Criminal Justice, Ethnicity and Racism

Both Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall argue that crime statistics are socially constructed and these statistics do not reflect underlying differences in crime rates. They argue instead that the variations in stop and search and imprisonment rates by ethnicity are mostly explained by differences in stop and search rates of ethnic groups which means a higher proportion of black and Asian criminals are caught and prosecuted compared to white criminals

Look at the statistical evidence below, to what extent does the evidence support Gilroy’s and Hall’s views?

Self-report studies

Self-report studies ask people to disclose details of crimes they committed but not necessarily been caught doing or convicted of. Graham and Bowling (1995) Found that blacks (43%) and whites (44%) had similar and almost identical rates of crime, but Asians actually had lower rates (Indians- 30%, Pakistanis-28% and Bangladeshi-13%).

Sharp and Budd (2005) noted that the 2003 offending, crime and justice survey of 12,000 people found that whites and mixed ethnicity were more likely to say they had committed a crime, followed by blacks (28%) and Asians (21%).

Victim surveys

The British Crime Survey indicated that 44 per cent of victims were able to say something about the offender who was involved in offences against them. Among these, 85 per cent of offenders were said by victims to be ‘white’, 5 per cent ‘black’, 3 per cent ‘Asian’ and 4 per cent ‘mixed’. However, these stats are only for the minority of ‘contact’ offences and very few people have any idea who was involved in the most common offences such as vehicle crime and burglary. Therefore, in the vast majority of offences no reliable information is available from victims about the ethnicity of the criminal.

Prosecution and trial

The Crown Prosecution service (CPS) is responsible for deciding whether a crime or arrest should be prosecuted in court. They base it on whether there is any real chance of the prosecution succeeding and whether it is better for the public that they are prosecuted.

Ethnic minority cases are more likely to be dropped than whites, and blacks and Asians are less likely to be found guilty than whites. Bowling and Phillips (2002) argue that this is because there is never enough evidence to prosecute as it is mainly based on racist stereotyping. In 2006/7 60% of whites were found guilty, against only 52% of blacks, and 44% of Asians.

When cases go ahead members of ethnic minorities are more likely to elect for Crown Court trail rather than magistrates (even through Crown Courts can hand out more severe punishments), potentially because of a mistrust of magistrates.

Sentencing and prison

Jail sentences are more likely to be given to Blacks (68%) compared to Whites (55%) or Asians (59%), whereas Whites and Asians were more likely to receive community services. But this could be due to the seriousness of some ones offence of previous convictions.

Hood (1992) found that even when the seriousness of an offence and previous convictions were taken into account Black men were 5x more likely to be jailed and given a sentence which is 3 months (Asians 9 months) longer than whites.

An Introduction to AS and A Level Sociology

Good Resources to explore further

Subcultural Theories of Deviance – Useful Resources

Useful Sources for learning about Subcultural Theory

In addition to your text book and main in-class hand-out, the following resources are especially useful:

 

Research studies and case studies to evaluate the relevance of Subcultural Theories of Deviance

To my mind – it’s worth focussing on two things to evaluate subcultural theories (I) are subcultures really set apart from the rest of society like subcultural theorists suggest and (II) does membership of subcultures encourage deviance as much as the above theories suggest?

  1. This Official Report by the Home Office suggests there are 4500 gang members in London.
  2. GangsLine argues that there are 15 000 gang members in London and 35 000 across the UK.
  3. There has also been a recent 23% increase in gang related crime in London – suggesting support for the continued relevance of Subcultural Theory.
  4. There are numerous documentaries which suggests gangs globally form distinct subcultures which encourage deviance.
  5. However, back to the UK – This (2016) in-depth ethnographic research in Glasgow suggests that gangs are more fluid and not as violent as you might think (it also criticises David Cameron’s view that the London Riots were mainly caused by gangs.)
  6. This (2015) documentary on Football Hooliganism shows that most hooligans have full-time jobs, and so this isn’t a subculture because it’s embedded in mainstream society.
  7. Documentaries such as Benefits Street suggest that there is a distinct underclass which is more criminal than mainstream society, but…
  8. This research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests the Underclass doesn’t actually exist!

Functionalism and Strain Theory – Useful Resources

In addition to your text book and main in-class hand-out, the following resources are especially useful for enhancing your knowledge and understanding of Functionalism and Strain Theory, and for evaluating these theories of crime and deviance. 

Easy research studies and case studies to evaluate the relevance of Functionalism and Strain Theory

Read through/ watch the articles and case studies below – consider the extent to which they either support or criticise the above theories.

  1. September 11th brought us together – but was it unity? – Seems to support Functionalism
  2. London Riots – Hundreds answer the appeal to clean up the streets – Seems to support Functionalism
  3. Stoned Moms – A Vice documentary about the legalisation of Cannabis in Colorado – You could use to criticise Durkheim’s idea that ‘deviance is the morality of the future’ – is this really positive? (of course you might think it is!)
  4. The idea of the American Dream has changed greatly (Young Turks Video) – Criticises Merton’s Strain Theory

How to evaluate the above theories (thoroughly!)

The above examples are just the ones KT thinks are especially applicable to Functionalism and Strain Theory, to further evaluate these theories you need to consider the following:

  1. Supporting Evidence: Crimes this theory can explain – Is there any statistical evidence or case study* evidence which supports this theory?
  2. Criticising evidence: Crimes this theory cannot explain – Is there any statistical evidence or case study evidence which criticises this theory?
  3. Evaluate using other perspectives – What does the theory under investigation ignore according to….
  • Consensus theories
  • Marxism
  • Feminism
  • Interactionism
  • Postmodernism
  • Realist Criminology
  1. Historical evaluation – Has society changed so much that the theory is just no longer relevant?
  2. Evaluate in terms of ideology/ power – Is the theory biased, does it serve the powerful?

Types of crime and evidence you could apply to each perspective when evaluating!

Types of Crime to consider

  • Serious Violent Crime, Terrorism, Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Burglary, Theft, Fraud, Drug possession
  • Hidden crimes: DV, elite crimes
  • Global crimes: cybercrime/ state crime/ green crime
Evidence to consider

  • Official Stats: Police Recorded Crime / CSEW
  • Specific sociological research studies – e.g. Venkatesh.
  • Any case studies

For example, if you apply hidden crimes like Domestic Violence and Fraud to Functionalism, their existence criticises this theory – if people aren’t being punished for these crimes (which they generally aren’t) then they can’t be performing positive functions!

Evaluating Sociological Perspectives on Crime and Deviance

A template I use to get students to evaluate the various perspectives on crime and deviance – it should work well for consensus theories such as Functionalism and Conflict Theories such as Marxism, but might be more difficult to complete for later postmodern theories… 

Types of Crime to consider

  • Serious Violent Crime, Terrorism, Anti-Social Behaviour

  • Burglary, Theft, Fraud, Drug possession

  • Hidden crimes: DV, elite crimes

  • Global crimes: cybercrime/ state crime/ green crime

Evidence to consider

  • Official Stats: Police Recorded Crime / CSEW

  • Specific sociological research studies – e.g. Venkatesh.

  • Any case studies

1

Supporting Evidence: Crimes this theory can explain

Is there any statistical evidence or case study* evidence which supports this theory?

2

Criticising evidence: Crimes this theory cannot explain

Is there any statistical evidence or case study evidence which criticises this theory?

3

Evaluate using other perspectives

What does the theory under investigation ignore?

  • Consensus theories

  • Marxism

  • Feminism

  • Interactionism

  • Postmodernism

  • Realist Criminology

4

Historical evaluation

Has society changed so much that the theory is just no longer relevant?

5

Evaluate in terms of ideology/ power

Is the theory biased, does it serve the powerful?

Out of 10 – How Useful is ___________________ Theory in helping us understand crime and deviance in contemporary society?

Education and Ethnicity – Knowledge Check List

Knowledge checklist

Key concepts – You need to be able to define the following key concepts, explain how they are related to class and educational achievement, and asses their relative importance in explaining ethnic differences in educational achievement

  • Social class

  • Cultural deprivation

  • Material deprivation

  • Linguistic deprivation

  • The ethnocentric curriculum

  • Institutional racism

  • The A-C economy

  • Pupil subcultures

  • Labeling

  • The self fulfilling prophecy

Key research studies

  • Steve Strand – the Longitudinal study

  • Crozier – some Asian parents keep their distance

  • David Gilborn – teacher labelling

  • Cecile Wright – teacher labelling

  • Mac An Ghail – pupil subcultures

  • Tony Sewell – pupil subcultures

  • Gilborn and Youdell – the A-C economy

Sample short answer questions

  • Suggest three home based cultural factors which may account for why Chinese and Indian children outperform other ethnic groups (6)

  • Suggest three ways in which the school curriculum may be said to be ethnocentric (6)

  • Suggest two criticisms of labeling theory (4)

Sample essay questions

  • Briefly examine the relationship between cultural factors and ethnic differences in educational achievement (12)

  • Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the claim that ‘ethnic difference in educational achievement are primarily the result of in-school factors’ (20)

Gender and Education – Knowledge Check List

Main Sub Topics
·         Gender and Differential Educational Achievement.

·         Why are girls outperforming boys?

·         Why are boys ‘underachieving’ compared to girls?

·         Gender and Subject Choice

·         Why do girls and boys choose different subjects?

·         The extent to which processes within school reinforce traditional masculine and feminine ‘gender identities’

Selected Concepts you Need to Know  

  • Feminism
  • The gender gap
  • Service sector
  • Primary socialisation
  • Crisis of masculinity
  • Feminisation of education
  • Gendered subject domains
  • Male gaze
  • Gender stereotyping
  • Ladette culture
  • Anti-school subculture
  • Pro school subculture
  • Verbal abuse
  • Gender identity

Selected Short Answer Questions

  • Define the term ‘crisis of masculinity’ (2)
  • Using one example explain how traditional gender-identities might be reinforced within education (2)
  • Outline three in-school factors which might influence the subjects which girls and boys choose (6)
  • Outline and briefly explain how two external factors have resulted in girls outperforming boys’ in education (10)
Possible (QUITE NASTY) Essay Questions
Assess the argument that the feminisation of education is main reason for male underachievement in education (20)

Assess the view that the gender gap in education has been over exaggerated (20)

 

Social Class and Educational Achievement – Knowledge Check List

Main Sub-Topics

  • Intro – How achievement varies by social class background
  • Material deprivation and educational achievement.
  • Cultural deprivation theory and educational achievement
  • Cultural capital theory and educational achievement
  • In school processes and how these effect achievement
  • How education policies affect educational achievement by social class

Selected Key Concepts

  • Social Class
  • Educational Attainment
  • Cultural Deprivation
  • Immediate Gratification
  • Deferred Gratification
  • Elaborated Speech Code
  • Restricted Speech Code
  • Fatalistic
  • NEETs
  • Material Deprivation
  • Social Capital
  • Material Capital
  • The Ideal Pupil
  • Counter School Culture
  • Streaming
  • Compensatory Education

Selected Short Answer Questions

  • Define what is meant by the term ‘material deprivation’ (2)
  • Using one example explain how cultural deprivation effects educational achievement (2)
  • Outline three ways in which material deprivation can affect educational achievement (6)
  • Outline and briefly explain two ways in which cultural capital can give an advantage to some pupils in education (10)

Selected Essay Questions

  • Assess the argument that cultural factors are more important that material factors when explaining social class and achievement. (20)
  • Assess the view that home factors are more important than in-school factors when explaining differential achievement by social class (20)

Education Policies – Knowledge Check-List

The Main ‘Waves’ of Education Policies

  • 1944 – The Tripartite System
  • 1965 – Comprehensivisation
  • 1988 – The 1988 Education Reform Act
  • 1997 – New Labour’s Education Policies
  • 2010 – The Coalition and the New New Right’s Education Policies

Possible Issues Questions Might Focus On 

  • To what extent have policies raised standards in education?
  • To what extent have policies improved equality of opportunity?
  • Perspectives on selection as an educational policy
  • Perspectives on the increased privatisation of education
  • How is globalisation affecting educational and educational policy?
Some Concepts and specific policies you need know about
In the context of education, briefly explain what is meant by….

·         The Tripartite system

·         Comprehensivisation

·         Marketisation

·         Parentocracy

·         The New Right

·         League Tables

·         The National Curriculum

·         Selection by mortgage

·         Teaching to the test

·         Polarisation

·         Sink schools

·         The school-parent alliance

·         Disconnected choosers and skilled choosers

·         Cultural and social capital

·         Academies

·         Free Schools

·         Sure Start

·         Education Maintenance Allowance

·         Vocationalism

·         Modern Apprenticeships

·         Compensatory education

·         Faith schools

·         Free schools

Possible Outline and Essay Questions

  • Outline two ways in which educational policies since 1988 have aimed to create a market in education (10)
  • Outline two consequences of the increased privatisation of education (10)
  • Assess the view that educational policies since 1988 have failed to improve equality of

Perspectives on the Role of Education – Knowledge Check- List

What you need to know for the perspectives on education topic for the AQA’s A-level sociology

This is normally the first topic taught as part of the sociology of education module within A-level sociology.

Main Sub Topics

  • The Functionalist Perspective
  • The Marxist Perspective
  • The Neoliberal and New Right Perspective
  • The Post-Modernist Perspective
  • The Impact of Globalisation on Education
  • The relationship between education, the economy and work

Key concepts 

You need to be able to define the following key concepts, explain how they are related to class and educational achievement, and asses their relative importance in explaining ethnic differences in educational achievement

  • Ideological state apparatus
  • Repressive state apparatus
  • Ideological tool
  • Dominant ideology
  • Correspondence theory
  • The hidden/informal curriculum
  • Marketisation
  • Parentocracy
  • Voucher System
  • Value consensus
  • Role allocation
  • Particularistic
  • Universalistic
  • Specialist skills
  • Social solidarity
  • Meritocracy
  • National identity

Selected Short Answer Questions

  • Outline the role of education according to Marxists.
  • Identify and briefly explain how education transmits the dominant ideology according to Marxists.
  • Outline how education benefits males according to feminists.
  • Outline the main functions of education according to functionalists.
  • Identify and briefly explain two ways in which the New Right are similar to functionalists
  • Outline two ways in which the education system has changed in response to globalisation

Possible Essay Questions

Assess the Marxist Perspective on the Role of Education in Society (20)

Assess the point of view that education creates inequality in society. (20)

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