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Summary: Different Ways in Which Social Control Has Been Exercised Throughout History

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Crime is a calculated action that is against the law and can cause physical or mental harm, damage or loss to an individual or property . However, there is no easy way to explain the concept of crime. Crime is a deceiving concept as it covers a wide range of human behaviours. Crime may be identified in the mind of the public as small, lenient crimes such as shoplifting and breaking and entering, however, there are also corporate crimes such as a business official having a different legal personality from the ‘normal’ people or person that manages its movements. Crime is often, falsely, believed to be the ‘vice of the few’. Crime, however, is everywhere in society. Therefore, trying to find the single most extensive cause of crime is near enough impossible.

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The concept of crime has always been reliant on the public’s view. Every society has developed their own rules to control the behaviours of individuals in the society. According to Terence Morris, “crime is what society says is crime by establishing that an act is a violation of the criminal law. Without law there can be no crime at all.” Nonetheless, there are a variety of distinctive procedures that can help to prevent the action of crime.

Crime prevention has equated to mean many different things to many different people and societies. Programmes and policies have been put in place to help design criminal prevention methods, such as police officers making an arrest or a court sanction. However, commonly, crime prevention refers to the act or efforts made before the crime has taken place to prevent crime and criminal offending. Both preventions hold a shared objective to try and prevent the future manifestation of criminal acts, but what further differentiates crime prevention from crime control is that crime prevention occurs outside of the criminal justice system. This perception prompts attention to crime prevention as a substitute approach to the more conventional acknowledgment of crime.

Furthermore, there is more than one approach to crime prevention, each of which has their own rules and regulations on how crime should be prevented and controlled. The three main approaches to prevent crime from happening are situational crime prevention; schemes which target the precise point at which likely victims and criminals consolidate, making it a lot harder for a crime to be committed. Environmental crime prevention is informal and formal social control steps which try to suppress anti-social behaviour and avert a geographical area from regressing. The last main approach is social and community crime prevention; which is the focus on individual offenders and the background which prompts a crime to be committed.

Since the 1990’s there have been a number of methods to prevent crime that have proved effective. The effectiveness of such methods has only been measured by the data received after comparing the situation before the utilisation of a crime prevention strategy. Although there is inadequate evidence to measure the most effective concept of adapting circumstances to prevent crime, there is however ample evidence that situational crime prevention is the most practical decisive method in helping the prevention of crime. Despite the fact this method does not always stop crimes from being committed, individuals may perhaps be dissuaded from committing crimes when there is more chance of them being caught.

One of the many theorists that have challenged prior definitions of crime is Karl Marx. Karl Marx defined crime and deviance as ‘the ruling of class and is used to control societies’; if individuals do not conform to the rules they will be punished. Marxists argue that white collar crimes (a crime committed by a person of higher class) are overlooked while blue collar crimes (crimes committed by an individual of a lower class) are centralised and seen as more severe. Marxists also believe that working class and the upper class are policed differently. Meaning the working class are heavily policed with the expectation that they will be more criminal and perform more criminal offences.

Another theorist is Michel Foucault. Foucault described modern society as disciplinary. Foucault portrayed the loss of punishment as a public display, which accentuated the infliction of pain to an individual, to the evolution of vigilance which grew around the advancement of the modern prison system.

During the years of 1760 and 1840, public punishment moderately disappeared, and instead punishment converted to being disclosed and vailed. A more productive economy, and technology, of discipline was contemplated which would allow for a more attentive but accountable movement of power. Foucault believed that this mode of social control was punitive and penetrates all principles of life in modern society. Foucault’s work discusses, mostly, the ‘power’ within the modern society. Power exploits itself in monitoring the behaviours of individuals, societies and interactions between individuals, which is why modern society is illustrated as a disciplinary society.

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