Crime is Socially Constructed by Society

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 18 August 2016

Crime is Socially Constructed by Society

Crime does not naturally occur. It arises due to its necessity in certain areas. In other words, it is socially constructed by the residents of crime ridden areas who live in societies that have criminal abilities. This is due to a number of factors, but most importantly, crime arises in certain places because of the blatant segregation of the rich and poor; people tend to live in areas with other people who make about the same amount of money, and in low income areas, people resort to crime to make a few extra dollars. High Crime Areas So generally, areas with high crime rates have these problems because they are poorer areas.

The residents of such areas often do not have the options that the residents upper class neighborhoods have. Unemployment rates are much higher in poor communities (or areas with somewhat modestly priced homes, or public housing) and crime, therefore may, potentially, result in a greater monetary gain for individuals of poor areas when considering their other options. As crime is generally defined as something that goes against the law, it may be said that the laws broken in many petty crimes of poor communities were not put in place to protect the citizens of lower class communities.

Although some are dangerous, illegal drugs often represent a means (and for many people, the only means) of monetary gain in communities with lower standards of living. Though illegal, drug trafficking is seen as a better alternative than starving by many of the people who participate in the trade. Given that laws are, if at all, at best loosely framed around general moral concepts of right and wrong, it may be said that not all crime would be commonly thought of as bad, when alternatives are revealed.

For instance, it is illegal to urinate in public, but if one finds themselves in an unfamiliar area and is unable to locate a restroom, it is probably better for that person to relieve himself behind a tree in a park, than do so on himself, or harm his body by refraining from urinating for too long. Laws Often Overlooked or Disregarded There are a lot of actions that are illegal (and are therefore crimes) that are commonplace in certain communities or environments. For instance, it is socially (but still not legally) acceptable to drink in college settings, where many of the people are underage.

And in poorer communities where selling drugs can lead to someone’s primary income, most people do not regard handling or selling drugs as a crime, but rather as a means of making money, and something that must be concealed when law enforcement is in the area. Generally, the people in areas where drugs are sold feel that law enforcement is trying to get in the way of their rights; the people do not believe that what they are doing is morally reprehensible. Crime Created by the Lawmaker, rather than the Lawbreaker

It seems that, when residents of high crime areas consider some criminal activities to be unfairly restricted, crime is created by the government, which chose to outlaw certain actions. When lawbreakers do not consider their actions wrong, then to them, crime is indeed constructed by the government, which created laws. But from an authoritative view, crime is not created by the government, or exhibited by law enforcement who “creates” crime as officers make arrests, but rather it is created by the citizens who break laws that the government put into place.

Any society that has laws, rules, or restrictions that in any way hinder the civil rights or serve to limit the actions of citizens will potentially have crime. The lawmakers will consider crime as a creation of the citizens, while many citizens will view crime as something created by the lawmakers who decided to limit civil freedoms. The reason that some areas have much higher rates of crime than others is that as crime is socially constructed, it is done so by necessity. This, combined with housing segregation of the rich and poor, generally designates poorer neighborhoods as areas of higher crime.

But crime by its definition comes about in a different way. Values of Lawmaker and Lawbreaker may Differ Crime is justified by many lawmakers by their own moral standards. Suppose someone robs a convenience store, and carries away a few loaves of bread and some packaged meat. The thief probably does not completely disregard the wellbeing of the company or workers whom he robbed. He probably believes that they will still make it, even with the loss of the bread and meat. So in the thief’s mind, he considers that he needs the food, and the vending company does not.

Crime is really a conception. Although it is supposed to align with what is not right, or an action that is in fact wrong, when people have the ability to transcend the view that all laws are to protect what is intrinsically right, they can look at laws as restrictions. And generally, as people break the law, they try to avoid those who guard those restrictions (which are the law enforcement officers). It makes it much easier for people who participate in criminal activities to be of this view, as it helps to eliminate guilt. But this view is only applicable in certain scenarios.

Most people are not able to blow off a murder by allowing that it is only “wrong” because the law says so. In some cases, such as with murder, criminals may realize that according to their own morals a crime is wrong, and that explains why such serious crimes that are almost universally considered morally wrong are committed less than crimes that some may label restrictions. And many people do assess the morals of a situation according to their own values when it comes to making certain decisions, rather than according to the laws set in place.

It seems that the best way to explain what crime is, is by allowing that it is indeed created by the lawmakers. It is constructed socially, by people who set rules that are intended to govern societies. By setting these rules, they create the possibility of crime, which is defined as the breaking of these rules. Crime can be trivial, or very severe. Criminal offenses generally result in punishment, which is intended to deter crime, but when people do not see their actions as wrong, their main goal is not to refrain from their actions, but rather to find away not to be caught for committing them.

The Emergence of Crime Crime is socially created by any form of government. As Thomas Hobbes explains in his book Leviathan, before people become socially organized, and give up their natural rights that may include harming others for personal gain (as there are no laws or requirements in some state of nature except to do what prolongs one’s life), it seems that people consenting to give up their natural rights gives way to crime, which results when one infringes on the life or property of another.

Any successful social organization must allow for crime, which results when people do as they please with regards to others, instead of recognizing everyone’s civil rights. Any social community that has any order will have the possibility of crime. People are not perfect, and laws that allow for crime as they are broken must be set to deter the criminal activities that one would freely participate in without rules. People in poorer communities often have more incentive to engage in criminal acts, but it is not necessarily socially constructed by the criminals.

The existence of crime may just as easily be attributed to the lawmakers who themselves allow for crime by creating rules for society. Bibliography Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan. Oxford: Oxford University Press Rafter, N. (1990) The Social Construction of Crime and Crime Control. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Vol. 27, No. 4, 376-389. Welsh, I. (2005). The Social Construction of Crime. The Agonist. http://agonist. org/story/2005/12/23/121952/67


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 18 August 2016

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