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In this programme we take a journey through time to show how ideas about crime have moved in and out of fashion, how some of the latest strategies of crime prevention go back to the 19th Century and how thinking about crime and deviance is influenced by wider social changes.

It is organised around three distinct sociological approaches to crime and deviance:

1: Social Causes of Crime and Deviance

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We begin with a brief look at the origins of the study of crime in classical criminology, positivism and social reform; move on to the 1950’s and the puzzle of rising crime in increasing affluent post-war societies, explaining and illustrating Merton's ‘strain' theory and sub-cultural theories.

2: Social Construction of Crime and Deviance

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By the 1960s sociologists were asking some very different questions about crime and deviance. This section explains and illustrates the interactionist approach and the radical theory of the 1970s’, where sociologists were more interested in why some actions came to be seen as 'deviant' or 'criminal' and where those labelled as criminals were seen as victims or even rebels against the capitalist system.

3: Social Control of Crime

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By the 1980’s the social climate had changed. Researchers had to come up with some solutions to the ‘crime problem’ and a new 'realism' emerged. This section explores and illustrates three examples of this newer, more pragmatic approach: socio-environmental control, situational crime prevention and Braithwaite’s restorative justice. The programme ends with advice from Chief Examiner, Rob Webb, on answering questions on Crime and Deviance.

Teacher Booklet (PDF Document 712.33 KB.)

Crime and Deviance

Running time 42 minutes.

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“"This is part of the "Understanding Sociology" series and very good it is too. In basic terms, the video focuses on some of the main approaches and developments in the sociology of crime and deviance - from Durkheim, through Subcultural theories to New Right Realism. There's also a nice section on social control and situational theories of crime prevention... the video serves as a useful, nicely visual, overview of the main sociological theories of crime and deviance".”

Chris Livesey, Sociology Central