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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Essay on Culture Deviance Theory - Why Public Policy is an Expression of Dominant Culture

Essay on Culture Deviance Theory - Why Public Policy is an Expression of Dominant Culture

            Crime is a social aberration which disrupts the normal functioning of the society.  It is something that is not tolerated and considered abnormal.  Law enforcement officers cannot find solution to crime unless they first understand its root cause.  Many psychologists have attempted to explain the different root causes of crime.  Some consider it as a willful act calculated to benefit the perpetrator to the prejudice of another.  Some consider crime as a failure of the society to control its members.  On the other hand, some consider crime as a normal process which is the result of the struggle for dominance of different social groups. 
            The Culture Deviance Theory, Thorsten Sellin and Culture Conflict, Walter Miller's Theory of Low-class Culture Conflict in essence speaks about the inevitability of crime.  They explain crime as a normal occurrence in a society that is characterized by cultural diversity..  According to the Culture Deviance Theorists, when a group of people flock to a new society, they carry with them their own sets of values and culture. (Michelle Calderon, 2005, p.1)  Their own values and culture oftentimes are different from the existing values and culture of their new society.  The new groups of people oftentimes fail to adjust to the existing society’s values.  They fail to replace their old values with those that are new and accepted in their new society.  As a result, crime happens.  For example, the presence of gangs is widely prevalent among the Latino members of our society.   They often clash with police authorities because of their inability to adjust to the existing culture. 
            According to Thorsten Sellin’s Culture Conflict Theory, cultural diversity dictates which acts are considered crimes and which are not. (Robert Keel p1)  In a society there are dominant groups and there are the dominated groups.  They are always in struggle for domination.  The dominant group seeks to maintain status quo in the society while the dominated group seeks to overturn the status quo.  Our laws are merely a reflection of the will of the dominant cultural or ethnic groups. 
One of the more common examples is the presence of white-collar crimes.  If we try to conduct an interview in the United States and ask the people on whom they think should be meted the harsher penalty, a person who robs a bank or a person who commits computer fraud.  The answer we will most probably elicit from most of the people is that the bank robber should be meted the harsher penalty.  This is because the culture of the dominant groups dictates which acts are considered crimes. 
            Studies show that one in three American households has been a victim of white-collar crime, yet just 41% actually report it. (Richard Johnston, 2002, p. 1)  Further, statistics estimated that white-collar and corporate crime accounted for $10 for every one dollar lost to robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft combined. This just shows that these kinds of crime are happening in our country yet very few are being prosecuted, convicted and punished for these crimes. 
            The problem is compounded by the fact that the judicial system does not consider white collar-crimes as serious enough to warrant the imposition of a stricter penalty.  In “White –Collar Plea Bargaining and Sentencing after Booker,” it described the disparity of treatment and application of the law insofar as white collar offenders and blue collar offenders are concerned.  It states that blue collar offenders who have stolen a particular amount of money are more likely to receive tougher and stiffer penalty compared to the white collar offenders who have stolen the same amount.  (Bibas Stephanos 2) It also states that white-collar offenders are more likely to receive plea bargaining and have more chances of being granted probation.  (Bibas Stephanos 2)  This emphasizes the public perception on the issue of white-collar crimes that it is less serious and less grave compared to the blue collar crimes. 
            The reason is obvious.  It is the people within the dominant culture who define what acts are considered crimes and provide for their penalty, they oftentimes provide heavier punishment to those crimes ordinarily committed by those in the dominated culture such as robbery or theft.  

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