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Evaluate sociological explanations of gender differences in crime.
Applying material from Item B and your own knowledge, evaluate sociologicalexplanations for gender differences in patterns of crimR
⅕ convicted offenders are female, meaning men are significantly more likely to commit crime. The type of crime committed between sexes also differs. Women are more likely to commit non-violent and property crimes, while men tend to commit more serious crimes eg murder. However, as I will explore in the essay, some of these statistics could potentially be misleading- female crime can often go unreported and thus is not registered officially.

As mentioned in the item, ‘four out of five crimes committed... by men’. A potential explanation of this disproportionate statistic is control theory. Carlen utilised unstructured interviews to investigate 39 women, all convicted of a range of crimes e.g. theft or fraud, and found most convicts were working class. Carlen explained this finding via Hirschi's control theory- the idea that women are offered a ‘deal’ of rewards in return for conforming to social norms. Women are generally led through the premise of two separate deals- the class deal, where women will be offered material rewards, and the gender deal in which the patriarchal ideology promises emotional rewards by conforming to the traditional housewife role. This explains why statistically, men commit more crime, as most women will benefit from such deals and thus not have a need to find illegitimate ways to a decent living. It also explains why wc women commit more crime, as they have nothing to gain from the likes of class deals. However, this emphasises heavily on crime committed in the wc, so the theory could be seen as deterministic.

A feminist point of view would argue women commit less crime due to the
Patriarchy. Heidensohn notes how a woman's behavior is more conformist than that of an average man. She argues this is the result of patriarchal control, which imposes regulation over women and reduces their opportunities to offend. In the house, women's domestic role confines them indoors due to the constant rounds of housework and childcare needed. Dobash and Dobash show how men also utilise domestic violence as a form of control, as well as financial power. Levels of control are also prominent in the workplace and in public, due to the potential threat of sexual assault or other forms of male violence, which keeps women ‘in their place.’ Therefore, such patriarchal restrictions lead to less women committing crime simply because it reduces their opportunity. Hence, this suggests why men commit more crime than women. However, such control could have an adverse effect, and potentially encourage crime.

Assuming this theory is correct, it would seem logical for as patriarchal norms start to lose their influence, women will commit more crime. This is the liberation thesis put forward by Adler. She argues as women become liberated from the patriarchy, their crimes become as frequent and serious as mens. The item states ‘rate of female criminality has been understated’. In modern day, due to reduced patriarchal controls and the lessening of discrimiation, women are starting to commit more crime, and also committing more ‘male’ offenses such as white collar crimes. This is due to greater opportunities in education, and a more ‘symmetrical family’ (Young and Willmott) meaning women are working more and being treated more equally. Thus, due to this new found confidence as a result of access to higher positions due to less weight on patriarchal norms, women now have greater opportunity to commit crime, and explains why crime rate amongst women has increased from 1 in 7 (1950s) to 1 in 6 (1990s). However, radical feminists would disagree and argue that patriarchal norms still oppress women, and therefore Adlers claims are over exaggerated.

As mentioned in the Item, many blame a ‘chivalry thesis for the reason men appear more criminal than women’. The thesis argues that criminal justice agents e.g. police officers are socialized in a way so that they act ‘chivalrous’ towards women. Pollak argues men behave in such a protective manner as ‘men hate to accuse women and thus send them to their punishment’. Evidence comes from Hood, who found in a study of 3000 defendants, found women were less likely to be jailed in similar cases. Therefore, the criminal justice system is more lenient towards women, and thus are less likely to end up in official statistics. This approach ultimately suggests that men do not commit more crime than women- but rather male crime is simply recorded more- a ‘dark figure’. However, there is a fair share of evidence against the chivalry thesis. The likes of self report studies suggest that men do in fact commit more crime, with young men being more likely to be reported for binge drinking, illegal drugs, or taking part in discorderly conduct.

Other sociologists claim men do in fact commit more crime than women, due to masculinity being seen as a social construct or accomplishment. Messerschmitt argues men have to constantly work on and construct their masculinity to present themselves to others.Though different masculinities do exist, the ‘hegemonic masculinity’ dominates society. It is defined under multiple quotas, such as work in the paid labour market, the subordination of women, and heterosxism. To Messerschmidt, crime and deviance is a tool many men may use to accomplish masculinity. This, as mentioned in the item, could lead to the embarking of ‘criminal careers’. For example, Black lower working class youth have few expectations of a reasonable job, so may use gang membership and violence to express their masculinity, or turn to theft for material success. This approach suggests men commit more crime than women due to a desire to be masculine, when not achievable legitimately. However, he overworks the concept of masculinity to explain virtually all male crime, which is untrue. White collar crimes such as embezzlement, are usually committed for material need, not with the intention of appearing more masculine.

Another argument that suggests men do commit more crime is due to societal changes. In recent decades, globalisation has led to a shift from a modern industrial society, to a postmodern de-industrialised society. Consequently, many traditional manual jobs in which working class men were able to express their masculinity via hard physical labor have disappeared. Opposite to this is the expansion of the service sector, such as night time employment, which has provided wc men with legal employment but also lucrative criminal opportunities. For example, Winslow's study of bouncers in Sunderland found they were granted access to a number of illegal business ventures in the likes of the drug market. To maintain employability, the men must use bodily capital, such as taking part in bodybuilding to show off their physical assets.This further increases crime rate amongst males as it allows for the use of harsher violence in fights. Therefore, the societal change of moving to a postmodern society has enabled new and more criminal opportunities for men, hence why as mentioned in the item ‘men are more likely to be repeat offenders’.

To conclude, It is evident to say a dark figure surrounds the rate of female criminality due to the likes of the chivalry thesis. However, men likely still dominate criminal acts due to greater opportunity, and women still being limited by patriarchal norms.

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