Outline and assess the role of the police in the social construction of crime (50 marks)
Social construction refers to the way in which crime and deviance in society might be created and shaped by society and social institutions. This can occur in a number of different ways. For example, they can influence public perception and definitions of what establishes crime and deviance, deviants or non-deviants. They can also influence the amount of crime in society by amplifying it therefore clamping down on it. They can add pressure for changes in legislation which can then alter definitions of crime and can criminalise activities previously regarded as legal. They can also influence the extent, trends and patterns of recorded crime in …show more content…
Cicourel concluded that justice is negotiable and his theories reveal the power and control both the police and the juvenile probation officer have over a young individual’s life. This therefore implies that it is these two agents who contribute towards the social construction of crime as they are given the authority to select certain individuals and undergo the process of labelling them as deviant.
Taylor, Walton and Young however criticise Cicourel’s conclusion as he fails to explain how subjective meanings held by the police and juvenile probation officers of the ‘typical delinquent’ originate in the first place.
Marxists agree with considering the police as a key agent in social construction of crime and deviance but they believe it reflects the ideology of ruling class. Gordon argues that crime is rational and individuals must fend for themselves in order to survive. This is particularly true of the American poor as America has minimal welfare services compared to many other advanced societies. Gordon stated that most crimes in the USA share the similarity of representing rational responses to the