We are now faced with images of criminal activity, whether that be large scale operations such as terrorism or drug trafficking or small scale like youth crime and delinquency, everyday of our lives and the trend in this seems to be on the rise.
The sense of the immediacy of crime and deviance through the intervention of the media has made it an important political issue.
He says in his (1982): “What is normal is simply that criminality exists, provided that each social type does not reach or go beyond a certain level which it is perhaps not impossible to fix conformity with…previous rules.” (Durkheim, 1982: 98) As long as the levels of deviance do not become unstable and threaten the social order, thought Durkheim, notions like crime and delinquency are important social functions; providing social cohesion and homogeneity.
The concept of breaking the law, in other words must always be in a dialectical relationship to the up holding of the law but the latter must always prevail in order to maintain the status quo.
What the figures have demonstrated is that heredity is a very strong predisposing factor as far as committing crimes is concerned.
But the actual way in which the crime is carried out, and whether or not the culprit is found and punished—these are obviously subject to the changing vicissitudes of everyday life.” (Eysenck, 1970: 74) One of the earliest sociological expositions of deviance was the functionalist view of Emile Durkheim.
A working definition of deviance as Haralambos (1991) suggests should involve some idea of relativity; with the current moral and ethical trends and mores taken as a benchmark for comparison: “Deviance is a relative: there is no absolute way of defining a deviant act.
Deviance can only be defined in relation to a particular standard and no standards are fixed or absolute.
The Blair government’s dictum of being “Tough on Crime, Tough on the Causes of Crime” has become a cliché of the contemporary political scene but one that seems to have found favor with public opinion.
A recent MORI poll, for instance, concerning the public’s attitudes towards the area of crime and delinquency reveals that almost 45 per cent of those poled thought that their concern of crime had “Increased a lot” over the last few years and that 46 per cent had lost confidence in the police and the social services ability to deal with its victims.