (easier, but more danger of repeating yourself)

1. The types of crime committed by elite social class are different to those committed by those from lower social classes…..

2. According to Interactionists, the different labels agents of social control attach to people from different class backgrounds mean the crime stats may lack validity…..

3. There are so many different ways of measuring social class and the government doesn’t collect any systematic data on the relationship between social class and crime….

Controlling and Reducing Crime – The Role of the Community

Most people manage to get through their whole lives without getting on the ‘wrong side’ of the formal agents of social control (the police, the courts and prison), so it should be no surprise hat many of the perspectives emphasize the role that the community plays in preventing crime and controlling crime.

Consensus Theory and Right Realism

Both Consensus Theory and Right Realism emphasise the importance of informal social control at the level of the community in keeping crime rates low. The following theories all emphasise the importance of the community in controlling crime:

  • Hirschi’s ‘Bonds of Attachment’ theory
  • Charles Murray’s Underclass Theory/ NEETS
  • Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Windows theory

Left Realism

According to left realism, crime is highest in those areas which suffer the highest levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation.

  • Relative deprivation refers to the discontent people feel when they compare their positions to those similarly situated and find that they have less than their peers.

  • Marginalisation is where one is ‘pushed to the edge’ of that society – on the outside of normal society looking in, lacking the resources to fully participate in that society.

According to Left Realists, the conditions of relative deprivation and social exclusion ‘breed crime’, most obviously because criminal means (rather than legitimate means) are often the only way people in such areas can ever hope to achieve material success, while you have relatively little to lose if you get caught.

Left Realists argue that the government should focus on tackling marginalisation and relative deprivation and marginalisation through Community Intervention Projects (aka Social outreach projects).

Community intervention projects involve such things as local councils working with members of local communities to provide improved opportunities for young people ‘at risk of offending’ through providing training opportunities or a more active and engaging education for certain children.

Marxism

According to Marxism, the fact that we have whole communities of the underclass is a structural feature of Late-Capitalism because with technological advances, Capitalism requires an ever smaller workforce. Thus we now have millions of permanently unemployed and underemployed people living in Britain.

Just for emphasis – this is the same as Underclass Theory, but from the Marxist Perspective, members of the underclass are victims of Capitalism creating unemployment through technological obsolescence.

Postmodernism/ Late Modernism

Postmodernists argue that the capacity of local communities to control crime informally, even with the help of state-intervention, is limited because communities today have a high turnover of population – communities tend to be unstable, short-lived and fleeting. Moreover, Postmodernists point out that the concept of ‘community’ is irrelevant to many people’s lives today because society is not made up of ‘communities’, it is made up of ‘networks’ Rather than being integrated into tight-knit communities restricted to one place, we have weaker connections to a higher number of people via virtual networks which spread over large distances.

These networks mean that we become susceptible to a whole range of ‘new crimes’ such as cyber-bullying, trolling, phishing, identity theft, which take place in ‘virtual space’ and there is thus nothing local communities can do to control such crimes. Moreover, members of these virtual networks are also relatively powerless to stop criminals operating through virtual networks. In short, in the postmodern, networked society, communities are powerless to control crime.

Related Posts 

Right Realist Criminology – Includes an introduction to Realism and detailed class notes on Right Realism covering rational choice theory, broken windows theory, Charles Murray’s views on the underclass, situational crime prevention and environmental crime prevention (mainly zero tolerance policing)

Left Realist Criminology – class notes covering relative deprivation, marginalisation, subcultures, early intervention, community based solutions to crime and community policing.

Key Concepts for A Level Sociology – Crime and Deviance

A list of definitions of some of the key concepts relevant to the A level sociology crime and deviance module.

Anomie

Where modern social systems encourage excessive individualism – as a consequence there is a general lack of agreement around norms and values – some commentators describe anomie as a state of normlessness.

The context Dependency Deviance –

Whether or not an act is deviant depends on the society in which the act takes place, the historical period, and the actors present. The context dependency of deviance emphasises the fact that the same form of behaviour can be considered deviant in one society, but not deviant in another.

Corporate Crime

Crimes committed by or for corporations or businesses which act to further their interests and have a serious physical or economic impact on employees, consumers and the general public. The drive is usually the desire to increase profits.

Crime

The breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a punishment – depending on the society this might ultimately mean imprisonment or the death penalty.

Crimogenic Capitalism

The Marxist idea that the exploitative capitalist system generates crime. According to Marxists, the self-interested pursuit of profit lies at the heart of the Capitalist system. The means whereby the Capitalist class get rich is by exploiting workers through paying them as little as possible to increase their profits, and they also encourage materialism, to increase demand for the goods they produce. A final way capitalism generates crime is by creating inequality – resulting in a significant number of people at the bottom of society (the underclass) who are effectively unable to consume at a reasonable level.

Dark figure of crime

The amount of unreported, or undiscovered crime. These are the crimes which do not appear in Official Police Statistics.

Deviance

Behaviour that varies from the accepted standard of normal behaviour in society. It implies that an individual is breaking social norms in a negative way.

Dog Eat Dog Society

A phrase associated with Marxist Sociologist David Gordon who said that capitalist societies are ‘dog eat dog societies’ in which each individual company and each individual is encouraged to look out for their own self-interest before the interests of others, before the interests of the community, and before the protection of the environment.

Ideology

A set of cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes that underlie and justify either the status quo or movements to change it. The culture of every social system has an ideology that serves to explain and justify its own existence as a way of life. In Sociology, Marxists use the term the ‘dominant ideology’ to refer to the world-view of the ruling class, which they present to everyone else as normal – their world view passes of inequality and exploitation as normal and natural, thus justifying their existence.

Ideological Functions

The idea that institutions such as schools and the media teach a set of norms and values which work in the interests of the powerful and prevent social change. For example, Marxists say the education system performs ‘ideological functions’ for the Capitalist system and the Bourgeois: they believe that the norms of punctuality and acceptance of authority and hierarchy prepares us for our future exploitation at work, which benefits future employers more than workers.

Labelling (detailed notes)

Labelling is the process of pre-judging/ categorising an individual based on superficial characteristics or stereotypical assumptions. For example when a teacher decides a scruffy looking student is not intelligent.

Moral Entrepreneurs

A moral entrepreneur is an individual, group or formal organization that seeks to influence a group to adopt or maintain a norm. Moral entrepreneurs are those who take the lead in labelling a particular behaviour and spreading or popularizing this label throughout society.

Neutralisation of Opposition

In Marxist theory resistance to capitalism and eventual revolution should come from the working classes once they realise the injustice of the high level of exploitation they face. However, according to Marxist criminologists, the criminal justice system works to get rid of opposition by selectively locking up working class (Rather than middle class) criminals which prevents resistance and revolution. Selective law enforcement does this in three main ways:

  1. By literally incarcerating (‘incapacitating) thousands of people who could potentially be part of a revolutionary movement.
  2. By punishing individuals and making them responsible for their actions, defining these individuals as ‘social failures’ we ignore the failings of the system that lead to the conditions of inequality and poverty that create the conditions which lead to crime.
  3. The imprisonment of many members of the underclass also sweeps out of sight the ‘worst jetsam of Capitalist society’ such that we cannot see it, thus we are less aware of the injustice of inequality in society.

Official Crime Statistics

Official Statistics are numerical information collected by the government and its agencies – the two main types of crime statistics collected by government agencies are Police Recorded Crime, and the Crime Survey of England and Wales. Crime statistics also encompass Prison Statistics, which include information about the numbers and characteristics of prisoners.

Police recorded Crime

All crimes reported to and recorded by the police. Police forces around the country record crime in categories that are outlined in the Home Office counting rules. These include: violence against the person, sexual offences, robber, burglary, theft, handling stolen goods, fraud and forgery, criminal damage, drug offences and ‘other offences’.

Rational Choice Theory 

Believes individuals make rational (logical) decisions about whether or not to commit a crime  the crime rate is affected mainly by three factors –  the available opportunities to commit crime,  the perceived risk of getting caught,  and severity of the punishment the offender believes they will receive if they are caught. According to Rational Choice Theory, the more opportunities to commit crime, the lower the risk of getting caught and the lower the likelihood of punishment, then the higher the crime rate will be.

Relative Deprivation

Lacking sufficient resources to maintain a standard of living or lifestyle which is regarded as normal or average in a given society; or lacking sufficient resources to maintain a living standard which is approved of by society. While it is possible to measure relative deprivation objectively, there is a subjective element to this concept which can make it difficult to measure – an individual can feel relatively deprived even when they are relatively well-off compared to the average, if they have an unrealistic idea about what ‘the average is’. This concept is associated with Left Realism and Jock Young’s Vertigo of Late Modernity especially.

Self-Report Studies

Surveys in which a selected cross section of the population is asked what offences they have committed. A good example of a self-report study is the ‘Youth Lifestyles Survey’ – although the last one was done over a decade ago.

Selective Law Enforcement

Where the police mainly focus on policing working class (and underclass) areas and the justice system mainly focuses on prosecuting working and underclass criminals, while ignoring the crimes of the elite and the middle classes, although both of these classes are just as likely to commit crime as the working classes. A concept associated with Marxist criminologist David Gordon.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Where an individual accepts their label and the the label becomes true in practice.

Social integration

Where people are connected to society through social institutions. The more connections an individual has to social institutions, the more integrated an individual is to society. For example, someone with a job, with a family, and who spends time with others in the community is more integrated than an unemployed single loner.

Social Regulation

reaffirming the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. High levels of social regulation basically mean explicit and clear rules and norms which set out clear social expectations. In Functionalist theory an appropriate amount of social regulation is essential for preventing anomie which leads to high levels of suicide and other forms of deviant and criminal behaviour.

Socially Constructed 

Where something is the product of social processes rather than just being natural. For example, most sociologists agree that crime is socially constructed because people in society decide what crime is law breaking behaviour, and laws are made-up by people and change over time, thus crime varies from society to society. Similarly, we can say that crime statistics are socially constructed because they are the result of a series of social interactions – of people witnessing and reporting crimes and then the police recording them, rather than the stats reflecting the actual real number of crimes in any society.

Society of Saints

A phrase associated with Emile Durkheim which emphasises the inevitability and social necessity of crime. Durkheim argued that even in a ‘society of saints’ populated by perfect individuals deviance would still exist. In such a society there might be no murder or robbery, but there would still be deviance. The general standards of behaviour would be so high that the slightest slip would be regarded as a serious offence. Thus the individual who simply showed bad taste, or was merely impolite, would attract strong disapproval.

Victim Surveys

Ask people whether they have been a victim of crime, typically in the previous 12 months. The most comprehensive victim survey in England and Wales is the ‘Crime Survey of England and Wales’.

Status frustration

A concept developed by Albert Cohen in Delinquent Boys (1956) – he used it to explain working-class male delinquency as being a collective reaction against middle class success – working class boys tried hard in school and failed to gain status, got frustrated, found each other and formed a deviant subculture – status was gained within the subculture by being deviant and going against the rules of the school.

Subculture 

A group which has at least some norms and values which are different to those held in mainstream society, and can thus be regarded as deviant.

The Underclass

A term first coined by American Sociologist Charles Murray (1989) – The underclass’ refers to the long term unemployed who are effectively welfare dependent. They have higher rates of teen pregnancies and single parent households and much higher crime rates. Some statistical analysis suggests that the underclass (approximately 1% of the population) might commit as much as 50% recorded crime in the UK.

White Collar Crime

White-collar crime refers to financially motivated nonviolent crime committed by business and government professionals. Within criminology, it was first defined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation”.

Zero Tolerance Policing 

Involves the police strictly enforcing every facet of law, including paying particular attention to minor activities such as littering, begging, graffiti and other forms of antisocial behaviour. It actually involves giving the police less freedom to use discretion –the police are obliged to hand out strict penalties for criminal activity.

Analyse two ways in which crime has changed in postmodern society (10)

Outline and analyse some of the ways in which crime has changed in postmodern society (10)

An example of how you might go about answering such a question (not an exhaustive answer)

(Before reading this through, you might like to recap the difference between modernity and postmodernity.)

Postmodern society is a society based around consumption and consumerism rather than work – people primarily identify themselves through the goods and services they buy rather than the jobs they do. As a result there is simply more stuff being bought, which means here is more opportunity to commit crime – Robert Reiner has identified a straightforward link between the increasing amount of stuff and the increase of property crime, as witnessed with the crime explosion since the 1950s. The increase in property crime has been further fuelled by an increase in the type of ‘strain’ identified in the 1940s by Robert Merton- The mass media today is rife with programmes promoting high consumption, celebrity lifestyles as both normal and desirable, thus increasing demand for stuff, which combined with insufficient legitimate opportunities to earn enough money to buy such a lifestyle, creates what Jock Young calls a ‘Vertigo of Late Modernity’, fuelling a historically high level of property crime.

Baudrillard calls postmodern society a hyperreal society – mediated reality (basically life as experienced through the media) is more common and more ‘real’ than face to face reality – it is thus no surprise that the fastest growing type of crime is cyber-crime of many different varieties – where criminals do not come face to face with their victims – this at least partially explains one growth area of cyber crime – which is sexual and racist abuse and ‘trolling’ more generally via social-media – many such criminals would not dare say the things they do face to face. Another example of cyber crime is the online-dating romance scam, which illustrates all sorts of aspects of ‘postmodern’ crime – it is hyperreal, in that the criminals make up fake IDs to put on dating sites to lure victims into giving them money, and many of these scams are done by people in West Africa, illustrating the global nature of much postmodern crime, this particular example being at least partially fuelled by the wealth gap between the developing and the developing world. In short, the fact that we are connected via the internet globally, the relative ease of access to the internet, and the relatively low risk of getting caught, all help to explain the increase of cyber crime in the age of postmodernity.

Related Posts

Post and Late Modern Criminologysummary sheet

Assess the Contribution of Post and Late Modern Perspectives to Our Understanding of Crime and Devianceessay plan