The essay question is:
If ‘crime’ is a contested concept, assess the extent to which definitions and measures of ‘crime’ reflect harm. Within your answer, consider the significance of state power to define ‘crime’ and the ‘criminal’.
The question asks you to cover:
The question invites you to develop an argument on:
Intro & first paragraph/s
Explain why crime is a contested concept – The definition of crime is very subjective. Discuss how it is constructed in differents ways by different people at different times: establish the concept of crime, how it might be constructed legally, socially, morally (for instance, state & institutions definition of crime vs members of the publics opinion of crime) Discuss how crime is a part of the context of a particular point in time or a particular place. Explain how crime is defined globally, locally. Crime is understood different by everybody as individuals and as communities & societies, explore the definitions & how subjective the definitions are.
Outline & establish the definitions and measure of crime – State the official definitions & measures (police recorded crime, crime survey england & wales etc) of crime and start to make an analysis on them by discussing their values and limitations
Theories of crime and definitions have changed over time and will continue to change, not only that but opinions amongst different groups & communities on the definitions of crime and the criminal will differ continously, making evidence contradictory and complex. Acknlowedge this and explain why the concept of crime is such a difficult thing to define because of this
Further paragraphs – building an argument with evidence.
Develop an argument by assessing the extent in which crime affects harm – Discuss the relationship between what is considered crime and harm. Discuss how the way we define crime, explain crime, and respond to crime, affects harm. Explain about how certain explanations of crime can cause harm. For instance, if we examine explanations & responces of crime (criminology as a discpline & the criminal justice system), are we all equal before the law? Discuss who is & who isn’t criminalised, as well as what and what isnt criminalised and explain how this haschanged over time (criminalisation, decriminalisation, who has been targetted over time). Discuss how the response of crime from the criminal justice system addresses some of the most significant harms in society. Consider truly how respond to crime & how this affects different groups & communities. Explain inequalities within criminalisation and punishment, discuss how the concept of state power might help us to understand the inequalities.
Use evidence from surveys, data, news articles & examples etc to back up the argument being made (for instance show proof of who is being criminalised and targetted, and who isn’t. eg, parliment having parties during lock down while students and working class individuals were fined – how parliment escape investigation even though they broke a law they placed). When you make a claim, evidence is needed. Also, analysis the sources and evidence used. Discuss the limitations of it, recongnise any gaps which remain all while making an argument with it.
Stay focused on the essay question – structure essay in a way that flows without talking too much about unnessary things
Help/sources & evidence for argument: :
– The Preface by Stuart Hall (pages xii – xviii)
– Intro Chapter: State, power, crime. P1-19
– Chapter 3 Racism and the state: Authoritarianism and coercion. P49-61
– Pages 61 to 68


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