Article

The Social Construction of Crime

Richard Rosenfeld

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online December 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0050
The Social Construction of Crime

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Behaviors become crimes through a process of social construction. The same behavior may be considered criminal in one society and an act of honor in another society or in the same society at a different time. The legal status of a behavior—whether it is defined as a crime—lies not in the content of the behavior itself but in the social response to the behavior or to the persons who engage in it. Changes in the legal status of a behavior are often brought about by social movements and may entail considerable social conflict. Examples include the recent controversies over abortion policy and assisted suicide in the United States. Finally, the social response to crime—including many social-science explanations of criminal behavior—are based not only on the qualities of the act but also on the social and moral standing of the offender and the victim.

Article.  3653 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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