Article

Social Construction of Crime

Murray Lee

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online January 2017 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0190
Social Construction of Crime

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Crime is a term generally used to describe a range of behaviors or acts that a society and/or its lawmakers have deemed fit to criminalize. Indeed, most forms of crime have little in common apart from the fact that they have been labeled as such and thus constitute and infringement of a specific law. This might seem self-evident to sociologists versed in social theory. However, crime is often talked about in contemporary society as if it were a self-evident natural, legal, or moral category. Nowhere is this more evident than in the biological or genetic search for the causes of crime where criminal acts are somehow prescribed within the individual makeup. In fact, crime is a very unstable construction. It is unstable temporally, culturally, and geographically. There are few acts if any that are always deemed crimes in every society. One need only think about homicide, which while broadly condemned, is legal in the theater of war in many contexts, or as an act of the state such as capital punishment in many jurisdictions.

Article.  6132 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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