Critical Book Review Law Coursework Research Paper (Coursework Sample)
This module is a compulsory second year component for all criminology
students and it is available as an option to other second and third year
sociology students and as an outside option if space allows.
Sociology of Crime and Control offers students an opportunity to explore the
theoretical debates that have developed within the field of criminology and
consider their significance within contemporary social concerns about crime
and deviance. The module examines key theories and trends in criminological
thought, including the historical development of criminology and some of the
more recent critiques. The themes of causation, criminalisation, correction and
control run throughout the theoretical perspectives and are considered
alongside some specific examples of criminal activity and organisation. Such
examples range from the individually-experienced through the structural
inequalities relevant to understanding gender, ethnicity and crime, and global
dimensions of crime and control.
Aims and Objectives
Overall, this module aims to help you to:
develop a broad historical sense of how ideas about criminology, social
control, crime, and criminal justice agencies, have shifted over time from
the 18th century onwards, and with a focus on the ‘Western world’,
grasp some of the key ways of thinking about crime through an analysis of
various discourses and narratives that have developed as explanations,
link these discourses to the several key sociological and criminological
areas of theoretical development,
become aware of some of the key contemporary debates and theoretical
perspectives surrounding the politics and images of crime and control,
understand the social processes involved in making sense of social
phenomena such as crime, social problems and deviance, and in the
construction of knowledge about crime and criminality.
By the end of the module, you should be able to:
understand key social ways of thinking critically about crime, deviance and
demonstrate a good understanding of some of the major criminological
scrutinise broader criminological ‘texts’ (such as film, TV, press, internet)
and make sense of them through the theories discussed,
be a confident and critical user of academic research tools such as
specialist journals, the internet and secondary data.
Critical Book Review
The two books under scrutiny in this scenario are Outsiders by Howard Becker and Deviance, Risk, and the Holiday by Daniel Briggs. Both of these books cover the topic of deviance and risky behavior, and especially so among the youth. Becker defines “outsiders” as individuals who break specific rules that have been agreed by a particular group, and this is deviant behavior. This particular reading focuses on deviant behaviors and the concept of groups, or the impact of groups on human behaviors. This particular reading lays a focus on how the police and court system define crime, and this is defined as “labeling.” When Becker was writing this book, the viewpoint on cannabis and crime was deeply conservative. Becker explains how his participation in the Chicago jazz world influenced the creation of this book.
Outsiders give a clear perspective of deviance and especially so because it views deviance as a cultural product of interactions between individuals whose occupations involve either committing crimes or catching and apprehending criminals (Becker, 2008:22). The reading gives a clear overview of how deviance occurs and the sociological aspects concerned with deviance. It is clear that many rules are not enforced and are not exceptional to the law and acts of deviance. The reading bears in mind that the outsider, who is the deviant from group rules, has been subject to much speculation, theorizing as well as a scientific study. It gives an account of their rule-breaking and explains how and why the breaking of rules occurs in different circumstances.
Becker delves deeper into deviant behavior and such as marijuana use and explains that different aspects may predispose an individual to use this substance. Becker reveals that the use of marijuana illustrates the way that deviant motives may develop in the course of experience with the deviant activity. It is shown that many deviants have participated in particular behaviors for prolonged periods, which makes them indulge in such habits. Becker expounds more on this and reveals that such individuals learn how to adapt to deviant habits and enjoy such habits (Becker, 2008:44). It is clear from Becker’s standpoint that, when deviant behavior occurs in a society, this will usually flout its fundamental values and norms. This consists of the basic social controls which operate regularly to maintain the valued forms of behavior within the society. Becker makes an important observation that social controls will usually affect individual behavior, and this can have positive or negative impacts because valued behavior is generally rewarded, and negatively valued behavior is generally punished.
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