Sociology Unit IV – Social Deviance

Social Deviance Meaning

Deviance, in a sociological context, describes actions or behaviors that violatesocial norms, including formally-enacted rules (e.g., crime), as well as informal violations of social norms (e.g., rejecting folkways and mores).

 It is the purview of sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and criminologists to study how these norms are created, how they change over time and how they are enforced. Norms are rules and expectations by which members of society are conventionally guided. Deviance is an absence of conformity to these norms. Social norms differ from culture to culture.

For example, a deviant act can be committed in one society that breaks a social norm there, but may be normal for another society.

Viewing deviance as a violation of social norms, sociologists have characterized it as “any thought, feeling or action that members of a social group judge to be a violation of their values or rules” or group “conduct that violates definitions of appropriate and inappropriate conduct shared by the members of a social system.

The departure of certain types of behavior from the norms of a particular society at a particular time and “violation of certain types of group norms where behavior is in a disapproved direction and of sufficient degree to exceed the tolerance limit of the community.

Deviance as reactive construction Deviance is concerned with the process whereby actions, beliefs or conditions come to be viewed as deviant by others. Deviance can be observed by the negative, or a stigmatizing social reaction of others towards these phenomena.

An example in many societies would be sexual acts that stray from opposite-gender interactions. Criminal behavior, such as theft, can be deviant, but other crimes attract little or no social reaction, and cannot be considered deviant (e.g., violating copyright laws by downloading music on the internet).

People may have a condition or disease which causes minor segments in a society to be potentially alienated, such as having HIV, dwarfism,facial deformities, or being obese. Deviance is relative to time and place because what is considered deviant in one social context may be non-deviant in another (e.g., fighting during a hockey game vs. fighting in a nursing home).

Killing another human is considered wrong except when governments permit it during warfare or for self-defence. The issue of social power cannot be divorced from a definition of deviance because some groups in society can criminalize the actions of another group by using their influence on legislators.

Sociology of deviance – the processes that divide society into different types of people and the social effects of these processes Deviance implies an alleged breach of a social norm.


There are two ways of studying deviance as a social phenomenon:

Approach deviance as objectively given;

Approach deviance as subjectively problematic


Deviance as objectively given:

delineate the norms of society under study and regard any deviation from these norms as “deviant”; make 3 assumptions There is widespread consensus in the society in the realm of norms; this widespread agreement makes it relatively easy to identify deviance Deviance typically evokes negative sanctions such as gossip or legal action; Punishment meted out to the deviant reaffirms for the group that it is bound by a set of common norms.


Major questions raised by this approach are:

What sociocultural conditions are most likely to produce deviance?

Why do people continue to deviate despite the negative sanctions that are brought to bear on them?

How can deviance best be minimized or controlled?

Procedure for Studying Deviants

 List the norms of the society or group;

 Study official records kept on persons who violate these rules;

 Try to discover the ways in which deviants and nondeviants differ to determine sociocultural conditions that seem to make deviant behavior more likely;

Try to derive a theory to explain the deviance and apply the theory for the correction and prevention of deviance.

Strength of the approach is the sharpness and simplicity with which it phrases questions.

Weaknesses of approach is that in a heterogeneous society, people often do not agree on norms; it is not easy to identify deviants since some get caught and others do not; social control agencies operate with selective enforcement so that some categories of people are more likely to be punished for their deviance.

Deviance as Subjectively Problematic

Focus on the social differentiation of deviants


When people and groups interact they communicate with one another by means of shared symbols; through symbolic communication, people are able to type one another and formulate their actions accordingly.

Deviance can best be understood in terms of this process, that deviant labels are symbols that differentiate and stigmatize the people to whom they are applied.

People act on the basis of such definitions by treating the alleged deviant differently from other people; the alleged deviant my also react to this definition. Focus on social definitions and how these influence social interactions

Focus on the perspectives and actions of those who define a person as deviant

Look at circumstances under which a person is cast into a deviant role, most likely to be set apart as deviant, what actions other take on the basis of that definition of a person, and the consequences of these actions.

Focus on the perspective and reactions of the person adjudged to be deviant

Consider how a person reacts to being adjudged, how a person adopts a deviant role, what changes in group membership’s result, and what changes occur in the alleged deviant’s self-concept

Objectively given approach focuses primarily on the characteristics of the deviant or the conditions that give rise to deviant acts; the subjectively problematic approach focuses on the definitions and actions both of the deviants themselves and of the people who label them deviant, and on the social interaction between the two.

Deviants, from the interactions approach, are considered simply as people who are socially typed in a certain way

Typing usually involves an attempt to make sense of seemingly aberrant acts by employing stereotypical interpretations that define the actor as a particular kind of person that includes a judgment about the moral quality of the deviant’s motives and suggests how a person should act toward the deviant

The social definition of deviance consists of description, an evaluation, and a prescription

The definition of a person as a particular type of deviant organizes people’s responses to that person – the more people share the definition that a person is a particular type of deviant, the greater the consequences.

Once a person is typed as “deviant” a variety of social phenomena come into play, including who types whom, on what grounds, in what ways, before or after what acts, in front of what audience, and with what effects.

Conditions that seem to make typing more effective:

When type, the person typed as deviant, and other people share and understand the deviant definition in their social relationships.  The person becomes the think he is described as being.

 More accepted by other people if a high-ranking person does the typing

 If there is a sense that the alleged deviant is violating important norms and that the violations are extreme

Negative social typing is more readily accepted than positive typing because people find comfort in the frailties of others and negative social typing is seen as a valuable safeguard if the type indicates an aberrant behaviour pattern that will continue with major consequences .

If the audience stands to gains from the labelling it may divert attention from one’s own deviance or may sustain a status difference between oneself and the deviant.

 When social typing is effective, 3 kinds of consequences most often follow:

Self-fulfilling prophecy – typing is based on false beliefs about the alleged deviant, but the actions other people take on the basis of these false beliefs eventually make them a reality. Typecasting – the deviant stereotype is so widely accepted that confirmation of the typing proceeds rapidly, and typer, audience, and the person typed relate to each other in an automatic manner

Recasting – the deviant is expected to behave conventionally and is encourage disproving the deviant typing

The process of social typing occurs within a cultural context; because different groups and cultures have different ideas about deviance, typing often has an ethnocentric bias in which the outsider is typed as a deviant

Typing is easier when cultural guidelines exist

Person typed as deviant acquires a special status that carries a set of new rights and duties or changes in old ones

Juvenile Deliquency


The word “juvenile delinquency” has been differently analyzed by penologists. But generally speaking the term refers to a large variety of disapproved behaviour of children and adolescents which the society does not approve of, and for which some kind of diminishment, punishment of corrective measure is justified in the public interest.

Thus, the term has a very extensive meaning and includes rebellious and hostile behaviour of children and their attitude of indifference towards society.

Certain other acts such as begging, vagrancy, obscenity, loitering, pilfering, drinking, gambling etc. which vicious persons quite often commit are also included within the meaning of the term “juvenile delinquency”.

It may therefore be said that a juvenile is an adolescent person between childhood and manhood or womanhood, as the case may be, who indulges in some sort of anti-social behaviour, which if not checked, may turn him into a potential offender.

It may be noted that a great variety of acts included within the term “juvenile delinquency” are otherwise non-criminal in nature and are freely tolerated if done in by adults.

For example smoking, drinking or absenting one self from home may be permissible conducts for adults but the same are treated as delinquent acts if committed by children or adolescents.

Statistics on juvenile delinquency in India reveal that the problem is not so tense here as in other advanced countries.

This may be due to a variety of reasons such as greater family affiliation and parental control and persistence of religious convictions and moral precepts in Indian society.

Nevertheless, the impact of western civilization and temptation for luxuries and pompous life greatly disturbed the modern Indian youths. With the result there has been a considerable growth in crimes committed by juveniles.


The Indian law contains a more precise and clear-cut definition of juvenile delinquency. It provides that any violation of existing penal law of the country committed by a child less than 16 years of age and a girl less than 18 years shall be an act of juvenile delinquency for the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

The special provision which exist in the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code in relation to the juvenile offenders providing for their special treatment and producer are stated below-

(a) Sections 82 and 83 of the Indian Penal Code contain provision relating to the extent of criminal liability of children belonging to different age groups. A child below the age of seven is dole inscape, that is, incapable of committing a crime. Similarly, a child between seven and thirteen years of age has only a limited criminal liability.

The contention the nature and consequences of their act due to lack of sufficient maturity and understanding. It would, therefore, be grossly unjust to treat them at par with adult offenders. (b) Section 360 of the Code Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides that a person below twentyone years of age is known as the ‘first offender’ and is not to be tried in a criminal court through the ordinary procedure.

He is to be dealt with and corrected through special methods of treatment under the law. The object is to segregate the young offender from hardened criminals so that he is not exposed to recidivist tendencies.

(c) Section 27 of the Code of Criminal Procedure further suggests that a lenient treatment to juveniles has already received statutory recognition in the Indian law.

The section provides that if a person below sixteen years of age commits an offence other than one punishable with death or imprisonment for life, he should be awarded a lenient punishment depending upon his previous history, character and circumstances which led him to commit the crime.

His sentence can further be commuted for good behaviour during the term of his imprisonment.

With a view to preventing the juvenile offender from stigmatization and embarrassment, the proceedings instituted against him are neither published for publicised. His name, address or identity is not disclosed and general public is excluded from witnessing the trial.

The delinquent’s parents may, however, be allowed to attend the trial. The object of these closed-door proceedings is to keep off the delinquent from rigours of procedural law and make the trial simple and less formal.

The guiding principles relating to the treatment of children and young delinquents are now contained in two Central Asia, namely, the Children Act, 1960 and the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.

The latter Act provides for release of juvenile offenders on probation. The basic assumption underlying these legislative measures presuppose that youngsters are naughty is nature and therefore society’s attitude towards them should be one of tolerance and generosity.

That apart, the mental attitude of juvenile delinquent at the time of committing crime certainly differs from that of a confirmed adult criminal. It would therefore be basically unjust to punish the two alike.

The juvenile offenders are apprehended by police but only ion report of a Probation Officer. The Probation Officer makes his report on the basis of investigation made into the previous history and character of the offender and the circumstances leading to his act of criminality.

Thereafter, the young offender is produced before a lady honorary Magistrate for an informal private hearing. She explains to the juvenile the charge for which he or she is brought before her and also asks whether he/she confesses or denies the charge framed against him/her? During the course of this informal hearing the lady magistrate resorts to affectionate methods for extracting confession from the offender.

It is pertinent to note that the process of extracting confession from offenders is clearly against the accepted legal norms.

The entire proceedings and the records of the trial are kept strictly confidential so as to save the delinquent from stigmatization. If no case is established against the offender, he is discharged forthwith.

In case he is found guilty, he is booked to a detention home for readjustment. These detention homes for juvenile offenders provide for a disciplined life with sufficient recreational facilities and delinquent treatment for physical and mental defects.

The conviction in a juvenile court shall not entail any disqualification on juvenile offender.

Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

Family Influence

Theorists who believe in the peer influence model also tend to support the belief that family has a strong influence on development of delinquent behaviour. They clarify this by stating that the family type is also very important and children from non-traditional families have a greater chance of engaging in delinquent behaviour than children from traditional families.

Economic condition inherit to single parent families may place children at a greater risk (K.PADMAJA). A single parent also has the added pressure of trying to provide emotional support. While the reconstituted families experience difficulties in area of communication and emotional support.

One of the causes of Child’s deviation is divorce, and what accompany it are displacement, fragmentation and disunion of the families. It is undisputable that a child who is deprived of a loving mother and caring father would hasten towards crime and eventually becomes corrupt. (K.PADMAJA).

Children of divorced parents also face emotional conflicts regarding their allegiance to either one or both of their parents. They also face difficulties in scheduling time with their parents and adjustments to new influences when their biological parents remarry.

The author State the following- “children and adolescents who experience the family disturbances due to divorce and remarriage typically demonstrate higher levels of aggressive, defiant, and delinquent behaviour.

Mental Disorder

Conduct disorder usually develops during childhood and manifests itself during an adolescence life. Some Juvenile behavior is attributed to the diagnosable disorder known as conduct disorder. Juvenile delinquent who have recurring encounters with the criminal Justice system are sometimes diagnosed with conduct disorder because they show continuous disregard for their own and others safety.

Once the Juvenile reach maturation their socially unaccepted behavior has grown into life style and they develop into career criminal. (3) Abuse also affects the child yet the link between abuse and Delinquency is not very strong. Abused children tend to manifest more problematic and aggressive behaviour than children who are not abused. (K.PADMAJA.). some children are incapacitated so they can feed their so-called caretaker.

Children get support from their parents in problem solving, negotiating conflict, and social behaviour. Some children who are neglected by their parents run away from homes and appear in streets and railway station getting involved in small crimes. Also Children who have criminal parent are at a greater risk of becoming delinquent themselves. More than single parent children, children who grow up in home where marital violence prevails tend to be more delinquent. In such family children become introverts (K.PADMAJA).

According to research parental disruption is one of the key predictor for delinquent behaviour. This disruption can be varied in nature from divorce to parental depression, inconsistent parenting, constantly moving from one place to another and at least one parent committing crime. The conclusion is that lack of stability and consistency in lives of children leaves them at great risk for delinquent behaviour.

Mental illness and substance abuse, which often co-occur among Juvenile offender, can contribute substantially to delinquent behaviour. Studies have found very high prevalence rate of mental illness among detained and incarcerated Juveniles and Juvenile offenders. Lack of appropriate treatment may lead to future Delinquency, adult criminality and adult mental illness. (

Social Environment

There are many reasons for widespread crises in families today such as changes in social environment. There have been many changes in our social environment over last 25 years.

These changes have made the environment risky for the youth.

There is evidence in the research to demonstrate that low self-esteem may also be one of the contributing factors to delinquent behaviour. In kalpan’s theory however, young people are emotionally vulnerable. When young people experience rejection by their peer, some react by seeking out deviant peers in order to be accepted by people their own age.

Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse can result in both short term and long term harm, including psychopathology in later life. Physical and social effects including depression, post traumatic stress disorder, poor self esteem, anxiety disorders, general psychological distress and disorder are instilled in them. (Wikipedia).

Not all victims of child abuse and neglected child experience behaviour consequence. Studies have found abused and neglected children to be at least 25% more likely to experience problem such as Delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug use and mental health problem.

According to National Institute of Justice Study, abuse and neglected children were 11 times more likely to be arrested for criminal behaviour. A Juvenile is 2.7 times more likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behaviour than an adult.


Rational Choice: Many psychologists believe that this kind of behavior is the result of the self interest or will of the offender himself. In other words he does this because he wants to do this. This cause is most harmful because the offender finds a certain degree of satisfaction after committing the crime and so sees nothing wrong to it.

Social Disorganization: Traditionally our community lived as one. There was joint family system. The environment of the school, home everything was very different from what it is today. As our social system is undergoing a change, families are isolated, with both parents working and children left alone with no care.

Strain and Stress: The children are more prone to easy stress and strain from the discrimination in our society. Though India has seen fast development and living conditions have improved a lot in past one decade, still we can see that the rich have become richer and the poor are poorer. So the discrimination is still there. The desires and wants drive children to commit crimes merely for satisfaction of their wants.

Bad Company: The children who are in bad company knowingly or unknowingly enter and become a part of the world of crimes. Such individuals are motivated to commit crime by their peers or criminal friends.

Labeling: This is the theory of our society. Generally when we see someone or hear someone’s involvement in a crime, we actually label him as a criminal. In schools we see and hear terms like Back Benchers, Failures. Such terminology becomes identification marks of these individuals and they thus rarely make an attempt to come out of it.  Male Phenomenon: Mostly we see the young men at their adolescent period are naturally more aggressive and they pretend to be more powerful, strong or daring. In a pressure to prove this masculinity, they step into the world of crime.

Reformative Remedies

For reformation of Juveniles various remedies are available under the Act. After coming out from these special homes they sometimes also get exploited where child trafficking is one of the forms for their exploitation. Child trafficking shall include at minimum exploitation of prostitution of others or other form of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery and practices similar to slavery servitude or removal of organs. And thus to minimize these chances remedies are given in Juvenile Justice Act.


Adoption means the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and become the legitimate child of adoptive parent with all right, privileges and responsibility.

Government has also constituted various agencies for adoption and these agencies are duty bound to keep check on children who have been adopted.

To safeguard malpractices and deviations from prescribed guidelines for adoption notified by Government of India, Supreme Court of India has appointed an independent Non Governmental Organisations with experience in child adoption- ‘The Indian council of social welfare’ with head quarters in Mumbai and branches in all States as scrutiny agencies.

Central Adoption Resource Authority CARA is another authority which has been setup to keep check on the adoption policies. It is the National level body under Ministry of Women and Child Development for all matters relating to adoption.

Under section 41(5) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000 another authority has been instituted for adoption of Juvenile child. Under this section- “No child shall be offered for adoption – · Until two members of committee declares the child legally free for placement in case of abandoned child.

  • Until two months period for reconsideration by the parents is over in case of surrendered children.
  • Without his consent in case of child who can understand and express his consent. After fulfilling all these conditions only the child can be given for adoption.


Exploitation of children has been a long standing practice. These delinquent go through a lot of abuse which vary in nature as physical, sexual, or psychological or as a combination. The abuse has a long lasting and profound effect on a child’s life. The problem of child abuse is a serious one and it is unlikely that it gets solved any sooner.

Also the reason why this has prolonged is that the society has affected the children in a negative way and in the society there are factors such as family influence, social environment, mental disorder and sexual abuse. This develops in young people low self esteem and they go through mental trauma which later correlates with delinquent behaviour.

What needs to be done is the question that arises before us. We cannot uproot this menace but there are solutions to keep a control on the problem of Juvenile Delinquency. In the best interest of the delinquent he or she should be rehabilitated as early as possible and integrated back in the society.

Also the State must protect the rights of these children and come up with reformative methods and instil in them values that can socially uplifts them and give them a new found confidence so that they can play a constructive role in the society.


Juvenile Delinquency can be checked at a very primary stage and measures can be taken both at home as well as in school to help bring children out of this characterization.

As it is evident from the above discussion that it’s not just the will of an individual which makes him get into the world of wrong deeds, all other factors like schools, neighborhood, Family, Society, Situations are equally responsible for the degradation or fall of a child. 

Hence instead of labeling them as one we must try and find ways, rectify the errors in their lives which led them to behave in this manner.

Children are soft clay, we can mould them, we have the art, we have the knowledge, all that is needed is faith and patience which if we fail to practice it results in complete reform of a child to anti social elements and thereby criminals, which is wrong on our part.

Criminals are not born they are made, and if we as a society can make them then we as a society also have the power to cure them. 

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it.

No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available.

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse,occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.

Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused— especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well.

The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe.

Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your selfworth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.

Signs of an abusive relationship

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive.

Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, answer the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you’re in an abusive relationship.

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abusespousal abusebatteringfamily violencedating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage,cohabitation, dating or within the family.

Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation;stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.

Alcohol consumption and mental illness] can be co-morbid with abuse, and present additional challenges in eliminating domestic violence. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country, and from era to era.

Domestic violence and abuse is not limited to obvious physical violence. Domestic violence can also mean endangerment, criminal coercion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, trespassing, harassment, and stalking.

Laws on domestic violence vary by country. While it is generally outlawed in the Western World, this is not the case in many developing countries. For instance, in 2010, the United Arab Emirates’s Supreme Court ruled that a man has the right to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he does not leave physical marks.

The social acceptability of domestic violence also differs by country. While in most developed countries domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many regions of the world the views are different: according to a UNICEF survey, the percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is, for example: 90% in Afghanistan and Jordan, 87% in Mali, 86% in Guinea and Timor-Leste, 81% in Laos, 80% in Central African Republicing to submit to a husband’s wishes is a common reason given for justification of violence in developing countries: for instance 62.4% of women in Tajikistan justify wife beating if the wife goes out without telling the husband; 68% if she argues with him; 47.9% if she refuses to have sex with him. 

Traditionally, in most cultures, men had a legal right to use violence to “discipline” their wives. Although in the US and many European countries this right was removed from them in the late 19th/early 20th century, before the 1970s criminal arrests were very rare (occurring only in cases of extreme violence), and it was only in the 1990s that rigorous enforcement of laws against domestic violence became standard policy in Western countries. 


The definition of the term “domestic violence” varies, depending on the context in which it is used. It may be defined differently in medical, legal, political or social contexts. The definitions have varied over time, and vary in different parts of the world. Traditionally, domestic violence was mostly associated with physical violence.

For instance, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, domestic violence is: “the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also: a repeated / habitual pattern of such behavior.”

However, domestic violence today, as defined by international conventions and by governments, has a much broader definition, including sexual, psychological and economic abuse.

The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence states that:

” “domestic violence” shall mean all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim”.

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women classifies violence against women into three categories: that occurring in the family (DV), that occurring within the general community, and that perpetrated or condoned by the State. Family violence is defined as follows:

“Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non- spousal violence and violence related to exploitation”.

The term “intimate partner violence” (IPV) is often used synonymously with domestic abuse or domestic violence. Family violence is a broader definition, often used to include child abuse, elder abuse, and other violent acts between family members. 

Broad definitions of domestic violence are common today. For instance the Act XX on Domestic Violence 2006, in Malta, defines DV as follows:

“domestic violence” means any act of violence, even if only verbal, perpetrated by a household member upon another household member and includes any omission which causes physical or moral harm to the other”

Terms such wife abuse, wife beating, and battering are descriptive terms that have lost popularity recently for several reasons:

  • There is acknowledgment that many victims are not actually married to the abuser, but rather cohabiting or in other arrangements.[
  • Abuse can take other forms than physical abuse. Other forms of abuse may be constantly occurring, while physical abuse happens occasionally. These other forms of abuse, that are not physical, also have the potential to lead to mental illness, self-harm, and even attempts at suicide.
  • Males as well as females may be victims of domestic violence, and females as well as males can be the perpetrators.
  • All forms of domestic abuse can occur in same sex partnerships.

“Domestic violence” may also be the name of a specific criminal offense, in a Criminal Code of a jurisdiction, describing various criminal acts. It may also appear in the context of legislation that is not necessary criminal, but rather civil (providing for civil remedies, protection orders etc.). See, for example, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.

Government definitions:

The US Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner”.

The definition adds that domestic violence “can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender”, and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.[21]

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the United Kingdom in its “Domestic Violence Policy” uses domestic violence to refer to a range of violent and abusive behaviors, defining it as:

Patterns of behavior characterized by the misuse of power and control by one person over another who are or have been in an intimate relationship. It can occur in mixed gender relationships and same gender relationships and has profound consequences for the lives of children, individuals, families and communities.

It may be physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological. The latter may include intimidation, harassment, damage to property, threats and financial abuse .

Domestic Violence Classification

Violence by a person against their intimate partner is often done as a way for controlling their partner, even if this kind of violence is not the most frequent. Many types of intimate partner violence occur, including violence between gay and lesbian couples, and by women against their male partners

Intimate Partner Violence Types

Michael P. Johnson argues for four major types of intimate partner violence, which is supported by subsequent research and evaluation. as well as independent researchers. 

Distinctions are made among the types of violence, motives of perpetrators, and the social and cultural context based upon patterns across numerous incidents and motives of the perpetrator. Types of violence identified by Johnson: 

  • Common couple violence (CCV) is not connected to general control behavior, but arises in a single argument where one or both partners physically lash out at the other.
  • Intimate terrorism (IT) may also involve emotional and psychological abuse. Intimate terrorism is one element in a general pattern of control by one partner over the other. Intimate terrorism is less common than common couple violence, more likely to escalate over time, not as likely to be mutual, and more likely to involve serious injury. IT batterers include two types: “Generally-violent-antisocial” and “dysphoric-borderline”. The first type includes people with general psychopathic and violent tendencies. The second type are people who are emotionally dependent on the relationship Support for this typology has been found in subsequent evaluations.
  • Violent resistance (VR), sometimes thought of as “self-defense”, is violence perpetrated by victims against their abusive partners
  • Mutual violent control (MVC) is rare type of intimate partner violence occurring when both partners act in a violent manner, battling for control.

Types of male batterers identified by Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) include “family-only”, which primarily fall into the CCV type, who are generally less violent and less likely to perpetrate psychological and sexual abuse. 


Others, such as the US Centers for Disease Control, divide domestic violence into two types: reciprocal, in which both partners are violent, and non-reciprocal violence, in which one partner is violent


Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.

Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing, burning and other types of contact that result in physical injury to the victim. Physical abuse can also include behaviors such as denying the victim of medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will. If a person is suffering from any physical harm then they are experiencing physical abuse. This pain can be experienced on any level It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause psychological harm to the victim


Sexual abuse is any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain participation in unwanted     sexual activity. Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity against their will, even if that person is a spouse or intimate partner with whom consensual sex has occurred, is an act of aggression and violence.

Sexual violence is defined by World Health Organization as:

  • any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.
  • Categories of sexual abuse include:
    1. Use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed;
    2. Attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, unable to decline participation, or unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of underage immaturity, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure. Marital rape


Marital rape, also known as spousal rape, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. It is a form of partner rape, of domestic violence, and of sexual abuse. Once widely condoned or ignored by law, spousal rape is now repudiated by international conventions and increasingly criminalized. Still, in many countries, spousal rape either remains legal, or is illegal but widely tolerated and accepted as a husband’s prerogative.

The criminalization of rape in marriage is recent, having occurred during the past few decades. The legal and social concept of marital rape, has developed, in most industrialized countries, in the mid to late 20th century; and in many parts of the world it is still not recognized, socially and legally, as a form of abuse. Several countries in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia made spousal rape illegal before 1970, but other countries in Western Europe and the English-speaking Western World outlawed it much later, mostly in the 1980s and 1990s. In many parts of the world the laws against marital rape are very new, having been enacted in the 2000s.

In the US spousal rape is illegal in all 50 states In Canada, spousal rape was outlawed in 1983, when several legal changes were made, including changing the rape statute to sexual assault, and making the laws gender neutral. Criminalization in Australia began with the state of New South Wales in 1981, followed by all other states from 1985 to 1992. New Zealand outlawed spousal rape in 1985, and Ireland in 1990. In England and Wales, spousal rape was made illegal in 1991, when the marital rape exemption was abolished by the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, in the case of R v R.


Emotional abuse:

Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) can include humiliating the victim privately or publicly, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses independence or happiness, or denying the victim access to money or other basic resources and necessities. Degradation in any form can be considered psychological abuse.

Emotional abuse can include verbal abuse and is defined as any behavior that threatens, intimidates, undermines the victim’s self-worth or self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom. This can include threatening the victim with injury or harm, telling the victim that they will be killed if they ever leave the relationship, and public humiliation. Constant criticism, name-calling, and making statements that damage the victim’s self-esteem are also common verbal forms of emotional abuse. 

Often perpetrators will attempt and may succeed in alienating (parental alienation), a child from a parent or extended family member, and in doing so also victimize the child when the child is engaged in emotional abuse by encouraging, teaching or forcing them to harshly criticize another victim. Emotional abuse includes conflicting actions or statements which are designed to confuse and create insecurity in the victim. These behaviors also lead the victims to question themselves, causing them to believe that they are making up the abuse or that the abuse is their fault

Emotional abuse includes forceful efforts to isolate the victim, keeping them from contacting friends or family. This is intended to eliminate those who might try to help the victim leave the relationship and to create a lack of resources for them to rely on if they were to leave. Isolation results in damaging the victim’s sense of internal strength, leaving them feeling helpless and unable to escape from the situation. 

People who are being emotionally abused often feel as if they do not own themselves; rather, they may feel that their significant other has nearly total control over them. Women or men undergoing emotional abuse often suffer from depression, which puts them at increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.


Verbal abuse is a form of emotionally abusive behavior involving the use of language. Verbal abuse can also be referred to as the act of threatening. Through threatening a person can blatantly say they will harm you in any way and will also be considered as abuse. It may include profanity but can occur with or without the use of expletives.

Verbal abuse may include aggressive actions such as name-calling, blaming, ridicule, disrespect, and criticism, but there are also less obviously aggressive forms of verbal abuse. Statements that may seem benign on the surface can be thinly veiled attempts to humiliate; falsely accuse; or manipulate others to submit to undesirable behavior, make others feel unwanted and unloved, threaten others economically, or isolate victims from support systems.

In Jekyll and Hyde behaviors, the abuser may fluctuate between sudden rages and false joviality toward the victim; or may simply show a very different “face” to the outside world than to the victim. While oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, it includes abusive communication in written form.


Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources Economic abuse may involve preventing a spouse from resource acquisition, limiting the amount of resources to use by the victim, or by exploiting economic resources of the victimThe motive behind preventing a spouse from acquiring resources is to diminish victim’s capacity to support his/herself, thus forcing him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially, which includes preventing the victim from obtaining education, finding employment, maintaining or advancing their careers, and acquiring assets. 

In addition, the abuser may also put the victim on an allowance, closely monitor how the victim spends money, spend victim’s money without his/her consent and creating debt, or completely spend victim’s savings to limit available resources

Specific forms in parts of the world

In some parts of the world, specific forms of domestic violence, such as honor killings, acid attacks and dowry violence, are common.

Honor killings:

An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. Although these crimes are most often associated with the Middle East, they occur in other places too.

Human Rights Watch defines “honor killings” as follows:

Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.

Acid throwing:

Acid throwing, also called an acid attack. or vitriol age is defined as the act of throwing acid onto the body of a person “with the intention of injuring or disfiguring [them] out of jealousy or revenge”. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones.The long term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body. Acid attacks are often connected to domestic disputes in places such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. In India, these attacks also happen in connection to dowry murders.

On children

3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year in the US. There has been an increase in acknowledgment that a child who is exposed to domestic abuse during their upbringing will suffer in their developmental and psychological welfare.During the mid 1990s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study found that children who were exposed to domestic violence and other forms of abuse had a higher risk of developing mental and physical health problems. Because of the awareness of domestic violence that some children have to face, it also generally impacts how the child develops emotionally, socially, behaviorally as well as cognitively.

Some emotional and behavioral problems that can result due to domestic violence include increased aggressiveness, anxiety, and changes in how a child socializes with friends, family, and authorities Depression, emotional insecurity, and mental health disorders can follow due to traumatic experiences. Problems with attitude and cognition in schools can start developing, along with a lack of skills such as problem-solving. Correlation has been found between the experience of abuse and neglect in childhood and perpetrating domestic violence and sexual abuse in adulthood. 

Additionally, in some cases the abuser will purposely abuse the mother or father in front of the child to cause a ripple effect, hurting two victims simultaneously. It has been found that children who witness mother-assault are more likely to exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Consequences to these children are likely to be more severe if their assaulted mother develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and does not seek treatment due to her difficulty in assisting her child with processing his or her own experience of witnessing the domestic violence. 

Family Violence prevention in Australia and other countries has begun to focus on breaking intergenerational cycles, according to the National (Aust) Standards for Working with Children Exposed to Family Violence it is important to acknowledge that exposing children to Family Violence is child abuse. Some of the effects of Family Violence on children are highlighted in the Queensland Government and SunnyKids awareness raising campaign. 


Bruises, broken bones, head injuries, lacerations, and internal bleeding are some of the acute effects of a domestic violence incident that require medical attention and hospitalization. Some chronic health conditions that have been linked to victims of domestic violence are arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, pelvic pain, ulcers, and migraines. Victims who are pregnant during a domestic violence relationship experience greater risk of miscarriage, pre-term labor, and injury to or death of the fetus.


Among victims who are still living with their perpetrators high amounts of stress, fear, and anxiety are commonly reported. Depression is also common, as victims are made to feel guilty for ‘provoking’ the abuse and are frequently subjected to intense criticism. It is reported that 60% of victims meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, either during or after termination of the relationship, and have a greatly increased risk of suicidality. 

In addition to depression, victims of domestic violence also commonly experience long-term anxiety and panic, and are likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.

The most commonly referenced psychological effect of domestic violence is PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD (as experienced by victims) is characterized byflashbacks, intrusive images, exaggerated startle response, nightmares, and avoidance of triggers that are associated with the abuse. These symptoms are generally experienced for a long span of time after the victim has left the dangerous situation.

Many researchers state that PTSD is possibly the best diagnosis for those suffering from psychological effects of domestic violence, as it accounts for the variety of symptoms commonly experienced by victims of trauma.


Once victims leave their perpetrator, they can be stunned with the reality of the extent to which the abuse has taken away their autonomy. Due to economic abuse and isolation, the victim usually has very little money of their own and few people on whom they can rely when seeking help.

This has been shown to be one of the greatest obstacles facing victims of DV, and the strongest factor that can discourage them from leaving their perpetrators. 

In addition to lacking financial resources, victims of DV often lack specialized skills, education, and training that are necessary to find gainful employment, and also may have several children to support.

In 2003, thirty-six major US cities cited DV as one of the primary causes of homelessness in their areas It has also been reported that one out of every three homeless women are homeless due to having left a DV relationship. If a victim is able to secure rental housing, it is likely that her apartment complex will have “zero tolerance” policies for crime; these policies can cause them to face eviction even if they are the victim (not the perpetrator) of violence.

While the number of shelters and community resources available to DV victims has grown tremendously, these agencies often have few employees and hundreds of victims seeking assistance which causes many victims to remain without the assistance they need. 


Domestic violence can trigger many different responses in victims, all of which are very relevant for any professional working with a victim. Major consequences of domestic violence victimization include psychological/mental health issues and chronic physical health problems.

Some long term effects on a child who comes from an abusive household, or have been abused themselves are guilt, anger, depression/anxiety, shyness, nightmares, disruptiveness, irritability, and problems getting along with others.

Although they may have not been the ones being abused it still affects them because they had to experience and witness their loved ones being abused, which takes a toll on them as well. Domestic violence also teaches poor family structure. A child who grows up being abused thinks of that as a way a family functions, and will grow up and repeat the cycle because that is all they know.

Some other long term affects include but are not limited to poor health, low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, drug and alcohol abuse risk, isolation, suicidal thoughts, and extreme loneliness and fear. A victim’s overwhelming lack of resources can also lead to homelessness and poverty.

A person who has suffered abuse is at risk for a lot of negative consequences that can put them on a destructive path for their future.  

On responders

Vicarious trauma:

Due to the gravity and intensity of hearing victims’ stories of abuse, professionals (social workers, police, counselors, therapists, advocates, medical professionals) are at risk themselves for secondary or vicarious trauma (VT), which causes the responder to experience trauma symptoms similar to the original victim after hearing about the victim’s experiences with abuse

Research has demonstrated that professionals who experience vicarious trauma show signs of exaggerated startle response, hyper vigilance, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts although they have not experienced a trauma personally and do not qualify for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD

Researchers concluded that although clinicians have professional training and are equipped with the necessary clinical skills to assist victims of domestic violence, they may still be personally affected by the emotional impact of hearing about a victim’s traumatic experiences.

Life et al. found that there are several common initial responses that are found in clinicians who work with victims: loss of confidence in their ability to help the client, taking personal responsibility for ensuring the client’s safety, and remaining supportive of the client’s autonomy if they make the decision to return to their perpetrator. 

It has also been shown that clinicians who work with a large number of victims may alter their former perceptions of the world, and begin to doubt the basic goodness of others. Life et al. found that clinicians who work with victims tend to feel less secure in the world, become “acutely aware” of power and control issues both in society and in their own personal relationships, have difficulty trusting others, and experience an increased awareness of gender-based power differences in society.

The best way for a clinician to avoid developing VT is to engage in good selfcare practices. These can include exercise, relaxation techniques, debriefing with colleagues, and seeking support from supervisors

Additionally, it is recommended that clinicians make the positive and rewarding aspects of working with domestic violence victims the primary focus of thought and energy, such as being part of the healing process or helping society as a whole.

Clinicians should also continually evaluate their empathic responses to victims, in order to avoid feelings of being drawn into the trauma that the victim experienced. It is recommended that clinicians practice good boundaries, and find a balance in expressing empathic responses to the victim while still maintaining personal detachment from their traumatic experiences.


Vicarious trauma can lead directly to burnout, which is defined as “emotional exhaustion resulting from excessive demands on energy, strength, and personal resources in the work setting” The physical warning signs of burnout include headaches, fatigue, lowered immune function, and irritability

A clinician experiencing burnout may begin to lose interest in the welfare of clients, be unable to empathize or feel compassion for clients, and may even begin to feel aversion toward the client. 

If the clinician experiencing burnout is working with victims of domestic violence, the clinician risks causing further great harm through revictimization of the client. It should be noted, however, that vicarious trauma does not always directly lead to burnout and that burnout can occur in clinicians who work with any difficult population – not only those who work with domestic violence victims.


These factors include genetics and brain dysfunction and are studied by neuroscience.


Psychological theories focus on personality traits and mental characteristics of the offender. Personality traits include sudden bursts of anger, poor impulse control, and poor self-esteem. Various theories suggest that psychopathology and other personality disorders are factors, and that abuse experienced as a child leads some people to be more violent as adults.

Correlation has been found between juvenile delinquency and domestic violence in adulthood. Studies have found high incidence of psychopathy among abusers.  

For instance, some research suggests that about 80% of both court-referred and self-referred men in these domestic violence studies exhibited diagnosable psychopathology, typically personality disorders. “The estimate of personality disorders in the general population would be more in the 15–20% range

As violence becomes more severe and chronic in the relationship, the likelihood of psychopathology in these men approaches 100%.”[4] Dutton has suggested a psychological profile of men who abuse their wives, arguing that they have borderline personalitiesthat are developed early in life. 

However, these psychological theories are disputed: Gelles suggests that psychological theories are limited, and points out that other researchers have found that only 10% (or less) fit this psychological profile. He argues that social factors are important, while personality traits, mental illness, or psychopathy are lesser factors studies.

Environmental Crimes

An environmental crime is a violation of environmental laws that are put into place to protect the environment. When broadly defined, the crime includes all illegal acts that directly cause environmental harm.

Such crimes are also referred to as ‘crime against the environment.’ Although all illegal acts in violation of environmental legislations are environmental crimes, international bodies such as the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, G8, Interpol, EU, and UN Environment Programme have identified some specific crimes that come under the environmental crimes category.

These include:

Dumping industrial wastes into water bodies, and illicit trade in hazardous waste in contravention of the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes and their Disposal.

Unreported, unregulated, and illegal fishing in contravention to controls imposed by various regional fisheries management organizations.

Buying and selling endangered species in contravention to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Smuggling of Ozone depleting substances (ODS) in contravention to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer;

Illegal logging and trade in stolen timber in violation of the wildlife laws.

All these illegal crimes are punishable.

Cyber Crimes

Cybercrime, also called Computer Crime,  the use of a computeras an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committingfraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, stealing identities, or violating privacy. Cybercrime, especially through the Internet, has grown in importance as the computer has become central to commerce, entertainment, and government.

Because of the early and widespread adoption of computers and the Internet in the United

States, most of the earliest victims and villains of cybercrime were Americans. By the 21st century, though, hardly a hamlet remained anywhere in the world that had not been touched by cybercrime of one sort or another.

Defining Cyber Crime

New technologies create new criminal opportunities but few new types of crime. What distinguishes cybercrime from traditional criminal activity?

Obviously, one difference is the use of the digital computer, but technology alone is insufficient for any distinction that might exist between different realms of criminal activity. Criminals do not need a computer to commit fraud, traffic in child pornography and intellectual property, steal an identity, or violate someone’s privacy.

All those activities existed before the “cyber” prefix became ubiquitous. Cybercrime, especially involving the Internet, represents an extension of existing criminal behaviour alongside some novel illegal activities.

Most cybercrime is an attack on information about individuals, corporations, or governments. Although the attacks do not take place on a physical body, they do take place on the personal or corporate virtual body, which is the set of informational attributes that define people and institutions on the Internet.

In other words, in the digital age our virtual identities are essential elements of everyday life: we are a bundle of numbers and identifiers in multiple computer databases owned by governments and corporations.

Cybercrime highlights the centrality of networked computers in our lives, as well as the fragility of such seemingly solid facts as individual identity.

An important aspect of cybercrime is its nonlocal character: actions can occur in jurisdictions separated by vast distances. This poses severe problems for law enforcement since previously local or even national crimes now require international cooperation.

For example, if a person accesses child pornography located on a computer in a country that does not ban child pornography, is that individual committing a crime in a nation where such materials are illegal?

Where exactly does cybercrime take place? Cyberspace is simply a richer version of the space where a telephone conversation takes place, somewhere between the two people having the conversation. As a planet-spanning network, the Internet offers criminals multiple hiding places in the real world as well as in the network itself.

However, just as individuals walking on the ground leave marks that a skilled tracker can follow, cybercriminals leave clues as to their identity and location, despite their best efforts to cover their tracks. In order to follow such clues across national boundaries, though, international cybercrime treaties must be ratified.

In 1996 the Council of Europe, together with government representatives from the United States, Canada, and Japan, drafted a preliminary international treaty covering computer crime.

Around the world, civil libertarian groups immediately protested provisions in the treaty requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to store information on their customers’ transactions and to turn this information over on demand. Work on the treaty proceeded nevertheless, and on November 23, 2001, the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention was signed by 30 states.

Additional protocols, covering terrorist activities and racist and xenophobic cybercrimes, were proposed in 2002. In addition, various national laws, such as the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, have expanded law enforcement’s power to monitor and protect computer networks.

Types of Cyber Crime

Cybercrime ranges across a spectrum of activities. At one end are crimes that involve fundamental breaches of personal or corporate privacy, such as assaults on the integrity of information held in digital depositories and the use of illegally obtained digital information to blackmail a firm or individual.

Also at this end of the spectrum is the growing crime of identity theft. Midway along the spectrum lie transaction-based crimes such as fraud, trafficking in child pornography, digital piracy, money laundering, and counterfeiting. These are specific crimes with specific victims, but the criminal hides in the relative anonymity provided by the Internet.

Another part of this type of crime involves individuals within corporations or government bureaucracies deliberately altering data for either profit or political objectives.

At the other end of the spectrum are those crimes that involve attempts to disrupt the actual workings of the Internet. These range from spam, hacking, and denial of service attacks against specific sites to acts of cyber terrorism—that is, the use of the Internet to cause public disturbances and even death.

Cyber terrorism focuses upon the use of the Internet by no state actors to affect a nation’s economic and technological infrastructure. Since the September 11 attacks of 2001, public awareness of the threat of cyber terrorism has grown dramatically.

Theories Of Devience

Sociological Theories to Explain Deviance:

Cultural Transmission/Differential Associations Theory  

 All behavior is learned; therefore deviant behavior is also learned. The theory focuses on the key variables involved in learning.  These variables are:

  1. Age of the “learner”
  2. Intensity of contact with the deviant “teacher”
  3. Ratio of “good” to “bad” social contacts in the “learner’s” life

Theory predicts that the younger the “learner” is, in an intense relationship with the deviant “teacher”, and the more contacts with significant others who are “deviant”, then the greater the likelihood the “learner” will also be deviant.  The reverse is also true.

Theory has both strengths and weaknesses.  Think about what they might be. 

Control Theory 

 This theory asks a different question than most of the others; it does not ask “why does someone commit deviance?” but rather control theory asks “why do most of us not commit deviance?” In other words, why do most of us, most of the time, act “correctly?”

The theory answers that question this way — that “normal behavior” is shaped by the power of social control mechanisms in our culture. Put differently, the social bonds that connect people help to keep us from committing deviance.

So what are the basic social factors/components of a social bond between individuals?

  1. Attachment — a measure of the connectedness between individuals
  2. Commitment — a measure of the stake a person has in the community
  3. Involvement — a measure of the time/energy a person is spending on activities that are helpful to the community
  4. Belief — a measure of the person’s support for the morals and beliefs of the community

The theory argues that there tends to be an inverse correlation between these factors and deviant behavior.  What does that mean?  Be able to explain it.

The theory has both strengths and weaknesses. Think about what they might be. 

Labeling Theory 

 (Note:  the title of “labeling theory” can be a bit misleading, so be careful here. Labeling theoristsdo not like labels, okay? But they say that labeling is a social fact, especially when we talk about social institutions like law enforcement, social service agencies, and mental health facilities. So therefore they study the power of labels in our society).  Also note that this theory combines two theoretical perspectives–conflict theory and symbolic interactionism. You should be able to explain what that last sentence means, okay?

The theory explains deviances as a social process whereby some people are able to define others as deviant. It emphasizes that the deviance is relative — it is not until a label is given to someone by someone else in a position of social power that the person actually “becomes” a deviant.

Has some important terms linked to the theory: 

Primary deviance — behavior that does not conform to the social norms, but the behavior might be temporary, fleeting, exploratory, trivial, or especially, concealed from most others. The person who commits the deviant act does not see him/herself as deviant; put differently, it is not internalized as a part of the person’s self concept

Secondary deviance — behavior that does not conform to the social norms, but 1) the behavior tends to be more sustained over time. The person continues to do the deviant behavior even afterbeing caught and labeled by a social institution. The person accepts the deviant label, incorporating it into the person’s self concept.

Deviant career — continued secondary deviance, that becomes one’s “job” and becomes one’s primary economic activity. Person accepts the deviant label.

Radical non-intervention:  labeling theory’s solution, at least to juvenile deviance. Has two parts:   1) preferably do not label anyone, but especially not a juvenile. Sociology knows that many adolescents reduce or stop their deviance as they become adults and accept adult statuses and roles.  So labeling them might in fact prevent that “becoming good” transition as they become adults, and 2) if anyone has to be labeled, label fairly — don’t “peak” and notice social class, race, sex, etc., and therefore label some individuals differently than others.

The theory has both strengths and weaknesses. Think about what they might be. 

Structural Strain Theory/Anomie Theory 

Theory explains deviance as the outcome of social strains due to the way the society is structured. For some people, the strain becomes overwhelming to the point where they do deviance as a way to manage the strain. Often their deviance is due to their feelings of anomie — meaningless due to not understanding how the social norms are to effect them.  This is usually because the norms are weak, confusing, or conflicting.

There is a social consensus in the society about socially approved goals that each person ought to strive for and the socially approved of means to attain those goals.  This consensus is largely due to a shared value system in the society.

Here is the theory’s famous set of options:

Name of Option  Socially Approved Goal Socially Approved Means

Theory has both strengths and weaknesses. Think of what they might be. 

Subcultural Theories 

 There are several subcultural theories, but they all “work” like this:   a person may be a member of a subculture within a larger culture; e.g., a member of a gang which lives inside of America.  In the subculture, a particular behavior may be “normal”/conforming behavior but from the perspective of the larger culture, the behavior is considered to be deviant.

Theory makes it clear we need to ask “who has the power to decide what is ‘normal’ and what deviant behavior is?”  These theories often are linked with labeling theory.

A person in such a subculture may feel role conflict or role strain trying to balance the norms of two very diverse groups of which one is a member

Theory has strengths and weaknesses. Think what they might be. 

Medicalization of Deviance

Theory argues that in the last 100+ years, there has been a shift in which social institution primary is associated with the labeling/”handling” of deviance and deviants. In earlier times in Western Europe and America, the religious institutions had the social power to define/label deviant behavior and to “treat” it (e.g., exorcisms, etc.). But now science and especially medicine as a subset of science has taken over much of the social control processing of deviants.

This shift, it is argued by those who support the theory, is a more humane way of understanding deviant behavior.  People are not “evil” but they are “sick.”  However, the “sick” label still has social consequences that “stick” to the person so labeled.  Some of these consequences are:

  1. It absolves one of responsibility for the deviant behavior
  2. There is little or no stigma (so the theory claims) to the label of sick    
  3. So long as the person fulfills the “sick role” appropriately, he or she is able to not receive a harsh negative label. But the sick role is a role and has a complicated behavioral set that the person has to follow or else. 
  4. The key part of the sick role is that one has to accept that medical perspective is “correct” and therefore anything prescribed by physicians must be done
  5. A more optimistic view of deviance

But there is also a “down” side to the medicalization of deviance.  What is it? 

I also expect you to recall from your Introduction to Sociology class or your Introduction to Social Problems class the following three theoretical perspectives in sociology and how they would discuss deviance.  If you feel unsure, check out the link below.

Which of the above theories that I wrote about would fit into which of these three theoretical perspectives?

  1. Structural Functionalism/”Order” Perspective
  2. Conflict Perspective
  3. Symbolic Interactionist Perspective, especially Goffman
  4. Symbolic Interactionist Perspective, especially Goffman 

White Collar Crime

Concept Of White-Collar Crime In India

Edwin Sutherland for first time coined the term “White-Collar crime” in his address to the American Sociological society in 1939.

The whole address was aimed to shatter the conventional and stereotyped images of the criminals as grown and brought up on the dark side of a town, and the belief that the epicenter of the overall Crime problem was that of the lower Strata of the society.

He defined white-collar crime as “crimes committed by a person of respectability and high social status into the course of his occupation”. Subsequently he modified his earlier definition of white-collar crime as “crimes committed by a person of the upper socio-economic class who violates the criminal law in the course of his occupational activities and Professional activities” and in his work he challenged the traditional image of the criminals and the predominant etiological theories of crimes of his days.

The white collar criminals, he identified were often middle aged men of respectability and high Social Status and his definition of white collate Crimes established Status, Occupation and Organization as Central features. He was of the opinion that White-Collar criminals were often found in the affluent neighbourhoods, and they were all well respected in the community.

Sutherland opined that the conceptions and notions of crime in his days were not so satisfactory or rather to say were “misleading and incorrect” which were mainly based on the “biased samples” of criminals and their criminal behaviours.

Prior to Sutherland, Scholars like W. A. Bonger (1916) EA Ross (1907) Sinclair (1906) and Steffens (1903), laid emphasis on the misdeeds by businessmen and elites.

Even before these scholars Edwin C. Hill laid emphasis on the Criminal behaviour of the elites in the American Congress in 1872 in his paper ‘Criminal Capitalists’ but the work of Sutherland was more pioneering rather compared to others.

As Prof. Hugh Barlow on White-Collar crime was of the opinion that White Collar crime is not only committed by the people of high social status in their occupational capacity but also is committed by the people of lower strata.

Thereafter Sutherland’s definition of White Collar crime faced a lot of criticisms as many Criminologists were of the opinion that Sutherland himself creates lots of confusion regarding the concept of White Collar Crime.

Sometimes he stressed crimes committed by individuals of high status, while at other times he stressed crimes carried out in the course of one’s occupation. He used various definitions and among them most frequently cited definition gained the importance of Occupational status as an important tool for the White Collar criminals.

The absence of a precise definition of White Collar crime has plagued Criminologists to analyze and interpret the concept of White Collar crime in their own manner. Subsequently it was very much advent that for some scholars, it was really very hard to accept ‘Position as primordial factor.

For that very reason today there exists profound disagreement over the precise definition of White Collar crime.

White Collar Crimes may be divided into Occupational Crime and Organizational Crime but in common parlance there exist 10 popular types of White Collar Crimes as :—

  1. Bank Fraud.— To engage in an act or pattern of activity where the purpose is to defraud a bank of funds.
  2. A demand for money under threat to do bodily harm, to injure property or to expose secrets.
  3. When money, goods, services or any information is offered with intent to influence the actions, opinions and decisions of the taker, constitutes bribery.
  4. Cellular Phone Fraud.—Unauthorized use or tampering or manipulating cellular phone services.
  5. When a person who has been entrusted with the money or property, appropriates it for his or her own purpose.
  6. Copies or imitates an item without having been authorized to do so.
  7. When a person passes false or worthless instruments such as cheque or counterfeit security with intent to defraud.
  8. Tax-Evasion.—Frequently used by the middle — class to have extra-unaccounted money.
  9. Adulteration of foods and drugs.
  10. Professional crime.—Crimes committed by medical practitioners, lawyers in course of their Occupation.

If there is an industry in which India has surpassed the developed west then it is the field of White Collar crimes. White collar crimes in India is not in total based on the theory propounded by Prof. Sutherland but partially on the concept by Prof. Hugh Barlow as “Crimes committed by the people of lower strata in their occupational status”.

In India White Collar crime means and includes manipulation of funds or in stock exchanges or misrepresentation in advertising or in financial statements of a corporation or violations of labour laws, copyright, patent laws etc. which is mainly ‘job oriented’ i.e. which occurs during the course of one’s occupation but assaulting a personal secretary by her boss will not constitute as White Collar crime.

While resorting to Sutherland it was very much advent that crimes committed by the people of ‘High Social Status’ will amount to White Collar crime. But in India the situation is totally different.

In India mostly White Collar crimes are committed by the people of lower social strata in their occupational capacity (by Prof. Barlow) as adulteration of milk by the milk man, selling adulterated food by the shopkeeper, selling expired medicine, taking out few kilos of gas from the cylinder and so on.

Gradually White Collar crimes acquired an established place within the society and with the introduction of famous license-quota-permit Raj in the earlier seventies it took a long strive forward to the increasing trend of White Collar criminality by giving tremendous power to the Trio as — the politicians, the bureaucrats and the businessmen.

These unholy three put their jaws in our administrative system in such a manner that it nurtured the total system of quasi corrupt Indian society to a complete corrupted one.

While resorting to White Collar crime in India Businessmen as a part of that unholy trio normally used to engage themselves in Tax Evasion and Tax avoidance or violation of the Foreign Exchange regulations by under invoicing of exports or by over invoicing of imports.

Traders in India were not so far behind in creating an irreparable damage to the society at large. They have mainly engaged themselves in hoarding, profiteering and black marketing of the essential commodities. Moreover sometimes for monetary gains they used to engage themselves in adulteration of foods which may turn dangerous to a person’s life.

To comment specifically on Indian traders for Black Marketing of the essential commodities, profiteering and Hoarding, Monopolies Inquiry Commission gave a graphic account of that in the following words as—

“There is hardly anybody in India who has not been a victim of the practice of hoarding, cornering and profiteering. Whenever there is a slight shortage — even temporary — in any consumer goods for which the demand is urgent and inelastic, almost every trader — it is perhaps unnecessary to use the qualification ‘almost’ — conceals his stock and blindly tells the customers that he has not got the commodity in stock…”

In the course of their research Prof. Hugh Barlow and Sutherland repeatedly pointed out that White Collar crime was more dangerous than any ordinary street crime because the financial loss to the society from White Collar crimes is probably greater than the financial loss from ordinary burglary, theft or robberies.

It was very much advent from their opinion that they were more concerned on the economic welfare of a country.

While computing the quantum of loss in India it was estimated that the average loss per theft or burglary is less than Rs. 5000/- or so is rare and the same amounted to lakh is unknown. But on the other hand embezzlement and frauds of lakhs and millions of rupees are very much advent.

Indian scholars took the after effect of loss happened from White Collar crimes very seriously as according to them without economic stability a country cannot stand up and for proper functioning of a state economic prosperity is very much necessary.

According to V. R. Krishna Iyer, J. “economic offences often are subtle murders practised on the community or sabotage of the national economy.” So it may be termed as the “White Collar Economic Offences”.

These economic offences can devastate an entire community rather than robbing a lone victim. Their impact can last for years, stealing crucial services or a lifetime’s savings through crimes invisible to their victims.

Subsequently thereafter Santhanam committee was asked to report on the misdeeds of the elites to that corruption can be traced. Santhanam committee gave a graphic account of the misdeeds of businessmen and industrialists in the following words :—

“Corruption can exist only if there is some one willing to corrupt and capable of corrupting. We regret to say that both these willingness and capacity to corrupt is found in a large measure in the industrial and the commercial classes…”

Santhanam committee found that during 1958-1962, licenses valued at millions of rupees were obtained or wrongfully utilized by nearly 700 firms through misrepresentation, forgery or other branches of the Export/Import control regulation.

Similarly, illegal accumulation of foreign exchange through just one type of fraud or through under invoicing of exports and over invoicing of imports, — is calculated to be estimated between Rs. 4050 crores every year.

Two instances of embezzlement and fraud as provided by a report made by Vivian Bose Commission are — Notorious Dalmia-Jain and Mundhra case in which loss amounted were estimated at Rs. 3.5 crore.

While dealing with the investigation of Mundhra case, Mr. M. C. Chagla made following observations as—

“Mundhra is a flamboyant personality and a financial adventurer whose only ambition is to build up an industrial empire by dubious means.”

In spite of the fact that a large number of economic offences have been unearthed in our country in the last five years as Securities Scam, Hawala Scam, Urea Scam, Sugar Scam, Banking Scam, TeleCommunication Scam, Fodder Scam, Stamp scam etc. and an effort from the government of appointing numerious Commissions as Vivian Bose Commission, BakshiTek Chand Committee, parliamentary committee on the jeep scandal, Railway corruption Inquiry Commission, Sadasivam committee of enquiry, S. R. Ray Commission of Inquiry, S. R. Das Commission, M.C. Chagla Committee and many more in which thousands of crores of rupees were involved, surprisingly no offenders have been convicted so far.

Are there really any remedies to curb these malpractices at the advent of our Welfare state? Why those obligations imposed on the state to achieve the status of welfare state are not implemented properly?

Restrictions imposed on the ownership and the distribution of the national wealth run from the following provisions of our Indian Constitution :—

“The state shall in particular direct its policy towards securing that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to sub serve the common goods; that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment”.

The above mentioned philosophy forced our law makers to pass certain legislations, violations of which may lead to tremendous fillip to White Collar criminals or occupational related crime in India which are :—

Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Industrial (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Import and

Export (Control) Act, 1947, Companies Act, 1956, Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act, 1973, Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, Income-tax Act, 1961, Customs Act, 1962. The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities and Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976.

Specifically, Section 4 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, where there is a presumption for instance, “that money received other than legal remuneration by a public servant is an illegal gratification”. They laid more emphasis on the workings of the public servant as they may use their occupational capacity to exploit the mass in general.

Subsequently on the report submitted by Santhanam committee certain legislations earlier enacted were amended as – Anti-Corruption Laws (Amendment) Act, 1964; Foreign Exchange (Amendment) Act, 1964; Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, Wealth Tax (Amendment) Act, 1964 and more powers have been conferred on the investigating officers and on the Magistrates for conducting the proceedings of the summary trials.

After Santhanam committee report was published it was very much advent that for the first time Anti White Collar legislations include Prevention of Food Adulteration Act because it is an act of mischief done by a person out of his occupational capacity and therefore it will also be termed as a White Collar crime.

The main object of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act is to eliminate the danger to the human life from the sale of unwholesome articles of food.

It is enacted to curb the widespread evil of food adulteration and is a legislative measure for social defence.

If we have specific legislations to trace out White Collar Criminality then why these offenders go unpunished? Main reasons for which these white Collar criminals or occupational criminals go unpunished are :— i) legislators and the law implementers belong to the same group or class to which these occupational criminals belong; ii) less police effort; iii) favorable laws; iv) less impact on individuals.

At this present juncture what we need is the strengthening of our enforcement agencies such as

Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, The Income-tax Department and the Customs Department. Concentration and distribution of national wealth must be done in a proper manner. Speedy trial should be arranged by appointing more Judges.

Central Vigilance Commission must keep a constant vigil on the workings of the top ranking officers.

General public must not avoid being engaged themselves in the prosecution of the White-collar criminals as the offence in general is directed towards them. Lastly if they are traced and proved guilty then Deterrent Theory of punishment is an apt one.

Property Crimes

Property crimes include many common crimes relating to theft or destruction of someone else’s property. They can range from lower level offenses such as shoplifting or vandalism to high level felonies including armed robbery and arson.

Some such crimes do not require the offender to make off with stolen goods or even to harm a victim – such as burglary, which only requires unlawful entry with the intent to commit a crime.

Others require the actual taking of money or property. Some, such as robbery, require a victim present at the time of the crime. Most property crimes include a spectrum of degrees depending on factors including the amount stolen and use of force or arms in theft related cases, and actual or potential bodily injury in property destruction crimes such as arson.

Below you’ll find more information on specific property crimes.

Learn About Property Crimes


Theft is the act of intentionally depriving someone of his or her property. Many states use the term to describe a wide number of property crimes, such as larceny and robbery.


One commits larceny by taking something of value without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the object. Most states use the term theft in place of larceny.


Burglary is the unlawful entry into a home or other closed structure, often by force or coercion, with the intent of stealing property from another or committing some other crime.


One commits robbery by using force or the threat of force to take money or property from another individual, such as pointing a gun at a bank teller and demanding cash.


Shoplifting is the theft or concealment of merchandise from a retail establishment without the intent to pay for it, such as placing items in one’s pocket and walking out of a store.


Arson is the intentional burning of almost any type of structure, building or forest land, with more severe degrees recognized if it causes bodily injury, or involves an inhabited building or intent to defraud insurers.

Organized Crime

Organised crime, and often criminal organizations are terms which categorise transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals, who intend to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit.

Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated. Sometimes criminal organizations force people to do business with them, as when a gang extorts money from shopkeepers for so-called “protection”.

Gangs may become disciplined enough to be considered organized. An organized gang or criminal set can also be referred to as a mob

Other organizations—including states, militaries, police forces, and corporations—may sometimes use organized crime methods to conduct their business, but their powers derive from their status as formal social institutions.

There is a tendency to distinguish organized crime from other forms of crimes, such as, white-collar crime, financial crimes, political crimes, war crime, state crimes and treason. This distinction is not always apparent and the academic debate is ongoing.

For example, in failed states that can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty, organised crime, governance and war are often complimentary to each other.

The term Parliamentary Mafiocracy is often attributed to democratic countries whose political, social and economic institutions are under the control of few families and business oligarchs

In the United States, the Organized Crime Control Act (1970) defines organized crime as “The unlawful activities of […] a highly organized, disciplined association  Criminal activity as a structured group is referred to as racketeering and such crime is commonly referred to as the work of the Mob.

In the UK, police estimate organized crime involves up to 38,000 people operating in 6,000 various groups

In addition, due to the escalating violence of Mexico’s drug war, the Mexican drug cartels are considered the “greatest organized crime threat to the United States” according to a report issued by the United States Department of Justice. 

Models of organized crime


The demand for illegal goods and services nurtures the emergence of ever more centralized and powerful criminal syndicates, who may ultimately succeed in undermining public morals, neutralizing law enforcement through corruption and infiltrating the legal economy unless appropriate countermeasures are taken.

This theoretical proposition can be depicted in a model comprising four elements: government, society, illegal markets and organized crime While interrelations are acknowledged in both directions between the model elements, in the last instance the purpose is to explain variations in the power and reach of organized crime in the sense of an ultimately unified organizational entity. 


Patron-client networks

Mafia boss Totò Riina behind bars in court after his arrest in 1993

Patron-client networks are defined by the fluid interactions they produce. Organized crime groups operate as smaller units within the overall network, and as such tend towards valuing significant others, familiarity of social and economic environments, or tradition. These networks are usually composed of:

  • Hierarchies based on ‘naturally’ forming family, social and cultural traditions;
  • ‘Tight-knit’ locus of activity/labor;
  • Fraternal or nepotistic value systems;
  • Personalized activity; including family rivalries, territorial disputes, recruitment and training of family members, etc.;
  • Entrenched belief systems, reliance of tradition (including religion, family values, cultural expectations, class politics, gender roles, etc.); and,
  • Communication and rule enforcement mechanisms dependent on organizational structure, social etiquette, history of criminal involvement, and collective decision-making

Bureaucratic/corporate operations

Bureaucratic/corporate organized crime groups are defined by the general rigidity of their internal structures. Focusing more on how the operations works, succeeds, sustains itself or avoids retribution, they are generally typified by:

  • A complex authority structure;
  • An extensive division of labor between classes within the organization;
  • Meritocratic (as opposed to cultural or social attributes);
  • Responsibilities carried out in an impersonal manner;
  • Extensive written rules/regulations (as opposed to cultural praxis dictating action); and, ‘Top-down’ communication and rule enforcement mechanisms.

However, this model of operation has some flaws:

  • The ‘top-down’ communication strategy is susceptible to interception, more so further down the hierarchy being communicated to;
  • Maintaining written records jeopardizes the security of the organization and relies on increased security measures;
  • Infiltration at lower levels in the hierarchy can jeopardize the entire organization (a ‘house of cards’ effect); and,
  • Death, injury, incarceration or internal power struggles dramatically heighten the insecurity of operations.

While bureaucratic operations emphasis business processes and strongly authoritarian hierarchies, these are based on enforcing power relationships rather than an overlying aim of protectionism, sustainability or growth

Youth and Street Gangs

A distinctive gang culture underpins many, but not all, organized groups; this may develop through recruiting strategies, social learning processes in the corrective system experienced by youth, family or peer involvement in crime, and the coercive actions of criminal authority figures.

The term “street gang” is commonly used interchangeably with “youth gang,” referring to neighborhood or street-based youth groups that meet “gang” criteria. Miller (1992) defines a street gang as “a self-formed association of peers, united by mutual interests, with identifiable leadership and internal organization, who act collectively or as individuals to achieve specific purposes, including the conduct of illegal activity and control of a particular territory, facility, or enterprise.” 

“Zones of transition” refer to deteriorating neighborhoods with shifting populationsconflict between groups, fighting, “turf wars”, and theft promotes solidarity and cohesionCohen (1955): working class teenagers joined gangs due to frustration of inability to achieve status and goals of the middle class; Cloward and Ohlin (1960): blocked opportunity, but unequal distribution of opportunities lead to creating different types of gangs (that is, some focused on robbery and property theft, some on fighting and conflict and some were retreatists focusing on drug taking); Spergel (1966) was one of the first criminologists to focus on evidencebased practice rather than intuition into gang life and culture. Klein (1971) like Spergel studied the effects on members of social workers’ interventions.

More interventions actually lead to greater gang participation and solidarity and bonds between members. Downes and Rock (1988) on Parker’s analysis: strain theory applies, labeling theory (from experience with police and courts), control theory (involvement in trouble from early childhood and the eventual decision that the costs outweigh the benefits) and conflict theories.

No ethnic group is more disposed to gang involvement than another, rather it is the status of being marginalized, alienated or rejected that makes some groups more vulnerable to gang formation, and this would also be accounted for in the effect of social exclusion, especially in terms of recruitment and retention.

These may also be defined by age (typically youth) or peer group influences, and the permanence or consistency of their criminal activity.

These groups also form their own symbolic identity or public representation which are recognizable by the community at large (include colors, symbols, patches, flags and tattoos).

Research has focused on whether the gangs have formal structures, clear hierarchies and leadership in comparison with adult groups, and whether they are rational in pursuit of their goals, though positions on structures, hierarchies and defined roles are conflicting.

Some studied street gangs involved in drug dealing – finding that their structure and behavior had a degree of organizational rationality Members saw themselves as organized criminals; gangs were formal-rational organizations, Strong organizational structures, well defined roles and rules that guided members’ behavior.

Also a specified and regular means of income (i.e. drugs). Padilla (1992) agreed with the two above.

However some have found these to be loose rather than well-defined and lacking persistent focus, there was relatively low cohesion, few shared goals and little organizational structur Shared norms, value and loyalties were low, structures “chaotic”, little role differentiation or clear distribution of labor.

Similarly, the use of violence does not conform to the principles behind protection rackets, political intimidation and drug trafficking activities employed by those adult groups.

In many cases gang members graduate from youth gangs to highly developed OC groups, with some already in contact with such syndicates and through this we see a greater propensity for imitation.

Gangs and traditional criminal organizations cannot be universally linked (Decker, 1998), however there are clear benefits to both the adult and youth organization through their association.

In terms of structure, no single crime group is archetypal, though in most cases there are well-defined patterns of vertical integration (where criminal groups attempt to control the supply and demand), as is the case in arms, sex and drug trafficking.

Individual difference


The entrepreneurial model looks at either the individual criminal, or a smaller group of organized criminals, that capitalize off the more fluid ‘group-association’ of contemporary organized crime

This model conforms to social learning theory or differential association in that there are clear associations and interaction between criminals where knowledge may be shared, or values enforced, however it is argued that rational choice is not represented in this.

The choice to commit a certain act, or associate with other organized crime groups, may be seen as much more of an entrepreneurial decision – contributing to the continuation of a criminal enterprise, by maximizing those aspects that protect or support their own individual gain.

In this context, the role of risk is also easily understandable, however it is debatable whether the underlying motivation should be seen as true entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship as a product of some social disadvantage.

The criminal organization, much in the same way as one would assess pleasure and pain, weighs such factors as legal, social and economic risk to determine potential profit and loss from certain criminal activities.

This decision-making process rises from the entrepreneurial efforts of the group’s members, their motivations and the environments in which they work.

Opportunism is also a key factor – the organized criminal or criminal group is likely to frequently reorder the criminal associations they maintain, the types of crimes they perpetrate, and how they function in the public arena (recruitment, reputation, etc.) in order to ensure efficiency, capitalization and protection of their interests. 

Multi Model Approach

Culture and ethnicity provide an environment where trust and communication between criminals can be efficient and secure. This may ultimately lead to a competitive advantage for some groups, however it is inaccurate to adopt this as the only determinant of classification in organized crime.

This categorization includes the Sicilian Mafia, Jamaican posses, Colombian drug trafficking groups, Nigerian organized crime groups, Corsican mafia, Japanese Yakuza (or Boryokudan), Korean criminal groups and ethnic Chinese criminal groups.

From this perspective, organized crime is not a modern phenomenon – the construction of 17th and 18th century crime gangs fulfill all the present day criteria of criminal organizations (in opposition to the Alien Conspiracy Theory).

These roamed the rural borderlands of central Europe embarking on many of the same illegal activities associated with today’s crime organizations, with the exception of money laundering.

When the French revolution created strong nation states, the criminal gangs moved to other poorly controlled regions like the Balkans and Southern Italy, where the seeds were sown for the Sicilian Mafia – the lynchpin of organized crime in the New World

Sex Crimes

Deals with the regulation by law of sexual activity. Sex laws vary from place to place, and have varied over time, and unlawful sexual acts in a jurisdiction are also called sex crimes.

Some laws regulating sexual activity are intended to protect one or all participants, while others are intended to proscribe a morally, socially or religiously repugnant activity.

For example, a law may proscribe unprotected sex if one person knows that he or she has a sexual disease or to protect a minor; or it may proscribe non-consensual sex, or because of a relationship between the participants, etc. In general, laws may proscribe acts which are considered either sexual abuse or behavior that societies consider to be inappropriate and against the social norms.

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual contact between two or more adults or two or more minors, and, depending on laws with regard to age of consent, sexual contact between an adult and a minor.


Sex crimes are forms of human sexual behavior that are crimes. Someone who commits one is said to be a sex offender. Some sex crimes are crimes of violence that involve sex. Others are violations of social taboos, such as incest, sodomy, indecent exposure or exhibitionism.

There is much variation among cultures as to what is considered a crime or not, and in what ways or to what extent crimes are punished.

Western cultures are often far more tolerant of acts, such as oral sex, that have traditionally been held to be crimes in some cultures, but combine this with lesser tolerance for the remaining crimes. By contrast, many cultures with a strong religious tradition consider a far broader range of activities to be serious crimes.

As a general rule, the law in many countries often intervenes in sexual activity involving young or adolescent children below the legal age of consent, non-consensual deliberate displays or illicit watching of sexual activity, sex with close relatives (incest), harm to animals, acts involving the deceased (necrophilia), and also when there is harassment, nuisance, fear, injury, or assault of a sexual nature, or serious risk of abuse of certain professional relationships.

Separately, the law usually regulates or controls the censorship of pornographic or obscene material as well. A rape charge can only be issued when a person(s) of any age does not provide consent for sexual activity.

Possible enforcement

The activities listed below carry a condition of illegality in some jurisdictions if acted upon, though they may be legally role-played between consenting partners of legal age:

  • Rape, lust murder and other forms of sexual assault and sexual abuse
  • Child sexual abuse

  • Statutory rape

  • Spousal rape

  • Obscenity

  • Human trafficking

  • Frotteurism, sexual arousal through rubbing one’s self against a nonconsenting stranger in public

  • Exhibitionism and voyeurism, if deliberate and non-consensual, called “indecent exposure” and “peeping tom” respectively in this context. Incest between close relatives
  • Telephone scatologia, making obscene telephone calls for the purpose of sexual arousal
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual acts by people in a position of trust (such as teachers, doctors and police officers), towards people under 18 which they are involved with professionally.
  • Public order crimes are crimes that interrupt the flow of daily life and business according to local community standards. Public order crimes include paraphilia (deviancies). Various paraphilias and sexual fetishes such as transvestitism
  • Prostitution and/or pimping

  • Ownership of vibrators and other sex toys

  • Public urination

  • Streaking

  • Sodomy

  • Stealing underwear, sometimes regarded as more serious when done in a sexual context.

  • Sex with animals
  • Necrophilia

A variety of laws aim to protect children by making various acts with children a sex crime. For example, the “corruption of minors” by introducing age-inappropriate material, esp. of a sexual nature, is often a misdemeanor but can lead to a felony charge.

These can include Age of Consent laws, laws preventing the exposure of children to pornography, laws making it a crime for a child to be involved in (or exposed to) certain sexual behaviors, and laws against child grooming and the production and ownership of child pornography (sometimes including simulated images).

In some countries such as the UK, the age for child pornography is higher than the age of consent, hence child pornography laws also cover images involving consenting adults.

Non-consensual sadomasochistic acts may legally constitute assault, and therefore belong in this list. In addition, some jurisdictions criminalize some or all sadomasochistic acts, regardless of legal consent and impose liability for any injuries caused. (See Consent (BDSM))

Age of consent

While the phrase “age of consent” typically does not appear in legal statutes when used in relation to sexual activity, the age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered to be legally competent of consenting to sexual acts. This should not be confused with the age of majority, age of criminal responsibility, or the marriageable age.

The age of consent varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The median seems to range from 16 to 18 years, but laws stating ages ranging from 9 to 21 do exist.

In many jurisdictions, age of consent is interpreted to mean mental or functional age. As a result, victims can be of any chronological age if their mental age is below the age of consent. 

Some jurisdictions forbid sexual activity outside of legal marriage completely. The relevant age may also vary by the type of sexual act, the sex of the actors, or other restrictions such as abuse of a position of trust. Some jurisdictions may also make allowances for minors engaged in sexual acts with each other, rather than a hard and fast single age.

Charges resulting from a breach of these laws may range from a relatively low-level misdemeanor such as “corruption of a minor”, to “statutory rape” (which is considered equivalent to rape, both in severity and sentencing).


Incest is illegal in many jurisdictions. The exact legal definition of “incest,” including the nature of the relationship between persons, and the types sexual activity, varies by country, and by even individual states or provinces within a country. These laws can also extend to marriage between subject individuals.

Female genital mutilation

Custom and tradition are the most frequently cited reasons for female genital mutilation (FGM), with the practices often being performed to exert control over the sexual behavior of girls and women or as a perceived aesthetic improvement to the appearance of their genitalia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of many health organizations that have campaigned against the procedures on behalf of human rights, stating that “FGM has no health benefits” and that it is “a violation of the human rights of girls and women” and “reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes”.

Most countries prohibit female genital mutilation including prohibiting the procedure to be performed on its citizens and residents while outside their jurisdictions and the New York State Penal Law lists female genital mutilation as a sexual offense.

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