Written in my break so haven't proof-read, but hope it helps...I know it's a bit over-long, but no time to edit.
Outline and evaluate sociological explanations for the relationship between ethnicity and crime 
The debate over the relationship between ethnicity and crime in the UK can be traced back to the 19th Century, when immigration from Ireland fuelled distrust and suspicion, with the Irish being labelled a ‘dangerous class’. This debate has continued ever since, and is particularly evident every time a new immigrant group arrives into the UK. Only recently, the British media carried lots of stories about Romanian criminals, in anticipation of a wave of immigration from Romania.
There is evidence that does support the view that ethnic minority and immigrant groups are disproportionately criminal. For example, Black and Asian people are over-represented in the UK prison population, while white British people are under-represented. This pattern is continued across other official crime statistics.
Functionalists accept official statistics as being accurate and therefore would agree that ethnic minorities and immigrants are more likely to be criminals. However, most Functionalists suggest this problem is temporary. The host-immigrant model by Park (1950) demonstrates this view best. Park argued that immigrants are more criminal due to cultural differences with the host nation. This leads to a conflict of norms and values which disappears once the immigrant group are assimilated into the host culture. For example, following the unprecedented wave of Polish immigration into the UK after 2004, some police forces reported a rise in arrests for certain crimes including drink-driving and knife possession. Such offences are perhaps not so strictly enforced in Poland and may be considered more normal there. Park would argue that as Polish people become more accustomed to British culture, these types of crime would return to ‘normal’ levels.
However, Park’s theory rests on the assumption that all immigrant groups do successfully assimilate, but this is not necessarily the case (and many argue it shouldn’t be). It could also be pointed out that Park’s theory was formed in Chicago in the 1920s and ‘30s, so may not apply to other societies at other times. UK statistics also suggest that first-generation immigrants have historically been more law-abiding than subsequent generations.
Many Marxists agree that ethnic minorities are more likely to be criminals, but argue that this is a result of their treatment within capitalist societies. They suggest that ethnic minorities form part of the reserve army of labour, making them the first to lose their jobs in times of economic hardship. This makes them more likely to turn to crime in order to support themselves. Castles & Kosack (1973) argue that capitalism encourages racism, which in turn can lead to crime. Capitalism was built on slavery and, whilst slavery is gone, the same racist arguments used to justify it are now used to justify worse conditions and paying low wages to ethnic minorities. Crime can be a result of this, as minority groups fight back – for example, Desai (1999) found that crime was increasing in some Asian communities as a result of young Asian men standing up for their families and communities in ways that previous generations had been afraid to do. However, other Marxists – such as Hall (1979) – have argued that capitalism exaggerates ethnic criminality by labelling and scapegoating them.
Both Right and Left Realists may also support the view that ethnic minorities may be more criminal. Left Realists argue that marginalisation and relative deprivation cause crime. In Britain, ethnic minorities may be more likely to experience these things and therefore more likely to be criminals. Right Realists like Charles Murray argued that crime was a result of cultural differences. He was speaking about African-Americans, claiming that irresponsible parenting and unwillingness to work were part of their culture and that these sorts of traits led to crime.
However, these views assume – at least in part – that the statistics present an accurate picture. There are many opposing arguments, suggesting that the statistics are flawed or misleading. For example, the suggestion that there is an institutional racism within the police force that leads to them disproportionately focusing their efforts on minorities. The MacPherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence identified institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police, which adds weight to this argument. Phillips & Bowling (2002) found that ethnic minority neighbourhoods are over-policed, while Hood (1992) found that courts give black men longer sentences than white men. These studies further suggest some racism or prejudice in the Criminal Justice System. The CJS is the source of many official crime statistics, so any racism within the system will severely impact these statistics.
Outside of the CJS, some studies have identified the role of the media in exaggerating the crimes of ethnic minorities, therefore influencing the public views of them. For example, Hall (1979) identified the scapegoating of young black men in the ‘mugging’ moral panic on the 1970s, claiming it was a ploy to turn the working classes against each other in order to conceal the failings of capitalism. In 2000, Alexander investigated media reports into organised Asian gangs and found them to be mostly fabricated.
Left Realists Lea & Young (1984) suggested the truth lay somewhere between the two arguments. They pointed out that alleged racism by the police could not explain everything, as most police action is based on public reporting – and also because not all ethnic minority groups are over-represented by the statistics. They accepted that the criminal behaviour of ethnic minorities is exaggerated, but that it remains nonetheless disproportionate and increasing.
Outline and assess the importance of self-report studies for the sociological understanding of crime 
Self-report studies are a quantitative method of collecting data on crime. They tend to use surveys (through either interviews or questionnaires, or a combination of both) to get respondents to report on their own criminal behaviour, whether or not their behaviour is known to the police. This data enables researchers to understand ‘hidden offenders’ (offenders about whom the police don’t know) and to help uncover the dark figure of crime (crimes not reported and therefore not known about).
Perhaps the best example of a self-report study was the Farrington Study, a longitudinal study exploring the criminal behaviour of 411 boys from 397 families over the course of their lives. This study was able to uncover the extent of criminal activities of these individuals – much of which were never recorded in official statistics (93% of the participants admitted to having committed at least one offence that they had never been caught for). It was also able to show the peak offending ages of the participants (17/18), their patterns of criminal behaviour and their rates of reoffending. Other forms of crime data – police statistics and victim surveys – could never offer this level of information on a particular group. Self-report studies in general can offer more information on the age, gender and social class of offenders than other forms of data can. This shows the value of self-report studies in understanding the behaviour of a sample of individuals.
However, the scope of self-report studies is limited. Firstly – unlike police statistics and victim surveys – they only really have the potential to focus on a limited range of criminal behaviours, mainly low level crimes and anti-social behaviour. Those who have committed more serious offences for which they have not been caught are unlikely to reveal this to a researcher conducting a self-report study, and even though such studies promise confidentiality, this would have to come with a disclaimer for ethical (and legal) reasons that any serious criminal behaviour self-reported may have to be passed on by the researcher to the authorities. Secondly, self-report studies tend to be limited to smaller groups and samples. Police statistics have the advantage of having the whole nation as their sample, whereas victim surveys – while usually smaller-scale – have the potential to reach huge samples: The Crime Survey for England & Wales (CSEW) for example, is a national survey which interviews over 50,000 people every year. In the UK, a ‘national’, longitudinal self-report study was attempted in 2003 (the Offender, Crime & Justice Survey), but was a one-off and not an ongoing method like the CSEW.
Self-report studies are also subject to the same problems as any small scale survey: Their samples are generally too small to be representative, they are reliant on the honesty and memory of participants (which compromises their validity), they assume that the questions asked and definitions used (in this case, definitions of crimes) will be interpreted the same by every participant and they assume that every social group is equally likely to self-report.
Many sociologists might argue that police statistics are a better method of understanding crime; they are the biggest record, have the biggest sample, are officially sanctioned and can be traced back for decades, making them very useful in identifying patterns, trends and changes in crime. However, police statistics only record crimes reported to the police by the public, which many sociologists believe is only a tiny fraction of total crimes – and they are also influenced by different police practices (e.g. different priorities of different forces; discretion of individual forces and officers; cuffing and coughing). Other sociologists may argue that victim surveys are a better method; these can uncover hidden, unreported crimes and their victims – potentially on a larger scale that self-report studies. However, victim surveys also have their restrictions – they cannot find out about ‘victimless crimes’, which self-report studies can.
Overall, self-report studies on their own do have value. For finding out about lower-level crimes and, particularly, for exploring patterns of criminal behaviour in specific (small) groups they are very useful. They can also be useful in identifying ‘hidden offenders’; those whose criminal actions (again, usually lower-level), escape the attention of the police. Beyond this, they are very limited. However, no method of criminal data collection on its own is free of problems, and therefore for gaining a true sociological understanding of crime, it may be best to examine a range of different data and collection methods, rather than relying on any one method in isolation.
The Farrington Study
The Farrington Study was a longitudinal self-report study, aimed at documenting the start, duration and end of criminal activity in the lives of families. Data was gathered through interviews at different stages of the lives of participants, through which they disclosed the crimes they had committed (whether or not they had been arrested/charged/detected), as well as searching through criminal records.
411 Boys aged 8-9 (born in ‘53/4) from 397 different families were selected from the registers of 6 State Schools in East London. Most of them were white and working-class.
The last stages of interviews were when these participants were 48. 394 were still alive; 365 agreed to be interviewed.
The findings were:
Exploring public perceptions of racism in the UK police, this is a useful film to accompany the Ethnicity & Crime section of the unit or to add to discussions on the contribution of police to the social construction of crime...
We were discussing Aileen Wuornos today in A2 Sociology in relation to feminist explanations for gender differences in crime, chivalry thesis etc. Here is the trailer for the movie version, which is well worth watching...
The first subcultural explanation for crime came from A.K. Cohen (1955). Cohen was inspired by Merton’s Strain Theory, but where Merton had suggested crime was an individual response to a strain in the social structure, Cohen observed that a great deal of crime and deviance was committed by groups or gangs. He referred to these as delinquent subcultures.
Cohen developed his theory of status frustration to account for these delinquent subcultures. He noticed that most crime was committed by young, working class males and he believed that the problems for this group started in school. Being labelled failures in school gives working-class boys a lower social status, which causes frustration and leads them to forming deviant groups who rebel against the system by inverting traditional ‘middle-class’ values – and gaining status within the group for doing so. This compensates for the status lost through their original failure. For example, a gang of working-class boys gain status amongst each other in school by disrupting classes and playing truant. Outside of school, status may be gained through intimidating other people or engaging in petty crime.
Cohen’s work was influential, because it presented the idea that delinquent youths are not different from anyone else; they just try to gain status in different ways. However, the work can be criticised for only focusing on one group: Cohen ignores females, the middle-classes, or older people. Cohen also assumes that status frustration begins at school, but there is no evidence this is the case. Other influences, such as the family, are not taken into account.
Subcultural theories were further developed by Cloward & Ohlin (1960). Like Cohen, they were influenced by Merton – but they believed that Merton had ignored the existence of an illegitimate opportunity structure, which described the many non-legal ways opportunities people have to achieve their cultural goals. A career as a criminal is therefore just as valid – and done for the same reasons – as a non-criminal career. People access these criminal careers through subcultures. Cloward & Ohlin believed that there were three different forms of deviant subculture, but the type available to particular people will depend on where they live, who they know and what opportunities they have. Criminal Subcultures described those who truly make a living through crime - often a good living (e.g. ‘organised crime’). Conflict Subcultures describe less-organised street gangs, where (mostly) young males let out their frustrations through violence – whereas Retreatist subcultures describe social dropouts; those that cannot achieve goals or status legally or illegally, so turn to drugs, alcohol and petty crime to feed their habits.
Cloward and Ohlin reinforce the idea that criminals are no different from non-criminals; they generally possess similar goals and values but just choose different ways of achieving them. However, their typology of subcultures has been criticised for being too ‘neat’; do these really exist? Can all deviant groups really be fitted into one of these three categories? Many argue that the reality is much more diverse and complex.
Other subcultural theorists, such as Miller (1962) have offered a different explanation. Miller rejected the idea that there were specific values (or ‘inverted values’) that led to crime, instead suggesting that crime was more linked to working class culture. For Miller, the working-class is essentially a subculture and the values (which Miller called focal concerns) that working class males possess (e.g. smartness, fatalism, toughness) can naturally lead them into crime and deviance.
Miller’s ideas can be reinforced by other studies: For example, in the 1970s, Willis found evidence of a distinct working-class culture (different from ‘mainstream’ culture) in areas of Britain, whilst Parker identified similar focal concerns in working-class males in Liverpool. However, it could be argued that this view is outdated, as many sociologists argue the working-class today has fragmented, or become indistinguishable from the middle-classes, therefore do not have different values. On the other hand, Right Realists like Murray might agree with Miller’s theories; Murray believes that most crime originates in the underclass, who he has claimed have different values to the rest of society.
Although they have been influential, and many subsequent perspectives/theorists have discussed subcultures in relation to crime and deviance (e.g. Stan Cohen on mods and rockers, Hebdige on skinheads), there are many problems and limitations with subcultural theories. Most subcultural theories originate from the Functionalist perspective, and the theorists are almost all white, middle-class, male Americans writing in the 1950s-1970s, therefore their worldview and experiences may be limited. Functionalists base their theories on an unquestioning acceptable of official statistics, so their studies may lack validity and focus only on working-class males (who feature so highly in the statistics). Sociologists such as Matza (1964) have completely rejected subcultural theories: Matza claims that crime and deviance among young males is a result of subterranean values that all people share and that rather than forming criminal subcultures, young people drift in and out of criminal behaviour as a result of the challenges, freedoms and uncertainties they face at that time of life: Most of them drift out again just as quickly. For Matza, crime and deviance are basically a normal phase of life and not a subcultural response to social problems, or the product of particular groups having different values to others.
You can use these studies to support/evaluate Miller's Focal Concerns. Questions to consider at the end...
Studied working-class adolescent males in inner-city Liverpool. They referred to themselves as ‘the boys’. Parker studied their behaviours on nights out: When they were out, they said they didn’t go looking for fights, but if anyone hinted that they weren’t tough or that they couldn’t hold their drink, a fight would ensue. Their ability to pick up girls usually depended on how they looked, and their repartee. The essence of a good night out for them was having “a laff”. When they went out, they said they had no idea what was going to happen, though they did say that the thing they hated was being pushed around by bouncers or policemen.
Studied young working class men in London. Downes found no evidence of distinctive values, but found that they were disassociated from mainstream values. By this, he meant that they were more concerned about their leisure time, social lives and having fun than they were about their long-term future or employment – and they were, as a result, more likely to engage in petty crime.
The Case Studies covered in-class as influences on interactionism/labelling theory; useful for inclusion in your essays:
Stephen Box and the Naughty Jury
Box was selected for jury duty in a trial for a woman accused of theft. The money alleged to have been stolen was, Box thought, a relatively small amount. After a short deliberation, the jury found her guilty. Having finished their duty as good citizens, the members of the jury relaxed and started to discuss in a matter-of-fact way how they were going to fiddle their travel expenses and out-of-pocket expenses (the money jury members get through missing work etc. and having to travel to court) by claiming inflated amounts. Box pointed out that many members of the jury ended up ‘fiddling’ more money than the women they had just convicted had stolen.
Edwin Lemert and the Stuttering Boys
Lemert found a community of Native Americans on the Pacific Coast within which speech impediments were very common, particularly among young males. Lemert observed that public speaking was valued within the community; in order to attain the status of ‘manhood’, a boy had to show that he could master public speaking. Therefore if, at a young age, a boy showed any signs of speech defect, the parents reacted with such horror that the child was made aware of the problem and started worrying about it. Lemert argued that the child was made so nervous that it caused him to develop a stutter.
Bronislaw Malinowski and the Incestuous Tribe
Malinowski was investigating the suicide of a young man on a Pacific island. Prior to his suicide, the man had been publicly accused of incest and the islanders appeared to be shocked by the accusation. However, Malinowski soon discovered that incest was very common on the island and, even though it broke the rules, tended to be ignored as long as the people involved were discreet. It was only when an affair become public that the ‘offenders’ were ostracised and potentially driven to suicide.
For Victimology studies: Alesha Dixon (who I assume to be some kind of celebrity) discusses the effect of witnessing domestic abuse can have on the children of the victims/abusers.
Ross Kemp tries to understand gang violence among London teens. Some may argue that watching Ross Kemp trying to understand something is like watching a tortoise trying to solve a particularly difficult sudoku, but this is still useful viewing from Criminology students, providing a range of contemporary examples and some insight into recent patterns of youth violence in London.
Crime & Deviance
A2 Unit: G673