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How Far Do Recorded Crime Rates Show How Much Crime Occurs in Society?

  • Date Submitted: 11/18/2010 06:57 AM
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How far do recorded crime rates show how much crime occurs in society?

      The recorded crime rates only show part of the crimes actually taking place (Mooney et al., 2004, p.7-9) . There are a number of reasons and limitation that explain that.
      Firstly what is crime to us might not be a crime actually in law.
      Also it really matters whether we look it from the legal or normative perspective. The legal perspective is the one when we break the laws of the state whereas the normative is about breaking the widely accepted codes of social behaviour or when criminal act is judged against the moral norms like the religious beliefs.

      The way we think about crime might vary over time and place. The possession of cannabis for instance wasn’t a crime in the past when it was used in Victorian pharmacies and is not crime now in some parts of Netherlands.
      Some previously accepted behavior might become a crime-like fox hunting. And crimes might stop to be crimes.   So in other words many legally defined crimes can be legitimate when put in different context.

      When we look how much crime is in society we have to note that between an act and conviction there is a long and complex path.
      Firstly it depends whether or not an event will be observed and by whom.
      Secondly it depends on the individual choice to report it or not.
      Further the process from reporting and   the police deciding whether a crime has been committed is complex one and depends on the individual preferences of the actors involved for example, see the flowchart in Mooney et al., 2004, p. 8).

      To sum up what we count as a crime is a complex social process of social interactions between many individuals, and can change over period of time.
      Thus we can see this may be why the recorded crime rates do not show how much crime occurs in society. This is what social scientists describe as the ‘social construction’ of crime (Mooney et al., 2004, p....

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