What Is Crime

1. Why is it so difficult to agree upon a definition of crime?
Crime is an ambiguous term and if you were to think of what crime means to you it may be different for every person. The Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘an act punishable by law as being forbidden by statute or injurious to the public welfare... an evil or injurious act, an offence a sin esp. of a grave character.’ This may look like a straightforward definition but what is considered by the term sin, where do you draw the line as to what is considered as a criminal act or not and is it just the existence of different laws that can cause these crimes. Many sociologists have constructed definitions of what they think crime is, however social construct, countries policies, white collar crimes, ideological census all need to be looked at and therefore defining the word crime produces many difficulties as to what behaviours are considered deviant   and a crime that should result in punishment.
There are many conflicting views as to how we should go about defining crime, most definitions associate crime and criminal law. They state that it is a violation of criminal law and therefore must have an outcome of punishment. However Sutherland (1949) conducted research into unethical practices among corporate managers in the USA and he found that despite the serious nature the practices were not considered criminal. This led Sutherland to suggest that the definition of crime should include ‘social injury’ or ‘social harm’.
Other ideas for the definition of crime include the creation of deviation by labelling behaviours and therefore crime can be a consequence of the application of this rule (Becker, 1993). Phillipson (1971) stated that ‘no behaviour is always and everywhere criminal, and Wilkins (1964) found that at one time or another some societies defined all forms of behaviour that are now deemed criminal as a desirable functioning of that form of society. This idea suggests crime is contextualised and...