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A2 Unit 2 - Crime and Deviance

7) Feminist Perspectives

Crime statistics tell us that men commit more crimes then women, and sociologists have different explanations as to why this is.

Sutherland (1949) said girls have a stricter upbringing whereas boys are encouraged to take risks; boys also have more opportunities to commit crimes due to their freedom

Parsons (1955) said in the modern nuclear family men work and women stay at home and nurse. Therefore young girls have more access to their role model than the boys do as the father is working. Parsons said the boys will reject the mother as a role model and will seek to be more masculine through aggressive actions, leading to crime.

Before feminism, women were invisible in the sociological perspective. Crime by women was explained by saying females criminals were a ‘special case’ and were a result of sexual promiscuity or biological deviance. Essentially sociology didn’t accept that normal women committed crime.

Feminists say that this ignorance of female crime is because society is patriarchal and is focused on men, ignoring the women. So feminists argue that the issues that other perspectives debate aren’t the really important ones, the biggest problem is that women are ignored.

Bias in the criminal justice system

A vast amount of research has looked into the way in which the criminal justice system might be gender bias.

Carlen found, using qualitative research on Scottish sheriffs and judges, that sheriffs were less likely to imprison women whom were good mothers but were more likely to punish single mothers or mothers with children in care.

Allen found that females are treated more leniently for motoring offenses.

Also, women who conform to the judges’ perspective of femininity were more likely to get lesser sentences.

This suggests that the feminist view that there is gender bias in the criminal justice system is true.


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


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