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Examine Sociological Theories Essay

Examine sociological theories that explain the ethnic dimension to crime and deviance (21 marks) Recent statistics show that black people are five times more likely to be in prison than whites. Ethnic groups are heavily over represented in prisons. Waddington et al investigated whether ethnic groups were targeted by the police and whether they were treated unfairly. Waddington et al concluded that these ethnic minorities were stopped and searched more because they were out on the street at the time.

His research could be criticised because he only interviewed the police, he didn’t interview the groups that were treated by the police. This would result in the police possibly lieing and saying that they treat the black people just as equally as they treat white people. Phillips and Bowling would disagree with Waddington et al as they believe that the over policing of ethnic neighbourhoods creates resentment. After the death of Stephen Lawrence the McPherson report stated that poor black areas were over policed but under protected.

This would again back up Phillips and Bowling and their theory of over policing in poor black areas. This angers the people in these poor areas because of the fact that the police are only targeting them for certain crimes such as drugs. The report states that they will randomly pick on a working class black male rather than someone else for a stop and search as they believe these people are more likely to be holding drugs. This leaves the rest of the people under protected because the police aren’t concentrating on other crimes such as robbery or assault.

Skolnick believes that most police stereotype the young black male as being a typical offender. He says that these stereotypical beliefs come from the ‘canteen culture’ and it is this belief that backs up Phillips and Bowling, as they would say that this belief would lead to the over policing in the poor black areas. Drabble investigated whether black people were treated unfairly in the courts. He found that blacks were more likely to be charged with more serious forms of offence than whites, whites were more likely to be cautioned whereas blacks were more likely to be prosecuted.

This is evidence of institutional racism mentioned in the McPherson report. Hood found that black people were more like to receive custodial sentences even though other punishments such as fines and community service were available alternatives. Fitzgerald researched ethnic minority street crime in London. He interviewed young ethnic minority offenders and their mothers and found that the higher the levels of deprivation in an area, the higher the levels of crime.

It is a statistic that Afro Caribbean households are more likely to be headed by lone parent families, which then results in higher crime in the family. This links in with Charles Murray who said that lone parent families would result in higher chances of failure at score and therefore higher chances of them turning to crime. It also links in with left realism and Jock Young and John Lea’s theory of relative deprivation. They say that people commit crime when they feel deprived, the media stresses the importance of economic goods and some will turn to crime to get these goods.

They also say marginalisation is a reason for the increase in crime because of young black men are made to feel on the edge of society with nobody to stand up for them, this causes frustration and resentment which leads to crime being committed. These reasons then cause an increase in subcultures or gangs and therefore an increase in crime. All of these researchers could be criticised as they reinforce stereotypes of the young black male as well as not looking at white, middle class crime. This would then link in with Marxism and the fact that the upper class are being treated more fairly with crime they commit than the lower class.

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