The social construction of criminality

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  • The social construction of criminality
    • How and why laws are made
      • An MP/Lord shared an idea for a new law. This is called a bill. It is deliberated in the house of parliament. It then needs a royal assent, meaning a monarch must approve it.
      • Why: To protect the public, to maintain social order, to ensure our rights, to punish immoral acts
    • Social construction
      • Crime is an idea that doesn't exist naturally and it has been constructed and maintained within society. It's not a rigid construct, but based on the values of certain societies
      • Culture can affect the application of laws.
        • The history, religion and social norms change between cultures. If it is the social norm for a culture to be religious then the laws may reflect this, e.g. Sharia law
          • If crime wasn't socially constructed, then the laws wouldn't change depending on culture and everyone would abide by the same laws.
      • Time can affect the application of laws
        • Social norms, research, economy and technology changes over time. The law needs to reflect these changes in society in order to stay fair, relevant and up to date
          • If it wasn't socially constructed, we would still be using ancient laws, not modern ones
      • Context can affect the application of laws
        • The social context can vary even though the act is  the same, which can affect how a crime may be justified.
          • If crime was not socially constructed, then punishment would be the same for everyone regardless of context. E.g. killing someone could be a homicide or manslaughter
    • How does the media contribute to social construction?
      • The media helps shape social norms by reporting on certain issues or crimes. This could lead to the public believing that certain offences are worse than others
        • Sensationalization, moral panics, folk devils
      • Campaigns for change demonstrate how society can control what may become a crime or be decriminalised which further demonstrates how crime is socially constructed


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