Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Final Soc. Abstract

It is apparent that crime is socially constructed and that because of this, people view crime, as well as justice, in different ways. For instance, one person might view a crime such as a murder in which the criminal used a gun differently than another person. According to Kleck (2001) many people are inclined to make the assumption that because the criminal was allowed access to a gun, he was able to murder somebody with it, and that stricter gun laws would have prevented this crime. However, Kleck (2001) points out the idea that this conception of guns and the resulting fatalities from people having access to them is out of proportion. He asserts that it is actually the case that there would be more harm done if anti-gun laws were enforced because a criminal is not apt to follow the laws anyway, thus, these laws would simply be leaving the victim without an equal means of protection.
Barak, Flavin, and Leighton (2001) reinforce the idea of the social construct of crime. They assert that the criminal justice system, as well as who is defined as a criminal is based upon social labels and that these labels are a “product of moral agents”. They also bring to light the fact that people often see people who are like them, (their same race, age, gender, and social status) as being less likely to be a threat than someone who does not fit into the same category as the person making the judgment. These ethnocentric views on crime and deviance often times affect how people relate to each other. If people view others who they feel are the same as them as being less likely to be violent, or criminal, then it is more likely that they will feel tension around and perhaps hostility towards people who they do not view as being their equals (Barak, Flavin, and Leighton 2001). Another issue Barak, Flavin, and Leighton (2001) bring up is that certain ethnic groups are more likely to be socially criminalized than others. For example, they use the image of the African-American women who trade sex for crack. They suggest it is more socially acceptable to perceive this image as true due to the social construct of crime than it would be to perceive the image of a middle-class white woman snorting cocaine (Barak, Flavin, and Leighton 2001).

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