Nowadays, there is a variety of sources providing information about deviance and crime. I usually get information about these issues from TV programs, specialized YouTube channels, publications in social media, and websites. Deviance describes any conduct, trait, or belief that breaches social norms in a certain society or group. Deviance is relative and could vary from place to place and group to group (Benokraitis, 2018, p. 120). Due to my values, I prefer to treat people according to their behavior, actions, and beliefs and call them “deviant” only if they get in the way of other individuals’ well-being. Still, I would not excuse dangerous and violent actions or destructive beliefs aimed at somebody’s oppression.
Sociologists and criminologists created various theories providing a different lens to analyzing crimes’ roots. I suppose that we should not stick to a sole view and embrace all assumptions. Functionalists say that crimes originate from fast social changes, while opportunity theory emphasizes the importance of access to illegitimate opportunity structures. Conflict theories point out that elites or capitalists have the power to define what is illegal, and crime could be the response to discrimination and exploitation. Symbolic interactionists’ approach states that dangerous behavior could be learned from significant individuals, be a rational choice, stem from weakened social bonds or labeling (Benokraitis, 2018, p. 126-133; Kendall, 2016, p. 167-175). I think that crimes could be committed due to a range of reasons. Therefore, every crime should be analyzed from various perspectives.
I think that misdemeanors happen more often than felonies. According to data, the most frequent types of crimes include property crimes, driving under the influence of alcohol, larceny, and minor types of offenses (Benokraitis, 2018, p. 122; Kendall, 2016, p. 185). Many people could commit minor crimes, such as traffic violations, but never engage in serious ones. People of different backgrounds could commit crimes for a range of reasons. For example, white collars could commit corporate crimes for money while a juvenile could steal something for fun or under the pressure of peers. According to statistics, males are arrested for considerably more crimes than females, and arrest rates are highest for low-income people (Kendall, 2016, p. 185-187). As for victims, I used to think that women and children make up the majority. However, victimization studies show that the rate of total violent victimization is higher among males and people aged 12-17 (Benokraitis, 2018, p. 122; Kendall, 2016, p. 187-188). I often hear that victims show signs of “victim behavior,” which is the reason for their suffering. I believe that theory is erratic and unfair.
Sometimes I feel a fear of a crime, especially in times when I walk the dark streets. I calm myself down by saying that we have a good justice system. In our society, justice is handled by agencies of social control. The criminal justice system controls crime and punishes the convicted. It performs its duty with the help of the police, correctional facilities, police agencies, courts, prosecutorial agencies, and probation and parole departments (Benokraitis, 2018, p. 134; Kendall, 2016, p. 188). In addition to official punishment, society has various mechanisms of social control. Rule breakers or people who are suspected of unlawful actions could be subjected to public cancellation. Some people support only fines and probation because they believe that punishment of offenders could encourage crimes. I think that it is true for young people and could reduce recidivism rates. However, in the most outrageous cases, it is better to restrict criminals from society. Still, I am against the application of capital punishment. Innocent people mistakenly convicted of a crime should have the opportunity for rehabilitation.
By the end of that work, I noticed that my perception of reasons and circumstances leading to the commitment of crimes changed considerably. Earlier, I thought that people who commit crimes should be inclined to do it because of specific mental features and lack of necessary upbringing. Now, I understand that various factors could lead to criminal behavior, and we have powerful theories to explain the nature of crime and create measures for prevention.
Benokraitis, N. V. (2018). SOC: Introduction to sociology (6th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Kendall, D. (2016). Sociology in our times (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.