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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘crime & deviance’

Social Change

Updated: 17 May 2017 Social change means some aspect of society, culture or sub-culture changes. The changes may be overt and dramatic and obvious to everyone or they may be more discreet and less obvious…until people come to a realisation society around them has already changed. An example of this is the attitude of the general public in the UK towards welfare and benefits. As Elizabeth Clery shows in the results of the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey – see graphic above – there is an increased perception that people on welfare are over-reliant on their benefits and that cutting benefits won’t harm too many people too badly. The following 2 years’ surveys  showed only the most marginal reversal (3%) of this trend (Sarah Alcock, 2015) and the election in 2015  of a Tory government determined to cut even more could be seen as voter approval of these strategies. This is actually a major attitudinal shift in a country that, for many years, had largely prided itself on a generous attitude to welfare. Yet these more subtle changes in public perception often only become news when surveys like the British Social Attitudes annual survey pick them up. Of course, sometimes a slow growth in… Read More

Suicide?

Updated: 20 July 2013 Early in 2013 The Guardian’s James Meikle, based upon data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reported that 6,045 suicides were recorded in the UK among people aged 15 and over during 2011. This figure represented a significant rise that, unfortunately, was part of an upward trend. (In 2001, Kevin Brewer noted that suicides in the UK were about 4,000 per year.) The suicide rate was 11.8 deaths per 100,000 people, the highest since 2004. In England, the suicide rate was 10.4 deaths per 100,000; highest in the north-east, at 12.9, and lowest in London, at 8.9. In Wales, the suicide rate was 13.9, up from 10.7 in 2009. Meikle acknowledged that suicide rates were slightly lower in Northern Ireland  – ie: 289 suicides in 2011, down from 313 in 2010 – and Scotland, though clearly still concerning. The ONS figures reveal an effect of age and gender:- The male suicide rate in 2011 was the highest since 2002, and among 45-59-year-old men the highest since 1986. For men, the suicide rate was 18.2 per 100,000 population. The rate was highest among males aged 30-44, at 23.5 per 100,000. Among 45-59-year-old men the figure was 22.2… Read More

Biological Factors in Crime

Updated: 7 December 2016 Are criminals born or ‘made’? This is a question which has vexed philosophers for millennia and psychologists and sociologists since the dawn of the behavioural sciences early in the 19th Century. The deterministic view offered by biological explanations for criminality – ie: you have no real choice, it’s in your biological make-up – have major implications for how society treats criminals – especially violent ones.  Biological theories assert criminal behaviour has a physiological origin, with the implication that the ‘criminal’, therefore, has difficulty not committing crime because it is ‘natural’ –  ie: the ‘born criminal’ concept. Biological determinism can be used to undermine the legal concept of criminal responsibility: criminals are held to be personally and morally accountable for their actions. Only when the Law of Diminished Responsibility is applied in cases of self-defence and mental illness – and in some countries (eg: France) ‘crimes of passion’ (temporary insanity) – is the defendant assumed not to have acted from their own free will. 3 cases illustrate how biological arguments have been used as mitigating factors to reduce the level of criminal responsibility:- In 1994 Stephen Mobley was sentenced to death for shooting dead the manager of an American branch of Domino’s Pizza. He was also found… Read More

Crime & Deviance – the Difference

14 January 2012 Crime can be defined as the form of deviance that involves an infraction of the criminal law and is subject to official punishment. Not all laws are criminal – civil law and constitutional law are 2 other key areas of the law. Not all illegal acts are necessarily deviant – eg: in the UK it is illegal to use your mobile phone (without it being handsfree) while driving but the sheer number of people who do so suggests that they do not see that behaviour as deviant. Sociologists have suggested 2 distinct definitions of deviance: normative and relativistic. Deviance: the Normative Definition This definition can be summed up as ‘the violation of social norms’. Thus, deviance is culturally determined. Deviance is often thought of in terms of deviation from accepted social standards – eg: certain kinds of sexual behaviour or drug use. However, people who are mentally ill are often treated as deviants. (See What is Mental Illness? ) Even harmless eccentrics may be considered deviant – or, according to Erich Goode (2008), people who have been heavily tattooed or pierced. In some cultures, deviation from a strict political and/or religious orthodoxy is considered deviant and may invoke penalties under… Read More

Symbolic Interactionism

Updated:  19 May 2017 Symbolic Interactionism is an Interactionist approach in Sociology – although it also has a strong influence in Social Psychology, particularly in the use of phenomenonology to exolore the unique experience of the individual. It contrasts with approaches like Marxism and Functionalism which seem to suggest that people are like puppets controlled by the relations of  production or the pattern variables,  Rather than people slotting into their respective slots in the structure of society, Interactionism sees ‘society’ as being created by people actively working at relationships and thus morphing and changing as the dynamics of those relationships morph and change. Symbolic Interactionism is about creating and responding to symbols and ideas (memes). It is this dynamic that forms the basis of Interactionists’ studies. Sociological areas that have been particularly influenced by Symbolic Interactionism include the sociology of emotions, the sociology of health and illness, deviance and crime, collective behaviour/social movements, and the sociology of sex. Interactionist concepts that have gained widespread usage include definition of the situation, emotion work, impression management, looking glass self and total institution. Symbolic Interactionism derived initially from the writings of George Herbert Mead (1934). He argued that people’s selves are social products –… Read More

Functionalism

Updated: 18 May 2017 Functionalism is a Structuralist theory – hence it is sometimes known as Structural Functionalism. It is a ‘top-down’ theory that focuses on society rather than the individuals within it. As such, it is a powerful concept for exploring the Lower Right in 4Q/8L and how it influences and is influenced by the Lower Left – structuration, in Anthony Giddens’ (1984) terms. In Functionalism society is the focus because the individual is produced by society – ‘social products’, as George Herbert Mead (1913) termed them. People are the product of all the social influences on them: their family, friends, educational and religious background, their experiences at work, in leisure, and their exposure to the media. All of these influences make them who and what they are and how they perceive themselves: the confluence of schemas in their selfplexes. In this view, people are born into society, play their role in it – like cogs on a wheel – and then die. However, the deaths of individuals do not mean the end of society. Society continues long after they are gone. According to Émile Durkheim (1893), beliefs and moral codes are passed on (memetically) from one generation to the next.… Read More

Society & Community

These pages use the models and theories of the Integrated SocioPsychology approach and the behavioural sciences in general for analysing and understanding how we interact and function in societies and communities. They look at those social forces which influence our behaviour, taking into account cultural and cross-cultural factors. More immediately-topical observations can be found in the Blog. There are both miscellaneous features and sections on topics which I believe to be particularly relevant to the functioning of a society…such as education and crime & deviance. Critically important is the section on MeshWORKS – the concept developed by Don Beck which facilitates both a longitudinal and a cross-sectional view of related issues for all relevant parties. Those who support the Integrated approach and are interested in such matters are invited to submit pieces for publication here as ‘guest features’ or ‘guest reports’. Please get in touch with your ideas via the Contact page. Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism Feature exploring the concept that the rise of the Underclass is the inevitable waste product of unfettered Capitalism Islamification: Europe’s Challenge Feature exploring what Islamification might mean for Europe and how the changes it will bring might best be handled Social Change Pages on social change… Read More

Leave Gerry Adams alone!

The 4-day arrest and interrogation of Gerry Adams (30 April-3 May) in connection with the murder of Jean McConville in 1972 has raised 2 fundamental questions not only for Northern Ireland but all similar conflicts… How do we deal with the crimes of former terrorists who have gone on to become leading statesmen? How do the victims and the aggrieved in such conflicts get justice – and, if justice can be obtained, should it be at the expense of peace? The world’s most famous ex-terrorist-turned-statesman was, of course, Nelson Mandela. With the background guidance of advisers like Don Beck – see: Don Beck & South Africa – Mandela went from being a convicted terrorist still committed to the ‘armed struggle’ to one of the greatest mediators of peace and reconciliation our world has ever known. Not only was he jailed for sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government in 1964 but he continued to plot violence whilst in prison – by his own admission (1995) ‘signing off’ on the murderous Church Street bombing of 1983. Yet, in spite of the publicly-acknowledged ‘crimes’, he became a symbol of peace, unity and hope not only for millions of South Africans – black, white… Read More

Meanings in the Blood and Turmoil of Egypt

BBC journalist Tim Whewell has posted a brilliant and provocative analysis of the current crisis in Egypt entitled: Egypt Crisis: does Political Islam have a Future? In it Whewell characterises the conflicts which have erupted in Egypt as first the demand for the removal of Mohammed Morsi a month or so back by secularists and since then the demand for his reinstatement by Islamists. The desperate determination of the Egyptian secularists is summed up in Whewell’s piece by the Royal United Services Institute’s Shashank Joshi: “What we’re seeing is a coalition of liberal, secular, youth, revolutionary groups…who have decided that what they value is secularism at all cost, even if the cost is the shredding of every other liberal value that they hold.” While the brutality of the military in repressing the Cairo Islamists is shocking and has drawn condemnation from right around the world, there is ambivalence towards it from many Egyptian secularists. There is real distrust of the Islamists; and the fear meme has spread virally, as Whewell indicates when he says: “President Morsi was removed as much through fear of what he might do in the future as anger over what he had done already.” The Egyptian crisis… Read More