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True Crime or Moral Panic - Sociological Case Study

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SY3 CASE STUDY - True Crime or Moral Panic

Crime and deviance is present is all societies and has been throughout generations, and there are differing explanations for their existence through the various sociological approaches.

Functionalism views society as a system of connected parts. Emile Durkheim (1982) saw crime in society as a stable system based on value consensus, norms and values which a society has established. Durkheim saw the need for some crime as an inevitable, normal and even necessary part of that system, and although it can disrupt social stability, it also performs some positive functions. One of these positives is boundary maintenance, and how crime produces a reaction from society against the wrong-doer which in turn reinforces their commitment to the value consensus (historylearningsite.co.uk, 2009). Criticisms of Durkheim's view on crime is how he failed to explain how much deviance is needed for society to function, and that just because crime has a function, it doesn't mean society is creating crime for the purpose of that function. Even how this 'necessity' doesn’t feel right for the victims (Jones, 2014). Conflict theories such as Marxism disagree with functionalism about crime being necessary, but instead suggest it is an inequality between the ruling and working class. Although Marx did not talk at length about crime, he did believe that laws were codified. Where one class kept the other classes in check through policing inconsistency which is biased towards the ruling class. He believed different social classes are policed differently, with the working classes being heavily policed and therefore raising the chances of their crime being detected, compared to less policed white collar crimes committed by the ruling class. (historylearningsite.co.uk,2009). Criticism of conflict/Marxist theory is how it seems to ignore the individual motivation, how the stress is placed primarily upon capitalism, and how economic factors force people to act. Marxism also argues that in a communist society there would be no crime. However history has shown that crime has not been eliminated in communist countries such as China, or the USSR (Haralambos and Holborn 2004).
Whilst these theories tend to focus on societies structure in relation to crime, symbolic internationalism tends to consider the micro level.
The Interactionalists perspective believe crime and deviance is learned through interactions with others. No act is deviant by nature, but it depends on the reaction of different members of society in different contexts and situations. As Howard Becker (QUOTE) said "an action is only criminal or deviant when others label is as such". He believed that deviance occurs when one group, which normally lacks power, behaves in a certain way. Then another group with more power responds negatively to this, labelling it as criminal. This belief conflicts with structural functionalist and conflict theory since it focusses on how the individual reacts in a situation rather than people reacting to society (Jones, 2014). and how a certain group of people hold power over other groups. In this case creating laws and rules, and enforcing these rules against less powerful and stereotyped social groups.

This case study is looking at UK Terrorism as my chosen criminal act. Terrorism comes in many forms, and shapes. Within the last 10 years there have been 14 terrorist acts committed, with over 16 foiled attempts, of which (gov.uk, 2015) . This essay will study sociological sub theories which will help try to understand why terrorism occurs. It will conclude by recognising whether 'true crime' or 'moral panic' best describes terrorism.

Sec 3. - Critically evaluating sub theories of terrorism.
Functionalism - Anomie

Functionalist Durkheim (1982) defines Anomie as the instability in societies or individuals resulting from a breakdown of norms and values, or from a lack of purpose or ideals. These individuals lose connection to the society around them, and often reject their social responsibility and social bonds. In the context of terrorism, these social systems become disorientated and replace these values with insecurity and fear. The negative repercussions can potentially dissolve a community into a mass of anomic individuals, each concerned only with their personal survival. To date, around 500 UK citizens who have travelled to Syria and Iraq have joined terrorist organizations (www.gov.uk). Fraser Nelson at The Telegraph helps explain this phenomena, an ever growing statistic with how social media has become the biggest jihadist recruitment medium (www.telegraph.co.uk). Whilst this doesn’t account for all reasons of terrorist anomie it does reveal how some impressionable young adults are 'brainwashed' by the perceived glamour of Jihadist extremism. Criticisms of Anomie is that it ignores the crimes of the wealthy and powerful, which are better addressed in conflict theories and how it doesn't explain conformity of communities (fairobserver.com, 2014). It does however give a good example supporting the functionalist perspective.

However, acts of terrorism lead to a stronger social bonding within the victims, creating an external conflict/internal cohesion process (Markides & Cohn, 1982). In the events after 9/11,

Conflict Theory - Criminal Subculture
Sociologists Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin (1966) define that a criminal subculture is created when a community or group experience frustration and dissatisfaction of their social standing, and so reject societies norms in favour of a criminal culture. A terrorist criminal subculture can be formed because of many different motivations, yet in relation to UK terrorist extremism, one theory further supporting anomie is a hatred of Western society and globalization. Merton (YEAR) studied how Globalization creates a rich-poor dichotomy. How equality is impossible due to the social class structure. From this perspective, then, rich people are part of the causal factor or root cause of terrorism, since they contribute to the conditions which give rise to it. globalization theory holds that if the oppressed and disgruntled poor people of the world were given the same opportunity, terrorism would not exist (Nassar, 2004). A criticism of subculture theory is that it is a reactive one - explaining how deviant subcultures form in reaction to their own personal wealth. However this wrongly assumes that everyone shares these capitalist values (QUOTE )

Symbolic Interactionalism - Labelling Theory
Howard Becker (1963) defines labelling theory as "Social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and by applying those rules to a particular group, labelling them as deviant". One aspect of this in relation to terrorism could be the negative stereotypes many Muslim people face today. Labour's counter-terrorism advice sought to distance terrorism from Islam, but in doing so actually created an imagined relationship that potentially alienates those who follow the Islamic faith. This study works within the framework of labelling theory to demonstrate that the state's counter-terrorism advice was detrimental to its own goals (bbc.co.uk). This evidence is supported further by first Muslim 'Miss England' Hammasa Kohistani. She noticed the divide of cultures in her own community "The attitude towards Muslims has got worse over the years. Also the Muslims' attitude to British people has got worse.Even moderate Muslims are turning to terrorism to prove themselves. They think they might as well support it because they are stereotyped anyway" (theguardian.com). Labelling theory differs from both the conflict and functionalist perspective. Where they see deviance creates a need for social control, labelling theorists see control producing further deviance. A criticism is how this labelling could effect the Muslim community, and how it could potentially be deterministic and a self fufilling prophecy for some, turning more of the Muslim community as mentioned above by Kohistani down a path of terrorism.

Sec 4. -MORAL PANIC

The concept of moral panic is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "An instance of public anxiety or alarm in response to a problem regarded as threatening the moral standards of society" (Oxforddictionaries.com, 2015). Stanley Cohen discovered with his 'mods and rockers' study the difficulty with media reaction is it is often exaggerated and taken out of context, leading the public reaction which is disproportionate to the act. The increased coverage led to more young people getting involved, ultimately raising the public's fear levels further (timeshighereducation.co.uk, 2010). This is a perfect example of how the media are integral in the circle of events which lead to a moral panic. Applying this theory to terrorism, there is a wealth of evidence to suggest the world's media have contributed to a moral panic. The events of 11 September 2001 in New York and 7 July 2005 were some of the most horrific seen in the western world. The US, backed by the UK declared the 'War on terror' and has spent over 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting extremists. Critics have argued the western media has constructed Muslims within a narrower and more negative framework (Poole, 2006). This is exemplified through the vilification of Muslims with several media outlets using 'us' and 'them' logics to frame the issues (The Daily Mail, 2006), to the perceived threat Islam poses to society: "Whites being lured into Islamic terror" (The Telegraph,2006). Hyperbole feeds moral hysteria and fear mongering. Whilst the media are integral in creating moral panic, the emergence of the internet and social media has allowed for individuals to seek independent research and opinion forums and so perhaps the media is not as crucial as guiding opinions as it was in the heyday of Cohen. Positive steps have been made by The Guardian newspaper also, with calls to the government for an inquiry into the disproportionate and distroted negative trends towards media coverage of the Muslim Community.ccording to a recent ComRes poll, one in three people in Britain today believe that the media is responsible for "whipping up a climate of fear of Islam in the UK" (comres.com, 2012).

After comparing sub theories of crime and deviance, I feel all have a tangible link to terrorism which often fall under hugely broad field of theories and study which just aren't able to fit into this case study - Religion and Government abuse of power being just two. No matter what the catalyst of these actions, terrorist acts are universally considered criminal, and can strike anywhere around the globe with little prejudice. For this reason it is considered to be a moral panic. However, we as society need to tread carefully with how the media have marginalised large ethnic communities in the light extremist's actions. Now more than ever, the global society needs to stand united against a threat which is ultimately selfish, destructive, and pure evil.

Iserali Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported this recently after atrocities in France, stating how "extremists continue to desire destruction of our societies and uproot civilization based on freedom, replacing it with tyranny and fear." (www.jpost.com).

In all instances of terrorism, a structural environment characterized by a significant imbalance of power between different ideological groups must exist. Black (2004:17). Th

According to Aurore Wahlin from the London-based think tank Centre for European Reform, Muslims throughout Europe also face religious intolerance and xenophobia induced by fears of terrorism and globalisation (The Guardian, 9 November 2005)

REFERENCE LIST Benjamin Netanyahu: Terrorists trying to destroy western civilization - Israel News - Jerusalem Post . 2015. Benjamin Netanyahu: Terrorists trying to destroy western civilization - Israel News - Jerusalem Post . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Netanyahu-Terrorists-trying-to-destroy-western-civilization-387023. [Accessed 24 February 2015].
Black, D. (2004) “The Geometry of Terrorism.” Sociological Theory 22 (1): 14- 25.
BBC NEWS | UK | 'End Muslim stereotype' - Charles. 2015. BBC NEWS | UK | 'End Muslim stereotype' - Charles. [ONLINE] Available at:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2567045.stm. [Accessed 25 February 2015].
Child Poverty: The Breeding Ground for ‘Feral, Parasitic Yob[s]’? | Sociology Compass. 2008. Child Poverty: The Breeding Ground for ‘Feral, Parasitic Yob[s]’? | Sociology Compass. [ONLINE] Available at:http://sociology-compass.com/2008/11/28/child-poverty-the-breeding-ground-for-%E2%80%98feral-parasitic-yobs%E2%80%99/. [Accessed 06 February 2015].

ComRes. 2012. [ONLINE] Available at: http://comres.co.uk/poll/499/ahmadiyya-muslim-association-uk-islamophobia-survey.htm. [Accessed 25 February 2015].
Counter terrorism statistics - GOV.UK. 2015. Counter terrorism statistics - GOV.UK. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/counter-terrorism-statistics. [Accessed 22 February 2015].
Counter Terrorism and Security Bill unveiled - News stories - GOV.UK. 2015. Counter Terrorism and Security Bill unveiled - News stories - GOV.UK. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/counter-terrorism-and-security-bill-unveiled. [Accessed 24 February 2015].

Costs of War. 2015. Home | Costs of War. [ONLINE] Available at:http://costsofwar.org/. [Accessed 22 February 2015].

Crime and Deviance. 2014. Crime and Deviance. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/crime_deviance.htm. [Accessed 06 February 2015].

Durkheim, E., 1982. The Rules Of Sociological Method. 3rd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 45-47, 123-126.
Hidden Agenda Behind “War on Terror”: The Conquest of Oil, Gas, Water and Vital Resources | Global Research. 2015. Hidden Agenda Behind “War on Terror”: The Conquest of Oil, Gas, Water and Vital Resources | Global Research. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/hidden-agenda-behind-war-on-terror-the-conquest-of-oil-gas-water-and-vital-resources/28394. [Accessed 23 February 2015].

Haralambos, M, Holborn, M, (2004), Sociology, Themes and Perspectives, 6th Edition, Collins Educational, London
Jones, R. (2014) Crime and deviance - interactionalist perspective [ONLINE]http://www.slideshare.net/RSJones/crime-and-deviance-interactionalist-approach Accessed (22/02/2015)
Marxism and Crime. 2015. Marxism and Crime. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/marxism_crime.htm. [Accessed 13 February 2015].

Markides, K. C., & Cohn, S. F. (1982). External conflict/internal cohesion: A reevaluation of an old theory. American Sociological Review, 47, 88–98.
Muslim women: beyond the stereotype | Life and style | The Guardian. 2015. Muslim women: beyond the stereotype | Life and style | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/apr/29/muslim-women-fighting-islamic-extremism. [Accessed 25 February 2015].

moral panic - definition of moral panic in English from the Oxford dictionary. 2015. moral panic - definition of moral panic in English from the Oxford dictionary. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/moral-panic. [Accessed 25 February 2015].
Nassar, J. (2004). Globalization and terrorism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Terrorism in the UK: Social media is now the biggest jihadi training camp of them all - Telegraph. 2015. Terrorism in the UK: Social media is now the biggest jihadi training camp of them all - Telegraph. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10786205/Terrorism-in-the-UK-Social-media-is-now-the-biggest-jihadi-training-camp-of-them-all.html. [Accessed 24 February 2015].
The Canon: Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers. By Stanley Cohen | General | Times Higher Education. 2015. The Canon: Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers. By Stanley Cohen | General | Times Higher Education. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/books/the-canon-folk-devils-and-moral-panics-the-creation-of-the-mods-and-rockers-by-stanley-cohen/410619.article. [Accessed 25 February 2015].
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...Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness Author(s): Mark Granovetter Source: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 91, No. 3 (Nov., 1985), pp. 481-510 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2780199 . Accessed: 18/10/2013 11:39 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . The University of Chicago Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Journal of Sociology. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 158.143.192.135 on Fri, 18 Oct 2013 11:39:24 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness' Mark Granovetter State University of New York at Stony Brook How behavior and institutions are affected by social relations is one of the classic questions of social theory. This paper concerns the extent to which economic action is embedded in structures of social relations, in modern industrial society. Although the usual......

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Drug Addiction

...CHAPTER 2. A HISTORY OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE IN AMERICA Written by: Tammy L. Anderson To appear in: Harrison, L., Anderson, T., Martin, S., and Robbins, C. Drug and Alcohol Use in Social Context. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing -1- A HISTORY OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IN THE UNITED STATES Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to review the history of drug use and its social control in the United States so that students can gain an improved and thorough understanding of today’s problems and policies. Our approach to this matter is sociological, i.e., exploring how the interconnection between culture, social institutions, groups, and individuals function to create drug-related phenomena. A sociological approach integrates many kinds of social, cultural, political, and economic factors that manifest themselves in everyday life. While pharmacology helps us comprehend how specific drugs impact brain activity, sociology can inform us about the social roots of drugrelated behaviors which ultimately shape beliefs and behavior and motivate social policy. Therefore, a review of drug use in the U.S. and the social response to it must consider many diverse phenomena. This broader framework will move us beyond domestic borders and into the international community, for the history of drug abuse is an international, socio-political marvel. Another idea warrants mentioning before we begin our history lesson. It centers on the idea that drug use and abuse are......

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