Last Updated 26 Mar 2020

Social Construction of Crime

Essay type Research
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Social Construction of Crime The obvious definition of crime is the legal definition of an act which breaks the law. It is a social construction as it varies across culture, time and law. Crime is defined by a society's own rules, norms and beliefs at any given time in history. Hazel Croall emphasizes pathological way and social construction of crime in the book. An analysis of reasons of crime reveals the fact that crime is a functional part of a society, constructed by society in political, economical and cultural aspects and affects the society as a loop back.

Crime is created by the government by choosing to outlaw something. Government creates what crime is or not. For instance all non-violent drug offenses are crimes that would not be considered crimes if the government hadn't made drugs illegal. That is one form of how government constructs crime. Another is that it constructs crime for its own interests. Money tracking laws and tax evasion are in this category. In fact the best way to make money is to get the government to force people to give it to you.

Such as in America the drugs of the rich and middle class are either legal, or not strongly enforced. Generally celebrities who use cocaine do not do serious jail time but the drugs of the poor and minorities are illegal because they cannot afford to pay commissions. Consequently as lawmakers consider crime as a creation of the citizens, in fact crime is a creation of lawmakers who decided to limit civil freedoms by their own moral standards. However crime could change across cultures and times. For example, polygamy is illegal in Turkey but acceptable in many African cultures.

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Cannabis tincture was permissible as a painkiller in Victorian times but today possession of cannabis is illegal in UK. Crime is present in every society through the history. Therefore Durkheim argues that it could be assumed to be normal and its function determined (14). Crime unifies the community, as it clarifies and strengthens moral sentiments, the collective conscience and the rules. On the other hand, Downes and Rock object this idea, claiming that crime may isolate people by making them stay in at night, lock their doors and avoid talking to strangers (15). But these are valid for too much crime.

Excessive crime leads people to disintegration, while too little crime is the product of too strong social control. Hence crime rates must not be excessively high or excessively low in order to crime could be functional. According to Durkheim, the cohesion and solidarity of pre-industrial societies broke up with the growth of industry (16). People started to have fewer moral standards or constraints to guide them. People’s expectations increased with the economic growth. Materialism and wealth became universal goals. And he called anomie as the search for attainable goals.

Anomie reflects in society as many ways such as conformists, innovators, retreatists. Frustration and hopelessness as a result of boundless aspirations direct people to crime as another chance to achieve their goals. That is the inevitable social construction of crime that arises with industrialization Furthermore crime can be related to economic conditions. Firstly unemployment is one of the important reasons to increase crime. Crow, consider increases in unemployment as a threat to law and order (34). With globalization, many traditional crafts and skills became redundant.

Therefore unskilled workers could not find long-term jobs and opportunities for career progression. As Taylor says, economic cycles of growth and recession produce changes in employment and consumption (34). Unemployment is popularly linked to crime. But the employed people also commit crime and all the unemployed people are not criminals. Such as the retired, the idle rich or the redundant executive could commit crime. Because worklessness means having more time and opportunity to commit crime. Secondly another economic reason of crime is the market policies.

Currie argue that market society promotes crime by increasing inequality and concentrated economic deprivation, weakening capacity of local communities, stressing and fragmenting the family and withdrawing public provision of basic services (40). These policies affect not only lower class but all kinds of crime. “The encouragement of individualism and the aggressive pursuit of profits can be associated with law breaking among managers and executives and with an increase in financial frauds. Economic and industrial changes have also affected organized crime which can become an alternative labour market” (Croall, 41).

To sum up, economic reasons take a large part in social construction of crime. Most importantly, crime arises in certain places in which there is the blatant segregation of the rich and poor. Mostly people tend to live in the same areas with other people who earn the same amount of money. In low income areas, people see crime as a way to make a few extra dollars. Therefore poor people commit crime more than other people and that forms the ‘underclass’ notion. But it is government responsibility for the economic and social policies which produce these conditions.

Government is supposed to do necessary regulations to protect poor people to commit crime. Taking into account all these factors mentioned above, we can safely arrive at the conclusion that crime is inevitable reality of humanity. Although there are a few exceptions, crime do not occur due to a criminal disease or a criminal gene. It’s constructed in society rather than individually. Society creates crime, then crime affects society. In conclusion crime is what a society chooses it to be, and the crime rate is what the society chooses it to be.

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Social Construction of Crime. (2018, Jan 01). Retrieved from

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