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Tutor2U Teaching Activities

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022
Happy Families…

As many of you will already know, Tutor2U produces a shed-load of revision-type resources, from workbooks to flashcards to complete courses. Most of these can be purchased for varying amounts of cash (all major credit cards also accepted) but there’s plenty of stuff you can get for free in exchange for an email address (the links I’ve provided take you to the resource page from where it can be downloaded once you’ve registered / signed-in).

For this post I’ve focused on what they’ve called “Teaching Activities”, a relatively small, but nicely-produced, set of activities focused on a small number of topics (research methods, families, deviance).

Theory Pyramids: In basic terms, a “card matching” activity that involves students assigning key terms / sociologists to various predetermined categories (structure or action, consensus or conflict, Functionalism or Marxism or Feminism etc.). Although it’s possible to do the activity, you need to note:

1. The resource cards refer to both a “Theory Pyramid” and a “Crime Pyramid”, which is a little confusing. It doesn’t make the activity unplayable, but it does indicate something’s gone a bit awry with the T2U quality control department. Similarly, one of the cards references a “polygamous horde” but the suggested categorisation refers to a “promiscuous horde” (Engels’ hopelessly outdated and ahistorical categorisation of some mythical “pre-capitalist” family-type arrangement – really not sure why sociology textbooks persist in teaching Engels in the Family module). Again, a small point but one that’s going to confuse people. And by “people” I mean “everyone”.

2. More-seriously, although the Notes refer to the fact “some key ideas can be placed in more than one category”, concepts like “role”, “nuclear family” and “gender socialisation” can be placed in every category, which kind-of defeats the objective, really. This looks like a bug that’s been turned into a feature.

The Only Way is Ethics: Sporting the kind of pointless pun that’s very dear to my own heart, this activity provides students with a synopsis of a “research situation” and asks them to identify possible ethical issues. The resource provides some suggested ethical issues for each and students are further asked if or how these might be resolved. All good, clean, fun (although some of the scenarios aren’t. Obviously).

Ultimate Research Champion: While this is quite a complicated – not to say convoluted – activity in terms of how it’s organised and put into practice, the basic premise is fairly simple and straightforward: students are given a “research topic” (such as “gender and subject choice”), a range of possible research methods (questionnaires, participant observation, official statistics…) and must decide which they think could be best-used to research the problem.

While the premise may be simple, the execution certainly isn’t. In the first place, the student’s choice of method in relation to the question is automatically marked, via the accompanying PowerPoint Presentation, in terms of concepts like reliability, validity, representativeness and “practicality” (whatever that may actually turn out to mean). While this is all-well-and-good, it does mean that something like “official statistics” are automatically marked highly for “reliability” and poorly for “validity” (as in null-point), which unfortunately isn’t how these things actually work. Particularly in this instance, when official statistics on subject choice are highly valid in terms of actually “measuring what they claim to measure“. They don’t tell us why different genders choose different subjects, but that’s another problem…

Secondly, while the objective seems to be to encourage students to discuss their choice of method in relation to key concepts and their appropriateness to studying different topics it’s not hard to see this rapidly devolving into a “guess the right method” exercise.

Which would be a shame because it’s a decent idea that’s been let-down by poor execution.

A further issue teacher’s might have is with the resource itself. While the integral PowerPoint  Presentation is nicely done it depends on macros being enabled which, I’d hazard a guess, is not something any school / college is going to be happy to allow (it’s just too easy to write macro viruses…).

Happy Families: This activity uses the old card game “Happy Families” (remember Mr Bunn the Baker? No, thought not) to teach different types of family structure. It throws a bonus set of family-related questions into the mix but, when all’s said and done, it’s just a fairly long-winded way to identify different types of family…

Interactionist Approaches to Crime and Deviance: A neat set of revision activities (multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-gaps, bingo…) in one handy PowerPoint Presentation. What’s not to like?

The Usual Suspects: Another simple-but-interesting idea – give students a question and ask them to select 5 from a range of cards displaying crime and deviance concepts / theories that can be used to answer the question. There are a couple of glaring and confusing errors (Phegemonic masculinity? Opportunities subcultures?) but these don’t particularly detract from the activity. There are also blank cards you can use to add any theories you’ve taught that are not included in the provided pack.

Which is thoughtful.

Party On!

Who Am I? Another Crime and Deviance activity that could, if you were really, really, motivated (or desperate) be adapted to other topics (although I’d advise against it). Basically, students need to identity a theorist from a range of up to 10 clues, although quite why you’d want them to do this is anyone’s guess. Still, if you do, you now can.

Don’t Repeat Santa: Nice PowerPoint implementation of the old “guess the word without saying it” game. Mainly based around education but with a bit of crime and deviance and a random set of Christmas-appropriate words thrown-in for good measure. If your school / college allows you to run macros there’s hours of fun for all here. If they don’t, there isn’t because the Presentation won’t work.

Sociology Party!: If you’re the kind of teacher who thinks they should “loosen-up the lesson” a bit come end-of-term (but secretly can’t bring yourself to the point where your students aren’t actually doing any exam-based Sociology), this is the activity for you. The resource lists 5 or 6 different “party activities” you could try, none of which are very demanding (although the “music quiz” that splits students into teams and gives them “5 minutes to come up with 5 songs that provide a clue to a sociological concept, theory or keyword” of your choice is likely to test everyone to the limit – particularly if you restrict them to the songs you know that were popular before they were born…).

As a final treat you’re instructed to give them a “party bag” that involves “An essay question to take home and complete for homework!”. I’m not sure if the exclamation mark is indicative of “Surprise! You thought you were getting something good, but I tricked you” or simply “I actually hate you all”.

Crime in England and Wales: March 2022

Monday, July 25th, 2022
Source: Kai Pilger

While the latest set of Official Crime Statistics covering England and Wales come with what should, by now, be the familiar methodological qualifications concerning both their reliability – or, more pertinently perhaps, their unreliability – and validity, they are nevertheless useful as general indicators of crime patterns.

As such, they’re worth perusing if you have the time.

And if you don’t, there are always the edited lowlights…

The lowlights

6.3m crimes were recorded in the year to March 2022 – an all-time high for recorded crime and 4% higher than the previous high: 6.1m offences recorded in 2020.

Although there was a 16% increase in crime year-on-year, this figure needs to be seen in the context of the depressed recorded rates in 2021 due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

As is increasingly becoming the case there are wide fluctuations in the prevalence of different types of crime. This includes a:

  • 37% increase in online fraud and computer misuse offences.
  • 20% decrease in theft.
  • 25% increase in homicide (something that includes offences like murder and manslaughter). Compared to March 2020, however, there has been almost no change (710 offences in 2022 as opposed to 714 in 2020). The latter did, however, include the exceptional case of 39 migrants found dead inside a lorry.
  • 10% increase in knife-enabled crime. Compared to March 2020, however, knife-enabled crimes were slightly lower.
  • 32% increase in sexual offences (including 70,000 rapes).
  • This may or may not reflect a real increase in sexual offences because these statistics are impacted by campaigns focused on encouraging victims to report incidents that would, in the past, have gone unreported.

    Clear-up rates

    In England and Wales a crime is considered to be “cleared” (i.e. the police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the offence) once a suspect is charged or summonsed – not when a suspect is found guilty. In 2022:

  • 5.6% of reported offences were cleared-up, a new historic low and down from 7.1% in 2021 and 16% in 2015.
  • 1.3% of reported rapes resulted in someone being charged.
  • Nearly half (42%) of rape victims “gave up and withdrew support for seeking justice through the criminal justice system” before anyone was convicted.

    Crime Survey

    While the generally more-accurate Crime Survey of England and Wales (formerly the British Crime Survey) showed a decline in crime over the past 20 years, “offences recorded by police showed various serious offending hitting 20-year highs”. These included:

  • 70,000 rapes.
  • 200,000 sexual offences.
  • 700,000 stalking and harassment offences.
  • 900,000 domestic abuse-related offences
  • 2 million violence against the person offences.
  • Methods in Context: Crime in England and Wales

    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

    Keeping abreast of the various statistical sources and data on crime can be both time-consuming and somewhat confusing for teachers and students – both in terms of the volume of data and the reliability and validity of different data sources.

    For these reasons the Office for National Statistics statistical bulletin is a brilliant resource for a-level sociologists in terms of both crime statistics and the research methodologies underpinning their production (so it’s good for information covering both Crime and Deviance and Crime and Methods in Context).

    While the statistical bulletin contains all your favourite statistics:

    • an 18% increase in total crime, driven by a 54% increase in fraud and computer misuse offences
    • a 15% decrease in theft offences.

    it’s particularly interesting this year (2022) because of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic – both in terms of crime (“Crime recorded by police in England and Wales fell by 8% in 2020 as periods of lockdown caused theft reports to drop by more than a quarter”) and how it was recorded.

    In the latter respect the ONS trialled a new “Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW)” in 2020 “to capture trends in crime while normal face-to-face interviewing was suspended because of restrictions on social contact during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic“.

    This change raises a range of reliability, validity and comparability issues that might prove a fruitful source of discussion and instruction…

    (more…)

    Victim Survey Report

    Tuesday, June 7th, 2022
    Click to Download copy

    The study of crime victims has, until quite recently, been a largely-neglected aspect of policing in England and Wales (and everywhere else come to that) so it may surprise you to know that since the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004), there have been a succession of Victims’ Commissioners whose role is:

    To promote the interests of victims and witnesses, encourage good practice in their treatment, and regularly review the Code of Practice for Victims which sets out the services victims can expect to receive.”

    One way this is achieved is through various forms of research – survey and otherwise – into crime victims and a selection of the latest Reports can be found on the Commission website. While there’s some interesting stuff available, such as details of an upcoming Report into victims of online harm (including a copy of the questionnaire used), I thought it might be useful to bring the 2021 Victims Survey to your attention.

    While the full Victim Survey Report (it’s only 10 or so pages…) is available if you want details of the sample (not huge – 587 responses to an online survey) the questions used and answers received (a mix of qualitative and quantitative data), the edited lowlights are as follows:

  • 43% of victims would report a crime again.
  • 34% of victims would not report a crime again.
  • 50% would attend court again (a year-on-year decline from 67% in 2020).
  • 66% had to wait ‘too long’ for their case to go to court.
  • Ethnic minorities are less likely to feel like they were treated fairly and respectfully by police:
  • 33% of ethnic minority respondents “felt the police treated them fairly and with respect” (compared with 44% of white respondents).
    16% agreed “victims are fully supported by the police” (compared with 26% from white backgrounds).

  • 9% of victims thought the courts dealt with cases promptly.
  • 83% claimed to have little or no confidence in the effectiveness of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in prosecuting those accused of a crime.
  • The most important factors for respondents in the overall process were:
  • “having the crime fully investigated” (48%)
    “being treated fairly and with respect by the police” (38%)
    “perpetrator being charged with a crime” (24%).

  • In 2018 39% were given the opportunity to make a Victim Personal Statement (VPS). This increased to 51% in 2021.
  • 29% of victims are aware of the Victims’ Code.
  • The 2021 survey covered “experiences of the criminal justice system” in the previous three years, including the Covid-19 pandemic. Although around 50% of victims reported their victimhood during the pandemic “there were few substantive differences in responses compared to those whose cases were dealt with earlier”. This suggests that problems relating to victim’s experiences in the criminal justice system are structural and endemic rather than the result of exceptional circumstances caused by the medical emergency. As Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner put it:

    Time and time again, the police, CPS and other justice agencies have been found wanting, with the CPS, in particular, shown to be inconsiderate of victims’ needs. All too often victims are still treated as an afterthought – a bystander to proceedings, rather than the valued participant they should be.”

    Home Office Research Findings

    Saturday, May 7th, 2022

    Between 1992 and 2008 the Home Office published around 250 “Research Fundings” – a heady mixture of sociological research, British Crime Survey data, evaluations of crime policies and the like – in a short-form that consisted of 4 – 6 pages built around summaries of:

  • Key Points
  • Methods and Methodology (where relevant)
  • Key Findings
  • Conclusions.
  • These are very student (and teacher) friendly, particularly the Key Points summaries that, by-and-large, preclude the need to actually read the rest of the findings if you’re pushed for time, have a Very Short Attention Span or just can’t be bothered.

    Although the selective trawl through the available Findings might prove both interesting and informative, depending on what you may or may not need for teaching purposes, the Archive does have a couple of potential drawbacks:

    1. Some of the very early bulletins look as if they’ve been badly-photocopied from an original document that was itself badly-copied from someone’s proto-attempt to use primitive (circa 1990) DTP software. By 1996, however, someone at the Home Office had clearly made an executive design to up their design game, buy some reasonably-decent software and generally think about their end-users. At this point things start to become much more presentable, not to say readable.

    2. The bulk of the archive covers the years 1995 – 2007 which, as you will appreciate, is starting to make the research a little dated (or historically-interesting if you prefer). Having said that, it’s not too old to be badly outdated and many of the areas covered – from published sociological research on areas like gender and crime to early evaluations of schemes that have now become established on the UK crime scene – have a certain historical relevance and attraction.

    A couple of the reports in particular caught my eye:

    Firstly, Gender differences in risk factors for offending: Farrington and Painter (2004). This drew conclusions from the  Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, a longitudinal survey of crime and delinquency “in 411 males, mostly born in 1953. The Study began in 1961–62, when most of the boys were aged 8–9”. It is, if memory serves, still going strong…

    Secondly, Mike Sutton’s (1998) Handling stolen goods and theft: a market reduction approach. If you’re not familiar with this interesting approach to crime reduction I’ve previously written a handy outline that should bring you up to speed. I’d like to think it’s because I’m nice like that but, on reflection, I’m definitely not.

    Left Realism: Key Ideas and Criticisms

    Monday, March 7th, 2022

    Left Realism is one of the major criminological theories at A-level  and, for this reason, it’s one that students need to know well. The following, therefore, is a basic overview of Left Realism’s key ideas: from how they conceptualise crime through to what they see as the main problem of crime and possible solutions to how crime can be researched and explained. The overview concludes with a couple of criticisms you may not have encountered before…

    Key Concepts

    There are three key concepts students need to know and understand:

    1. The aetiological crisis of explanation: aetiology refers to the idea of first or primary causes, a classic example in relation to crime being the conventional left / liberal criminological view that economic conditions, such as poverty and deprivation, are the key cause of crime. The problem for Left Realists such as Lea and Young was that while economic conditions clearly played some role in crime, the empirical evidence produced by crime statistics and rates showed that during the 20th century crime in Western societies appeared to rise regardless of macro economic conditions. It rose, in other words, during both economic upturns (“booms”) and downturns (“busts”).

    This being the case, Left Realism argues we need a more-sophisticated way to explain crime based around:

    2. The Criminological Triangle (Relative (economic) deprivation, political marginality and subculture). The idea, in basic terms, that decisions to commit crimes result from a combination of circumstances – economic, political and cultural – such that criminality is highly-likely if three conditions are met: the individual feels relatively deprived as compared to others in a similar social position, they believe their legitimate concerns and expectations are being ignored (political marginalisation) and they are in contact – in real and / or cyberspace – with others who share these characteristics (subculture).

    3. The Square of Crime: the focus here is on how different types of social relationship (between police and public, offender and victim, and so forth) create different social reactions and, more importantly, different (policy) solutions to the problem of crime. Young (1997), for example, sketches the broad relationships involved in the understanding of social reactions to crime and conformity in terms the ‘square of crime’, where social reactions are mediated through a range of different interdependent relationships, such as between the police and offenders – how, for example, the police view ‘potential and actual offenders’ – or how the general public view the police: if the public have a generally positive view of the police, for example, they are more-likely to be cooperative and supportive of them, which in turn makes it easier for the police to do their job and makes them more-effective in their role.

    (more…)

    Crime and Deviance Study Guides

    Sunday, January 23rd, 2022
    Interactionist Study Guide

    The great Crime Clear-Out continues with 3 Study Guides that I probably half-inched at some point from the Queen Elizabeth High School Moodle site (which is okay because whoever put them there – along with some other crime-related bits-and-bobs that might be worth a butcher’s – seems to have got them from Greenhead College).

    From what I can gather the Guides seem to have been created 10 or so years ago (or maybe slightly earlier), a point I mention not because the basic theory and concepts used are out-of-date but because a few of the resources mentioned in the text – particularly a couple of pieces of video – no-longer seem to exist. I have, therefore, edited these references out of the text.

    Aside from this I’ve left everything much as the (unknown) author/s intended, including the references to an equally-unknown textbook / guide, sections of which students are encouraged to read before answering some of the questions. I’ve deliberately left the Guides in Word format so that if you want to use them with your students you can edit / adapt these references accordingly for whatever textbook you use.

    More

    What Works to Reduce Crime?: A Summary of the Evidence

    Monday, January 3rd, 2022
    Download full Report

    It’s probably safe to say that a key driver of crime policy in countries like Britain and America over the past 50 or so years has been the notion of situational crime control. The idea, in a nutshell, that there can be no “solution to the problem of crime”, as such. The best we can do, both individually and as a society, is to limit its extent and impact.

    To this end we’ve seen a wide range of theoretical (Routine Activities, Broken Windows…) and practical (from strategies to techniques) ideas and initiatives designed to reduce crime by making it harder to commit and a recent (2014) Scottish Government review of “what works” (and by extension, “what doesn’t work”) in relation to reducing crime and offending – What Works to Reduce Crime?: A Summary of the Evidence – looked at the evidence across three areas of crime control:

  • Targeting the underlying causes of crime.
  • Deterring potential offenders by making the cost of offending greater than the benefits.
  • Increasing the difficulty of offending by reducing opportunities to commit crime.
  • This, as you might expect, is a comprehensive review that covers an awful lot of ground. It runs to nearly 70 pages of text (plus extensive bibliography) lightened only by 4 simple (but nonetheless useful) PowerPoint graphics and, for reasons known only to the authors, a single, forlorn, table on page 24 dealing with “Trajectories of criminal convictions”. And if you’re wondering why this particular topic merited such special treatment, you may want to think about getting out a bit more.

    With the best will in the world, the Report isn’t something that’s likely to be read in full by many – if any – of your students because it’s so densely-packed with all-kinds of information, both statistical and otherwise. It is, however, a document you can mine for all kinds of information about situational crime prevention that can then be condensed and passed-on to your students in a format they’re more-likely to appreciate.

    Or not.

    You never can tell.

    PowerPoint: Does Prison Work?

    Friday, October 1st, 2021

    Previously posted on Crime and Deviance Channel, this PowerPoint Presentation outlining Bandyopadhyay et al’s “Acquisitive Crime: Imprisonment, Detection and Social Factors” (2012) research is now available in two forms:

    1. Click to advance Presentation.

    2. Auto-advance Presentation.

    The research looked at three main questions:

  • How are crime rates affected by the costs and benefits of crime?
  • Does sentencing reduce crime?
  • Are short sentences more effective than long sentences?
  • The quantitative analysis of crime rates covered a 16-year period (1992 – 2008) and examined 4 types of crime:

  • burglary
  • theft and handling
  • fraud and forgery
  • robbery.
  • This updated PowerPoint Presentation corrects a couple of spelling errors, uses an embedded font for correct display on machines that don’t have the required font installed and adjusts the Presentation to Widescreen.

    Sociological Stories: Broken Windows Revisited

    Sunday, September 5th, 2021

    This attempt to create something a little different in PowerPoint expands on the first effort by being significantly longer, around 50 slides, split into three separate-but-related sections and dotted with a few choice bits of online video and hyperlinks (for which you will obviously need to be connected to the Internet).

    Although it’s made in PowerPoint, it isn’t “A PowerPoint” in the conventional sense of both “sticking bullet points on a page” and being intended for teacher-led instruction.

    Rather, it’s more a kiosk-type Presentation designed to be read by individual students as a kind of “sociological story” about Broken Windows. To this end the 3 sections are as follows:

    1. Intro and Overview is probably the most-conventional section in terms of A-Level / High School requirements in that it covers a number of the broad strength and weaknesses of Broken Windows.

    2. The Ecological Context delves into the theoretical background of Broken Windows in order to examine the claim that we can understand crime and criminality through the lens communal pressures to conform or deviate. As such, it’s a section that students can delve into if they’re particularly interested although, at A / High School level it’s probably not that important. It’s also an area teachers can summarise fairly easily and concisely if needed.

    3. The Order Maintenance section deals mainly with Zero-Tolerance Policing and is mainly interesting because of the way it looks at Zimbardo’s “Anonymity of Place” in the light of new research on the experiment. It also introduces an interesting natural experiment recently (2017) carried-out in New York that not only casts grave doubt on the effectiveness of Zero-Tolerance Policing but also tentatively suggests it may be the cause of many of the problems it claims to resolve.

    Because the Presentation is made for PowerPoint 2019 / 365 (If you try to load it into previous versions of PowerPoint it will not function as intended) it can only be downloaded in a PowerPoint Show (.ppsx) format. This means it will happily run independently of PowerPoint, whatever – or no – version of PowerPoint you have.

    AllSociology Podcasts

    Monday, April 12th, 2021

    I stumbled across Ben Hewitson’s Sociology Podcasts via his Allsociology Instagram page – the latter’s well worth a look for the free Revision Card Thingies (they’re probably not called that, but it was the best I could come up with) that highlight some key ideas in a-level sociology in a very visual way – and what’s on offer is well worth a listen.

    A Revision Card Thingy
    (as it must now be Officially Called).

    The Podcasts have been going since October 2019 and there are currently 19 episodes available, varying in length from around 30 – 60 minutes depending on the topic. The latter include revision-type discussions on crime and deviance, religion, stratification, social policy, education and family life, but there are also a few that dip into areas like sociology at university, applying sociology to contemporary issues (such as Coronavirus), common student exam mistakes and more.

    The podcasts generally consist of Ben taking around different aspects of a topic, either alone or in tandem with fellow sociologist Leanne Symonds, and while this may sound a bit dull, it actually isn’t. The two presenters work well with each other, bouncing ideas around, with one or the other able to chip-in when the threat of dead air raises its ugly little head. Which, somewhat surprisingly given the fact each podcast is done, as it says on the tin, in “1 Take” (i.e. no editing), doesn’t seem to happen very often, if at all (you’ll have to listen to find out…).

    The format’s fun, occasionally funny and generally informative – I found myself happily listening to the full 40 minutes of Episode 17 on Crime and Deviance that covered definitions of crime and deviance, the social construction of crime / situational deviance, the criminal justice system, white collar crime, green crime and more.

    And given that I’m definitely not the target audience (that would be a-level sociology students) the format’s clearly got something going for it.

    So, if you’re in the market for pointing your students in the direction of some free, revision-type, information, the podcasts are broadcast on Spotify (although there are plenty of other options available) and while you can sign-up to the service if you want – you’re probably aware there’s a free version “supported by advertising” – there’s no obligation to do so.

    Which is nice.

    Sociology Revision Blasts

    Thursday, March 11th, 2021

    Having girded my loins, as you do, for this set of Tutur2U GCSE and A-level Revision videos I was quite prepared to be met with a series of “worthy-but-a-little-dull” screencasts that used a “Podcasts with Pictures” format to talk students through a range of sociological topics.

    Chatty. And Definitely Not Dull.

    In other words, someone talking over and around a series of static screens that, by-and-large, mirror whatever the narrator is saying.

    Some see this as reinforcement.

    Some see this as redundancy.

    You pays your money. Or not, in this case, because the screencasts are free (but you probably get the drift).

    Anyway, I digress.

    What we actually have here are a set of recorded webinars, featuring between 2 and 4 presenters, that run for around 40 – 45 minutes. Being a webinar, there’s also an (unseen) audience of students whose main role is to answer a wide range of different types of “revision-style questions” (multiple-choice, connecting walls, 30-second challenges and so forth) set by the presenters.

    Against all my, admittedly quite low, initial expectations I found the whole thing great fun, engaging and informative.

    This was helped, in no small measure, by the personable and chatty presenters who chivvied the unseen students into answering the on-screen questions and then provided a useful commentary on why they were (mostly) right and how this all connected to answering different types of exam question.

    While you’ll probably have to look through the webinars to see if the information tested fits with your current teaching – it’s mostly fairly generic stuff you’ll find in most GCSE / A-level textbooks, but there may be examples and references you’ve not taught or used alternatives for with your students – I think you’ll find them a really engaging way to mix-up revision sessions with your students, particularly if you’re teaching on-line.

    Webinars

    Realism and Crime | Animated

    Monday, March 8th, 2021
    Gone. In 60 seconds…

    The 4th and final (maybe for the time-being) animated crime film in the short series that includes versions of Strain Theory, Interactionism and Marxism, all presented in just 60 seconds.

    Realist approaches identifies a number of key ideas about this general orientation towards understanding crime, from its victim-centred focus to its emphasis on crime prevention as a way of reducing the impact crime has on both the individual and society.

    And if you’re in the market for more crime films, have a look around the Crime section on our site.

    One-Minute Marxism and Crime | An Animated Film

    Saturday, March 6th, 2021
    Marxism. In a minute.

    While the main focus of our collective energies is on the day-to-day production of psychology and sociology films for the A-level / High School market across the globe, we like, from time-to-time, to have a little play around with different ideas and formats – one of which was the “Just-A-Minute”

    Crime films that you can find on my YouTube Channel, along with a whole lot more free films and trailers.

    Trailers mostly, if I’m being honest.

    But also free films:

  • Strain Theory
  • Interactionism
  • Realism
  • Marxism
  • These, as you probably won’t be too surprised to learn, aimed to provide a quick, if understandably basic, overview of these four ideas in-or-around 60 seconds. I then got to thinking about how these films might look animated. As you do.

    Anyway, one injudicious application of an animation filter later, I came-up with cartoonised versions of the Strain and Interactionism films and exhausted from my labours (or I just forgot about them. One of the two) I neglected to cartoonise the others.

    Until now – or at least when you can now marvel (pun sort-of intended) at Marxism and Crime: The Animated Version.

    Realism, as is so often the case where I’m concerned, will have to wait.

    Sociological Insights: A Curated Collection of ASA Videos

    Thursday, February 18th, 2021

    The American Sociological Association seems to take a genuine interest in the study of sociology at all levels – from the humble High School classroom to the rarefied strata of postgraduate specialisms – and their latest initiative is the creation of what they’ve called Sociological Insights:

    A curated collection of short videos, featuring sociologists sharing their expertise on some of the most pressing topics today”.

    Sociological Insights…

    And while these sociologists are, as you might expect, uniformly drawn from the ranks of American Academia and the “pressing topics” are resolutely focused on those most-pertinent to Americans and American Society – from privatised Health Care, through Evangelical Christianity, to gun crime and Black experiences of discrimination – this doesn’t mean the films don’t have value for Non-North American’s (as the rest of the world is known. Probably. I haven’t actually checked).

    On the contrary, there’s enough sociological content within each film to enable those outside the American purview to look past the specific-specifics in order to embrace and apply the more general principles involved across 6 broad categories of film:

    1. Criminal Justice encompasses illegal drug markets, the police and racism, racialised police misconduct and mass incarceration.

    2. Poverty touches on areas like food insecurity and the working poor.

    3. Environment covers areas like poverty and environmental harm and the politics of climate change.

    4. Gender – probably the most-accessible for non-American audiences – looks at gender inequality in the home, the complexity of gender identity and how “women are challenging traditional gender norms in the craft beer scene”.

    5. Technology and Aging involves online dating amongst the elderly and social networks for seniors.

    6. Miscellaneous includes the gun control debate, religiosity in America, Hate Crime, Health Care and immigration.

    The format is pretty standardised across all of the films: American sociologist talking to camera about their research interspersed with film to illustrate their ideas and arguments.

    And all in under 3 minutes.

    Sociology Texts: Another Big Bundle of Free

    Sunday, February 14th, 2021

    One of the things we like to do on this blog is discover and post orphaned sociology textbooks – as in texts published sometime this century that have either gone out of print or been superseded by later, bigger, more-colourful, All-Singing-All-Dancing versions – for the benefit of teachers and students in these straitened economic times.

    I like to think we’re giving these texts something of a new lease of life because even though they’ve been replaced by a newer version, much of the information they contain doesn’t suddenly become irrelevant or worthless – you just need to be aware that using slightly older texts can have a few potential downsides:

    1. Specifications change, both in terms of the Modules they cover and their content. Twenty years ago, for example, AQA included a Module on Power and Politics that has long-since disappeared from exams and textbooks.

    2. Statistical data does go quickly out-of-date and is likely to be more current in tater versions of texts. Against this, keep in mind that statistical data in even the latest versions of textbooks is likely to be 2 – 3 years out-of-date by the time a text is authored and published. Against this, textbooks aren’t a particularly great statistical resource anymore when all the most up-to-the-minute stats are freely available at the press of a few mouse clicks…

    3. Research cited in older texts may have been questioned or disproved by the time later texts are published and this is clearly a drawback as far as teaching is concerned. The extent to which this is actually a problem, given the texts republished here are, at most, 20 years old (i.e. they just about squeeze into contemporary definitions of, well, “contemporary”) is something you need to consider before using them.

    Free the texts…

    Sociology Delivery Guides

    Monday, December 7th, 2020

    At some point around 2015 – presumably just in advance of the new Sociology Specification – the OCR Exam Board burst into action by creating not just the Lesson Elements previously posted and a short-but-useful set of Topic Exploration Packs on various sociological perspectives, but, more-importantly for our current purpose, a series of Lesson Delivery Guides designed to, err, guide teachers delivery of lessons I guess.

    Unlike their elemental counterparts, the Delivery Guides cover the complete Specification in terms of Modules, though obviously not in terms of lessons because that would be asking a bit too much.

    For the sake of consistency and clarity, each Guide is structured in terms of three main categories:

    1. Curriculum content is a brief overview of what’s covered in the OCR Module. If you follow a different Specification you can happily ignore this section, although since most UK Specs have a degree of overlap it can be useful to check-out what’s being covered.

    2. Thinking conceptually identifies some of the key concepts involved in the Module in greater or lesser detail (Family, for example, has a comprehensive conceptual coverage, Research Methods not so much). Again, even if you don’t follow the OCR Spec. there’s a lot here that will be relevent to other Specs.

    3. Thinking contextually offers a series of teaching activities designed to get students thinking about the content being studied (although, for some reason, the Socialisation activities also include the aforementioned Lesson Elements, whereas the Globalisation activities do not. Go figure…).

    While the activities are tailored to the OCR Spec., teachers of other Specs. are likely to find some activities relevant to their own Spec. so it’s worth having a look through the relevant Guides just to see if there’s something worth pinching…

    Click to see the guides

    Study Skills Resources

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

    The Welsh Exam Board site seems to have undergone a rather drastic culling of it’s once-outstanding sociology resources – all I could find was a rather sad Flash movie on gender socialisation that will cease to function on January 1st 2021, some interesting and extensive Crime and Deviance resources that are definitely worth digging around and a Research Methods section that’s quite substantial, looks very nice in all its html5 glory but which, when all’s-said-and-done, doesn’t actually offer very much more than you’d find on the (static) pages of a textbook.

    A Functional PowerPoint

    There is, however, an interesting Study Skills section – a mix of Word and PowerPoint documents – that seems to have survived and even though most of the documents were created a good few years ago (and then some – although we are at least talking 21st century) there’s no reason why some – or indeed all – couldn’t happily find a place in your teaching.

    The materials broadly cover things like essay-writing, evaluation and revision and while they’re clearly aimed at WJEC students they’re generic enough to apply to other exam boards.

    Although the materials are fairly basic in terms of presentation (and occasionally weirdly-strident in tone – the Guide to Revision reads like it was written by a teacher who was particularly frustrated by their students inability to follow simple instructions and is writing on the verge of some sort of apoplectic explosion…) but they’re generally functional enough and the PowerPoint’s in particular are informative and helpful.

    The Crime Collection

    Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

    In a previous post I pulled-together all the free crime and deviance films we have available to create a simple one-stop-shop (so to speak) you could browse, rather than have to search individually for these films.

    I’ve extended this thinking to bring together all the posts we’ve made on Crime and Deviance – and since there’s “quite a few” I thought it might be useful to break them down into rough categories (Notes, Organisers, Activities, PowerPoints and Films) for your viewing convenience.

    Since I’ve discovered this is actually quite a task, I’ll add the different categories “as-and-when” I can, starting with:

    (more…)

    Durkheim and the Functions of Crime

    Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

    We’ve been busy on the film front these past few months making a range of crime and deviance films on Hate Crime, Crime and Gender, Situational Crime Prevention and Criminal Profiling (although the latter will probably have greater appeal to psychologists than sociologists) and a final offering in what people would probably be calling a “Festival of Crime” if there were such things as festivals anymore, is an 8-minute (give-or-take) film looking at Durkheim’s ideas about how crime may be functional for society.

    To this end the film is constructed around an overview of three basic functions:

  • The clarification of moral boundaries
  • Social change and law reform
  • The reinforcement of social cohesion
  • These ideas are variously illustrated by :

  • Zero-Tolerance Policing in New York.
  • the imprisonment of Dr Jack Kevorkian for helping terminally-ill patients to die.
  • the UK murder of James Bulger.
  • As ever, the film is short, to-the-point and, I would suggest, a useful way to introduce some of Durkheim’s key, counter-intuitive and somewhat controversial ideas about crime to students.

    Hate Crime in Everyday Life

    Monday, August 17th, 2020

    While spectacular Hate Crimes involving mass murders and indiscriminate destruction invariably grab the newspaper, tv and social media headlines, a wide range of more mundane and pedestrian forms of hate are largely ignored.

    These relatively low-level forms of hate – from casual bullying to wider forms of sexual or racial harassment – rarely explode into the headlines with the visceral intensity of their spectacular counterparts but these “everyday forms of hate” may have significantly greater impacts on the lives of many more people.

    This short film, featuring Professor Neil Chakraborti, outlines some of the less-studied aspects of hate crime by way of providing teachers and students with a general introduction to this area of crime and deviance.

    Hate Crime in Everyday Life from ShortCutstv on Vimeo.

    Hate Crime

    Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

    Historically, Hate Crime isn’t something that’s featured prominently in most sociology specifications and this lack of prominence has meant that resources for teaching it have generally been a little lacking – so anything that helps to fill-in some of the many gaps is probably to be welcomed.

    The Report-it web site is one such general resource UK teachers and students might find helpful because it contains a range of relatively-simple – but accessible – materials. These have been created under the guidance of The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), a body responsible for the national coordination of UK law enforcement that broadly reflects the views of Chief Constables and Police Crime Commissioners across the UK.

    The materials range from legal definitions of different types of hate crime in relation to different social groups characterised by things like disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender to Reports and Resources that include a range of downloadable materials students could be encouraged to explore as part of their wider reading.

    One of the useful things about this section is that it contains a number of relatively-recent Reports – such as “Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the UK (2016)”, “Attitudes to LGBT+ people in the UK (2019)” and data relating to Hate Crime prosecutions (2010-2015) – that goes a little way beyond what you’re likely to find in textbooks.

    If you’re into classroom decoration (presupposing there’s a return to classroom teaching any time soon…) you’ll also find a range of A4 posters to cut-out-and-keep.

    Alternatively, you can print them.

    And you might be interested to know some of these are available in Welsh and Polish.

    Research Methods Bonus!

    I came across this short (4 minute) film called “Homophobia Social Experiment” that you might find helpful in relation to Crime with Theory and Methods because it uses a simple observational method to carry-out an equally-simple field experiment.

    (more…)

    Crime and Gender: Closing The Gap?

    Thursday, July 16th, 2020

    The second offering in our short season of new crime films (the first provides an empirical example of Situational Crime Prevention in the form of Painter and Farrington’s Stoke-on-Trent street-lighting experiment) looks at the enduring relationship between gender and crime.

    This relationship, as sociologists have long-observed, is one that, both historically and cross-culturally, is dominated by men – to the extent that statistical analysis consistently shows that in almost every country over 80% of crime is committed by men.

    In recent years, however, the gender gap in countries like Britain and North America has been closing: the male crime rate has been steadily falling while the female rate, particularly but not exclusively for violent crime, has been increasing.

    This short (8-minute) film provides a general introduction to the relationship between gender and crime through various sociological theories – from control, through strain to hegemonic masculinity – that seek to both explain gender differences in crime and why things may be (slowly) changing.

    GCSE Sociology Freebies

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

    The Sociology Support web site has some new and interesting freebies available for GCSE Sociology, the first of which is the Spec Check Pack.

    This consists of neat, one-page, summaries of the AQA Specification content (including an indication of Key Studies) that students (and teachers…) should find useful for both tracking progress through the course and for revision.

    The Pack has four pdf documents covering Social Stratification, Education, Family and Deviance.

    It might also be worth your while picking-up their free “Introducing Structural Theories” resource, again for AQA GCSE, that’s described as:

    A lesson for GCSE Sociology students introducing the main principles of structural perspectives”.

    This can be downloaded as both a PowerPoint Presentation and pdf file.

    Relighting the Streets: Situational Crime Prevention

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2020
    Buy or Rent the film

    Over the past 50 years an increasingly-influential school of criminology has argued that finding “the causes of crime” or “solutions to the problem of crime” is not possible. The best we can do, they argue, is manage and limit the extent of crime.

    Situational Crime Prevention, in this respect, involves a range of strategies based broadly around the idea that many forms of crime – particularly street crime – can be effectively managed through the control of physical space.

    In Britain, Painter and Farrington’s seminal Stoke-on-Trent street-lighting study has been an influential demonstration of the way continuities and changes in the built environment can influence many types of criminal street behaviour and this film draws on exclusive interview data with Painter to both outline the study and explain its implications for our understanding of the management of crime.

    This short film is designed to integrate into crime and deviance lessons by providing a simple empirical example of how situational crime prevention can be applied to our understanding of the theory and practice of crime control.

    Crime and Deviance: More PowerPoints

    Thursday, May 7th, 2020

    A few years ago(!) I posted a White Collar Crime PowerPoint with a note to say that it seemed like one of a pair with Corporate Crime (don’t ask me how I knew that, I’ve got no idea).

    Green Crime

    But the Bad News was I couldn’t find it.

    Never one to not persevere, I’ve been hunting night-and-day (not literally) for the missing PowerPoint and the Good News is that I’ve now found it. Corporate Crime is now available for your viewing pleasure alongside its White Collar counterpart.

    While some among us might have put their feet up and settled back a little smugly in their comfy chair content in the knowledge of A Job Well Done, others (i.e. me. In case there’s any doubt) kept their sleuthing hat on (not a Deerstalker, sadly) and continued the search.

    Which, I’m very pleased to say, has bourne fruit in the shape of three further Presentations, namely:

    1. State Crime and Human Rights.

    2. Green Crime.

    3. Cybercrime.

    Each Presentation is relatively short and generally takes the form of “defining the problem” coupled with some examples to illustrate the concept and a few class / exam questions to round things off. Having said that, the State and Human Rights Presentation is more-extensive and offers up a couple of explanations / theories that could be applied to understand the problem.

    You need to keep in mind that the Presentations seem to be around 10 years old (and reference material that is consequently a few years older than that) but otherwise all the Presentations represent relatively simple and painless ways to introduce some of the lesser, but nonetheless important, areas of the Crime and Deviance Specification.

    Year 13 Sociology

    Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

    A previous post (Year 12 Sociology) outlined a range of resources created by Stephanie Parsons to support AQA Paper 1 topics (Introduction to Sociology, Family, Education) and this post points you in the general direction of her 2nd year A-level site, Year 13 Sociology.

    Lesson Plan
    Year 13 Lesson Plan

    The landing page has a mix of posts on a range of topics (Marxist Perspectives, prisons, green crime, cults) so it’s probably worth having a nose around to see if there’s anything relevant to your particular interests. There are also a range of Paper 1 Revision Resources available.

    Aside from this, the major resources – mainly, but not exclusively, detailed lesson plan slides that include extensive Notes and Activities – cover three areas:

    1. Crime and Deviance: Includes resources on:

    Functionalism

    Marxism

    Subcultural Theory

    Labelling theory

    Left Realism

    Right Realism

    Environment (Ecological)

    Class

    Gender

    Globalisation and crime

    Media and crime

    Green crime

    Human Rights

    Crime and Punishment

    Police, Courts and Prisons

    Crime Prevention

    Victimology

    Ethnicity

    Theory and Methods / Beliefs in Society

    Crime as a Cause of Crime? Evaluating Routine Activities

    Tuesday, March 10th, 2020
    Click to download pdf version

    Felson and Cohen’s Routine Activities approach (1979) has arguably been one of the most-influential recent theories of crime, one that sits squarely within contemporary New Right / Realist explanations for crime and deviance.

    This post looks at a couple of useful ways students can evaluate the approach.

    A Quick Outline…

    The main objective of this post is to introduce a-level sociology students to some points of evaluation for Routine Activities and in order to do this, students need to be familiar with the basic approach. If they’re not, this quick outline should bring them up-to-speed.

    One advantage of the approach is that it’s easy to describe, at least in Felson and Cohen’s (1979) original argument that crime involves three essential elements:

    The Predatory Triangle

    1. A Suitable Target

    2. A Motivated (latterly, a Capable or Likely) Offender

    3. The absence of a Capable Guardian.

    This formulation has, over the years, seen various additions (see, for example, Clarke and Eck, 2003) although whether these represent an attempt to refine the approach or merely a papering over of the theoretical cracks, I couldn’t possibly say), but one of the most significant refinements has been to express these elements as part of what Felson and Cohen call “the Predatory Triangle”.

    While it might not seem much, this visual representation shows how the three elements are linked, such that, as they argue, a “Lack of any one of these elements is sufficient to prevent the successful completion of a direct-contact predatory crime”.

    In other words, for a crime to take place a likely offender needs to meet a suitable target in the absence of a capable guardian. Or, as Felson (1998) puts it, by way of an example:

    “A burglary needs a capable and motivated offender to find a suitable and accessible target, in the absence of anyone or anything there to keep the two apart”.

    There are a couple of points we can note in this respect:

    1. A crime occurs (or, in a weaker formulation, “is likely to occur”) when these three elements meet in time and space.

    If you want to give Routine Activities an historical context, in common with other Right Realist approaches such as Broken Windows it’s based on Ecological (how behaviour is influenced by social and physical spaces) and Control theories of behaviour. An element of Rational Choice Theory is often thrown into contemporary versions of the approach to “explain” why offenders are motivated or demotivated in relation to criminal intent.

    2. “Routine Activity” is an important part of the overall crime equation because it refers to the idea that “motivated offenders” come to identify suitable targets – and the extent to which they are protected by “capable guardians” – through their everyday experiences.

    As with most New Right / Right Realist approaches, the main focus is on crime prevention. While there is necessarily some discussion / speculation about “criminal motives” – Felson and Cohen refer, for example, to “structural conditions” that produce “motivated offenders” – there isn’t a great deal of interest in trying to explain why people are motivated towards crime.

    Crime, in this respect, is seen as a more-or-less unfortunate by-product of social and / or psychological background (depending on the particular theorist); crime is a “fact of life” and the best a society can do is to control it.

    In this respect the basic “Predatory Triangle” has clear implications for the control of crime:

    1. Motivated offenders can be deterred.

    2. Suitable targets need to be “hardened” or protected in ways that make them seem unsuitable to offenders.

    3. Capable Guardians – from the police, through careful and well-informed populations to various forms of technological guardianship (such as CCTV) – need to be extensively deployed.

    Evaluating RAT

    More Crime and Deviance Resources

    Monday, February 17th, 2020

    Following on from the previous set of crime resources, this is a mixed-bag of PowerPoint Presentations and Word documents covering various aspects of crime and deviance.

    While there is coverage of various issues and debates here, the main emphasis is on student activities and tasks – and while there’s nothing particularly spectacular or cutting-edge about the various resources there may be something here you’ll find helpful or inspiring.

    Resources…

    Crime and Deviance Resources

    Thursday, February 13th, 2020
    Globalisation and Crime

    For some reason I seem to have collected quite a lot of crime and deviance resources that are just sitting-around taking up space on my hard drive when they could be doing something useful like helping students revise or teachers plan lessons.

    And from this intro you’ll probably have guessed that what follows is an esoteric – not to say serendipitous – collection of resources (Presentations, Worksheets, Booklets – there’s even a Quiz in there somewhere) that I’ve bunged together under a general heading (“Resources!”) and posted on the web.

    And because there’s quite a lot of stuff I’ve generally kept description to a minimum – partly because if something looks even vaguely interesting you can download it and assess it for yourself and partly because it’s a bit of a chore and I’m making the space to spend a bit of Quality Time with Teddy my dog.

    So, in no particular order of quality or significance:

    Resources…

    Crime and Criminology: Free the Texts

    Saturday, February 1st, 2020

    Although criminology is a unique field of study focused on all things crime and criminal (yes, really), it invariably incorporates all kinds of sociological and psychological ideas, concepts and theories that makes criminology texts a potentially useful source of information.

    Mainly for teachers but, in some instances, a-level students as well.

    For this reason – and having absolutely nothing to do with the fact that in the course of finding all kinds of out-of-print sociology and psychology textbooks I stumbled across their criminological counterparts – I thought I’d do a post dedicated to all-things-criminal, albeit in the shape of a few orphaned texts that someone might find useful.

    Textbooks

    As with previous posts, only two criteria have been applied to the texts: that they were published “this century” (and depending upon which century you think you’re currently living, this may leave a little wiggle room) and they’re out-of-print. While I may or may not have collected a great many books that are currently in-print I’m not going to post them – presupposing I have them.

    Which I most certainly don’t.

    M’Lud.

    So, moving swiftly on from stuff I most-certainly haven’t found, to stuff I most-certainly have:

    Criminology: This 2006 text covers a lot of crime-related stuff (the clue is in the title) that’s not going to interest a-level social scientists, but there are areas (such as theories of crime, white-collar crime, hate crime, transnational terrorism…) that will.

    Explaining Crime and Its Context: The 7th edition of this text appeared in 2010 and has a couple of areas of major interest – crime statistics, the social distribution of crime, theories of crime – and some areas of minor interest (victimless crime, for example). The chapter on Crimes without Victims and Victims without Crimes is interesting but probably peripheral to most a-level sociology teaching.

    The Criminology of White-Collar Crime: Just about everything you might conceivably want to know about White-Collar crime (and plenty you probably don’t) explored in a variety of chapters by different authors in this 2009 tome. Probably more a reference guide for teachers, though.

    Criminology: A Sociological Introduction: Loads of chapters to interest sociologists from the relatively standard stuff (Functionalism), to the less standard stuff (Postmodernism) and the areas (green criminology, Terrorism, State Crime and Human Rights…) that most current textbooks tend to treat very lightly.

    Sociology of Deviant Behavior: As the title says, this – the 14th edition published in 2011 – focuses squarely on the concept of deviance – from explanations to types and taking in the concept of stigma for good measure. There is, however, a chapter on deviance and crime.

    Globalization & Crime: A useful book for teachers with a bit of time on their hands because this 2007 text goes into a lot of detail about various aspects of criminal globalisation.

    Sage Dictionary of Criminology: Although this just sneaks into the 21st century, it’s a dictionary so that probably doesn’t matter too much. It’s quite comprehensive, though, with each entry given a short overview followed by an analysis of it’s distinctive features and a brief evaluation.

    Clcik for textbook Chapters

    One-Minute Interactionism: The Animated Version

    Thursday, September 19th, 2019

    A few months ago we posted an animated version of our One-Minute Strain Theory film and since it generally seemed to get a relatively welcoming reception we thought we’d go ahead with some further conversions of films in the “One-Minute” series.

    This month’s free animated offering, therefore, is a 1-Minute explanation of Labelling Theory that covers the key ideas behind this theory of crime and deviance in around 60 seconds (give or take – and not including the intro and credits).

    These include ideas like: primary deviation, secondary deviation and self-fulfilling prophecies.

    As you may suspect, covering a topic in 60 seconds is really just designed to help students focus on key ideas that can then be explored and developed inside and outside the classroom.

    Update

    If you’d prefer the non-animated version of 1-Minute Interactionism (because it’s a lot less visually weird perhaps?) we’ve now made a version available for your viewing and educational pleasure.

    Not an animation in sight.

    Are you feeling lucky?

    Saturday, September 14th, 2019
    Well, do you?

    When it comes to Sociology Knowledge Organisers I’m starting to feel like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry: in all the excitement I’ve kinda lost track of what I have and haven’t posted.

    So, moving quickly past the stuff about “44 Magnum’s” and their undoubted ability to separate parts of your body from other parts, we can go straight to the bit where you’ve got to ask yourself just one question:

    “Do I feel lucky?”

    And if the answer’s “yes” then this small batch of A-level Organisers and Guides from Kate Henney (to add to the GCSE Family and Education Revision Guides I’ve previously posted) should be a very welcome addition to your growing pile. Presupposing you don’t already have them from some other post I’ve forgotten about. In which case, please ignore what follows:

    Family Organiser

    Families includes two types of KO – blank and completed – on:

  • Structures
  • Diversity
  • Nuclear families
  • Alternatives
  • Functions
  • Divorce
  • Changes
  • Education covers the following:

  • Functionalism
  • Marxism
  • Interactionism
  • Types of Schools
  • Social Class
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Question Guide

    Beliefs includes two types of KO – completed and cloze (fill-in-the-gaps):

  • Ideology
  • Religious Change
  • Organisations
  • Social Characteristics
  • Secularisation
  • A-Level Exam Guides – simple overview of question types and how to answer them.

    Key Studies – a list of key names plus a one-line summary of their work for:

  • Families
  • Education
  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Deviance
  • Question Planning Sheet – detailed walkthrough showing how to successfully answer 10 mark education questions.

    The Wider Effects of “Broken Windows”?

    Thursday, September 12th, 2019
    Click to download pdf file

    The impact of so-called “Broken Windows” policing (which invariably turns-out to be an aggressive variant of the policy – Zero-Tolerance Policing (ZTP) – pioneered by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the New York Police Department commissioner William (Bill) Bratton in the early 1990’s) has been argued over for a good number of years.

    For supporters of the policy it was claimed that ZTP resulted in dramatic falls in both “pervasive” (i.e. relatively minor but persistent misdemeanour crime)  and “headline crime rates” (such as homicide) while critics pointed to the fact these falls seemed to have occurred both across America and in areas where ZTP was not in operation.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, little or no attention has been given to what might be called the “fall-out” from ZTP policies; while their impact on crime might be the subject of heated debate, recent research by Fagin and Legewiea (“Aggressive Policing and the Educational Performance of Minority Youth”, 2019) argues that “the consequences of aggressive policing extend into key domains of social life, with implications for the educational trajectories of minority youth and social inequality more broadly”.

    In this respect they have claimed to demonstrate a causal link between the presence of ZTP in an area and the decline in educational attainment of African American boys (interestingly, there is no correlated fall in African American female attainment, nor that of Hispanic youth generally).

    Their findings, in this respect, are somewhat counter-intuitive in the sense that where neighbourhoods are made safer through the impact of ZTP we would expect to see, at best, improved educational achievement and, at worst, little or no change. This, as they argue, highlights the “hidden costs of aggressive policing programs and suggests that police reformers, policymakers, and researchers should consider these broader implications for assessing the effectiveness of policing.”

    One reason cited for this finding is reduced school attendance (absenteeism) by young African American teenagers during periods of intensive police activity in a neighbourhood. The main drivers of absenteeism, in this respect, appear to have been:

  • a desire and / or need for young African Americans to “stay off the streets” during periods of intense police activity (which itself suggests a belief they would be a primary target for police action)
  • the disruptive effect on families of the arrest of parents / guardians during these periods of activity.
  • In addition, the authors argue that aggressive styles of policing, such as those associated with various forms of ZTP, frequently lead to the development of “frequent and negative interactions with authority figures” and the ensuing sense of discrimination “can undermine educational and potentially other outcomes”.

    Finally, it’s just been pointed-out to me on Twitter that the research offers a really easy way to make synoptic links between Deviance and Education.

    Types Of Cybercrime

    Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

    Cybercrime, broadly defined as unlawful behaviour involving the use of computers – either as a tool for committing a crime (such as cyber stalking) or as the target of a crime (such as identity theft) – comes in a number of shapes and disguises and this “reasonably short” (i.e. quite long) PowerPoint Presentation can be used to introduce some of the main types.

    These include, in no particular order:

    Types of Cybercrime PowerPoint: click to download
    Types of Cybercrime
  • Hacking
  • Viruses
  • DDoS Attacks
  • Phishing
  • Spamming
  • Jacking
  • Cyber Stalking
  • Identity Theft
  • Slicing
  • IP Theft
  • As you may have noticed these types all involve, to greater or lesser extents, access to a networked system of computers – hence the idea of cybercrime: “crime that takes place in cyberspace”: pretty much a defining feature of contemporary computer crime.

    Read more stuff about the presentation

    Deviancy Amplification: Some Notes

    Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

    I’ve been editing and updating a piece on Media Effects and decided the section on deviancy application didn’t really fit into what I was trying to do.

    Loathe to completely scrap anything at all I’ve ever written, I thought someone might be able to find some use for it as a standalone piece on deviancy amplification.

    So here it is.

    Make of it what you will.

    Click to Continue…

    Sociology in Focus for A2: Crime Resources

    Sunday, February 24th, 2019

    A further set of free resources to complement the Sociology in Focus For A2 textbook, this batch relates to the Crime and Deviance option:

    A Revision Map

    Overview Map: An introductory map that provides a very general overview of the Module content.

    Revision Maps: These Unit Maps go into much more depth and detail about the content covered throughout the Module and they have a number of uses, not least as a way of introducing the content of each Unit.

    Activity Answers: If you use the activities that have been strategically placed throughout the Module, you’ll probably need some answers. Luckily, I’ve got some.

    Worksheets: These can be used to set individual and group text-based tasks to consolidate and check learning based around three types of activity:

  • Consolidate, designed for individual work to ensure students have “grasped the basics”.
  • Apply, designed to promote analysis, discussion and application through small-group work.
  • Evaluate, designed for whole-class discussions around arguments / evidence for and against a question.
  • Exam Focus provides Top Tips from a Senior Examiner. Be aware, though, that the specific types of questions asked may have changed in the 10 years since this text was published. There are sufficient generic tips, however, to make this section worthwhile.

    Sociology in Focus for A2: Free Textbook

    Sunday, February 10th, 2019

    Sociology in Focus for A2 is, as you may have guessed, the companion volume to the previously-posted AS text and it’s no great surprise that its design and layout perfectly complements its AS counterpart. This includes the by-now standard colour-coded sections, lots of pictures, activities and questions that, at the time, were considered a quite radical design departure that was not, it hardly needs to be said, to everyone’s taste.
    The main concern, particularly but not exclusively among those who were concerned about this kind of thing, was that something had to make way for all the activities, pretty pictures, questions and even prettier pictures.

    And that something was, inevitably, the amount of text that managed to squeeze its way on pages crammed with all kinds of attractive, if sometimes largely superfluous, imagery.

    While it’s relatively easy to get away with this at AS level, it’s somewhat harder to pull-off the same trick at A2 level.

    So does it manage to pull it off?

    Well. Yes and No.

    The text, although limited in length, is generally well-written and informative and sometimes takes students into areas – particularly related to sociological theory – they aren’t usually expected to venture. Unfortunately, by meandering off the beaten track the text runs the risk, at times, of failing to adequately cover the bare essentials.

    Although it’s a moot point as to whether this text alone adequately prepares students for A2, this is where you and your students are quid’s in: you can use bits-and-bobs to supplement the more up-to-date texts you undoubtedly use in your day-to-day teaching.

    Alternatively, it’s a nice, big, bold, colourful text with lots of ideas for activities. And questions.

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    Sociology Revision Cards

    Monday, November 26th, 2018

    Back in the day, before the invention of Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers, students had to make do with Revision Cards – lists of all the key ideas and concepts you might need to know for an exam (you’ll find a selection here if you want to take a trip back to a time before mobile phones ).

    Anyway, I chanced upon a mix of PowerPoint and Pdf Revision Cards (dating from around 2014 so they may require a bit of editing to bring them into line with the latest Specifications) on Chris Deakin’s SociologyHeaven website. I’m guessing the PowerPoints were designed for whole-class revision but if you want to give your students the slides as Revision Cards just use the Export function to create pdf files.

    If you find the Kristen ITC font used in the files a bit too racy for your taste, just convert the text to something like Arial.

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    Crime and Deviance Theories

    Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

    A little while back (maybe 5 or 6 years ago – I lose track) I created 3 Crime and Deviance Presentations that were, I like to think, quite ground-breaking at the time for their combination of text, graphics, audio and video – and while they may be looking a little dated now they still have a little mileage left in them. Probably. You can be the judge of that, I suppose.

    Anyway, I think I only ever posted an early version of the Functionalism file and having rediscovered the files on one of my many hard drives I thought it might be nice to update the files slightly, mainly to fix a few little irritating bugettes, such as text not conforming correctly to the original font size and post them here.

    The Presentations, which can be downloaded as PowerPoint Shows (.ppsx) in case you want to use them without the need to have PowerPoint, were, I think, originally designed as some sort of revision exercise, but I could be, and frequently am, wrong.

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    Themes and Directives: Essay Planning

    Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

    This short PowerPoint Presentation is a classroom tool teachers can use to introduce their students to a way of planning answers to high-mark, extended answer (essay) questions. As such, it’s designed to:

    1. Introduce the idea of Themes and Directives as planning tools.
    2. Show students how to use these tools through a worked example.

    The Presentation is effectively in two parts:

    • if you only want to introduce the planning tools you can do this and then end the Presentation. The worked example is based on an essay question (“Outline and Assess Interactionist Theories of Crime and Deviance”) you may not want to use, which is one reason for dividing the Presentation in this way.

    • if, on the other hand, you want to show your students how to use the tools you can use the complete Presentation. Each of the slides has full explanatory Notes if you need them.

    However, you decide to use it, the Presentation is built around two ideas:

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    (Knife) Crime, Deviance, Media and Methods

    Monday, October 29th, 2018

    “Knife Crime” as you’re probably aware, is increasingly in the news, particularly, but not exclusively, in London (because, quite frankly and a little rhetorically, is there anywhere else of any great significance in England?).

    And while there are Definitely | Maybe | Probably (please delete as inapplicable) all kinds of reliability issues surrounding what counts as “knife crime” (and, indeed, how what counts can actually be counted) that you could explore if you were so inclined, a more pressing social (and, as it happens, sociological) problem is “Who’s responsible?”.

    This, of course, is not an idle question and happily, if that’s the right word, both the social and the sociological problem meet around the notion of “gangs” (and “youth gangs” in particular).

    However, before we start to develop some sort of hypothesis that might explain the relationship between “youth gangs” and the increase in serious knife crime (“knife crime with injury”) you might want to try this simple, single question, quiz on your students as a prelude to the serious stuff of explaining the data.

    As befits my sociological inexactitude I’ve formulated the quantitative quiz in either of two ways (one open-ended, the other closed-ended):

    And you call that a Staffie? Really? Sort it out!

    Either:

    Q1. In your own words, what percentage of “knife crime with injury” in London is committed by youth gangs?

    Or:

    Q1. In London, what percentage of “knife crime with injury” is committed by youth gangs?

    1. 45%?
    2. 4%?

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    Stealing to Offer: A Market Reduction Approach

    Thursday, October 25th, 2018

    While Situational Crime Prevention (SCP) strategies come in many forms, the majority focus on identifying and developing ways to stop an offence taking place.

    Market Reduction Approaches, however, while sharing a similar crime reduction / elimination objective, are a little different because their focus is on preventing offenders profiting from various forms of economic crime, such as theft, by reducing the markets for stolen goods.

    While this may seem a little counter-intuitive – how effective is a “crime prevention approach” that says little or nothing about actually preventing crime? – there is evidence to suggest (Sutton, 2008) that preventing offenders liquidating stolen assets is an effective form of crime prevention and control.

    In general, ideas about Situational Crime Prevention fall into two main categories:

    1. Reducing the potential benefits offenders get from their crimes.

    2. Increasing the potential costs offenders face when deciding whether or not to commit a crime.

    Most situational crime prevention initiatives have generally given greater attention to the latter, while less interest has been shown in the former. Although there may be a number of reasons for this, one possibility is the belief that increasing costs reduces crime and therefore obviates the need to address the “benefit reduction problem”: reducing levels of crime by increasing costs, so this argument goes, effectively takes the “benefit problem” out of the equation.

    However, the idea that increasing the costs of crime actually reduces crime – as opposed, for example, to displacing it – is one that has come to be increasingly questioned, partly because it doesn’t address an offender’s underlying motivations for crime.

    If, for example, one motive is to commit a crime, such as theft, in order to sell stolen goods for cash to buy drugs, making it harder and riskier to steal simply ups-the-ante for the offender, rather than necessarily preventing a crime from taking place.

    A Market Reduction Approach (MRA) to crime takes the opposite view: rather than controlling crime by making the act itself more difficult and riskier, it argues that making it more difficult or, ideally, impossible, for offenders to benefit from their crimes – by restricting or eliminating their ability to convert stolen goods into cash for example – is a highly-effective form of crime prevention.

    What’s their value if you can’t sell them?

    In this respect, MRA suggests the costs of crime shouldn’t be treated as being separate from and unconnected to its potential benefits. Rather, such costs are, in effect, rolled-up into “a lack of benefit”, such as an inability to sell the goods you have stolen.

    The logic here is that if you can’t convert what you’ve stolen – such as a mobile phone or computer – into cash, it takes away the incentive and motivation to steal them in the first place. This follows for two reasons:

    1. There’s little point in taking the risk of stealing something if it is worthless to you (unless, of course, you particularly like hoarding mobile phones, computers, various electrical goods and the like)

    2. You are left to store a range of worthless goods that, if discovered, may lead to jail time.

    Sutton argues here that an effective MRA involves reducing:

    • the number of offers of stolen goods made by thieves to potential buyers
    • the outlets for stolen goods
    • the number of thieves and handlers by encouraging them to explore non-criminal alternatives, rather than just alternative crimes.

    The logic here is one that reduces the need to increasingly “raise the costs of crime” (with all its attendant private and public expenditure, inconvenience and so forth) by focusing police and public attention on reducing the benefits of crime. If an offender knows they will gain no benefit – because they can’t convert their crimes into cash – this removes most of, if not all, their motivation for crime.

    This has the additional social benefit of both reducing the costs of dealing with offenders (through arrests, prosecutions, prisons and so forth) and reducing the risk of offending / re-offending; if a potential offender is demotivated by a sound knowledge of a lack of perceived benefit, there is little reason to suppose they will continue to offend.

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    Rational Choice Theory | 1a

    Monday, October 1st, 2018

    If you’ve had a look at the Rational Choice Theory | 1 post and were wondering if there are further parts “in the pipeline”, the short answer is “Yes”.

    There will be a further part that gives RCT a good critical kicking the once-over in terms of weaknesses and limitations.

    I’ve written most of it but am still messing around with the order of things, plus I need to think about how I can express the ideas of bounded rationality and bounded choices in a way that doesn’t overly-confuse A-level students.

    In the meantime, while you’re waiting I thought it might be useful to put the text-heavy Part 1 into a more-visual form, via a simple PowerPoint Presentation, in case you find it easier to talk-and-teach students through this material.

    And who doesn’t?

    Rational Choice Theory | 1

    Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

    This first of two posts on Rational Choice Theory (RCT) provides an overview of a key New Right theory whose central argument about criminal rationality underpins a range of later Right Realist explanations for crime.

    Rational Choice Theory (RCT) is one of a group of theories – including Broken Windows and Routine Activities Theory – that applies ideas developed to explain economic behaviour – in particular the idea individuals are rational and self-interested – to the explanation of criminal behaviour. The theory reflects, as Wilson (1983) puts it, the idea that “some scholars, especially economists, believe that the decision to become a criminal can be explained in much the same way as we explain the decision to become a carpenter or to buy a car”.

    Gary Becker

    While ideas about individual self-interest and rational choices in economic behaviour are well-established, their application to crime and criminal motivations, initially through the work of economists such as Becker (1968), gives them a contemporary twist that can be outlined in the following way:

    1. Offenders are not qualitatively different to non-offenders

    There’s nothing in the sociological or psychological background of offenders that either causes or explains their offending. To take a simple example: while many poor, deprived, individuals commit crimes, many more from the same social background do not.

    A key concept here is agency: the idea people make choices about their behaviour that are neither determined nor necessarily influenced by their social and / or psychological backgrounds. Rather, choices are made in the context of particular situations – particularly the opportunities that are available for the commission of crimes.

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    Shortcuts to Crime and Deviance: Women and Crime

    Thursday, September 6th, 2018

    While the first film in the Gender and Crime series looked at the ideas of Gendering Crime (in every society males commit far more crimes than females) and masculinity as an explanation for greater male criminal involvement, this second film – once again built around interviews with Professor Sandra Walklate – focuses on women and crime (hence the title “Women and Crime”).

    The first part identifies some reasons for the increase in female crime and criminality over the past 25 years (albeit from a very low base. Historically women commit far fewer crimes than men so even a relatively small increase in female crime results in quite large percentage increases). These include:

    • Greater female freedoms
    • Binge drinking
    • Increased public domain participation

    • Changing criminal justice practices
    • Less judicial tolerance of female criminality
    • Economic and demographic changes.

    The second part looks briefly at the impact of 2nd wave feminist perspectives on criminology over the past 50 or so years, particularly in relation to issues of sexual and domestic violence. This part covers:

    • Patriarchy
    • Male power
    • Sexual and domestic violence
    • Empowering women
    • Hidden deviance
    • Expanding the criminological agenda.

    Shortcuts to Crime and Deviance: Gendering the Criminal

    Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

    Professor Sandra Walklate talks about the relationship between gender and crime and explains how and why masculinity offers a partial, but not necessarily sufficient, explanation for the over-representation of young men in the crime statistics.

    • Gender and crime
    • Masculinity

    • Femininity
    • Gender socialisation
    • Edgework (Lyng)
    • Cultural expectations of masculinity
    • Masculinity and the public domain
    • Opportunity and opportunity structures
    • Social construction of gender
    • Female “double punishment”
    • Masculinity and crime
    • Unpacking masculinity
    • Gangs and gang cultures

    The Crime and Deviance Channel

    Thursday, August 30th, 2018

    The Crime and Deviance Channel now offers a wide range of free Text, PowerPoint, Audio and Video resources organised into 5 categories:

    1. Theories
    2. Social Distribution
    3. Power and Control
    4. Globalisation
    5. Research Methods

    Each category contains a mix of content:

    Text materials range from complete pdf chapters to a variety of shorter “Update” materials (quizzes, research synopses, items “In the News”) related to key sociological theories, concepts, issues and methods.

    PowerPoint resources range from single slides designed as a high-impact visual background to the explanation of key theories and concepts, to complete Presentations that can be used to introduce or illuminate a particular general theme.

    Audio materials consist of 17 podcasts designed to provide background briefing material, talking points (comparing different theories for example), updates on new research and revision exercises.

    Video resources generally consist of short clips (currently around 30 separate films ranging in length from 1 to several minutes) designed to illustrate key concepts, introduce new research and researchers and stimulate classroom-based thinking and discussion.

    The Dark Side of Family Life: Domestic Abuse

    Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

    The issue of domestic abuse has hit the headlines recently with the start of both the 2018 World Cup and not-uncoincidentally, a “Give Domestic Abuse the Red Card” campaign promoted by a range of police forces and widely-reported in both old and new media.

    The campaign highlights the relationship between domestic violence (defined in terms of some form of physical assault) and the outcome of England football matches and is intended to draw attention to the social problem of domestic violence by connecting it to an event on which the eyes of the nation are currently fixed.

    While the intention to may be laudable – domestic violence was arguably, until very recently, an “invisible crime” rarely perceived or investigated by the authorities as anything more than a “domestic dispute” – the campaign is, intentionally or otherwise, being a little disingenuous with its selection and presentation of evidence.

    While the campaign claim that “Domestic Abuse rates rise 38% when England lose” is demonstrably true, the implication this is a nationwide increase is rather more open to question. The claim seems to be based on research by Kirby, Francis and O’Flahery (2014) who analysed police reports of “domestic abuse” (which they defined in terms of physical violence) during the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

    While the analysis did indeed show “violent incidents increased by 38% when England lost” we need to note a couple of qualifications:

    1. In what they acknowledge was “a relatively small study”, the rise was recorded in the one police force (Lancashire) they analysed. While it’s possible to speculate similar rises may have been recorded in other areas of the country this is not something supported by the evidence from this particular study.

    2. The implied casual relationship between “England losing” and an increase in male violence towards their partner is somewhat clouded by Kirby et al’s observation that male domestic abuse “also rose by 26% when England won”.

    Two further problematic areas in the campaign are also worth noting:

    1. The focus on male domestic abuse and the implication domestic violence is not only a “problem of masculinity” but a very particular form of working-class masculinity ignores the increasing evidence of female domestic abuse. The Office for National Statistics (2018) for example estimates a roughly 66% female – 33% male ratio of victimisation (1.2 million female and 713,000 male reported victims) and while this imbalance is clearly important it also suggests that abuse causality is more-complex than it might, at first sight, appear.

    2. The implication “abuse” is has only one dimension (physical violence). Again, the ONS (2018) suggests this is only one – albeit immediate and important – dimension of domestic abuse and we need to be aware of other, perhaps less immediate – dimensions.

    In this respect, while the campaign and its relationship to the study on which it seems to be based raise interesting questions about how and to what end sociological research is used, a more-nuanced way to develop student understanding of the issues and debates surrounding domestic abuse and the darker side of family life is to use the recent Office for National Statistics’ Research Bulletin on “Domestic Abuse in England and Wales” (2018).

    While this offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of the debate (in addition to useful observations about the reliability and validity of domestic abuse data that can be linked to the crime and deviance module – “Domestic abuse is often a hidden crime that is not reported to the police, which is why the estimated number of victims is much higher than the number of incidents and crimes recorded by the police. Of the cases which do come to the attention of the police, many, although still recorded as incidents and dealt with as required, will fall short of notifiable offences and are therefore not recorded as crimes.”) most students (and teachers come to that) will probably find the summary of its main points most accessible and memorable.

    Youth Subcultures: The Changing Face of Gangs

    Thursday, June 7th, 2018

    Unlike in the USA, where the study of “gangs” and “gang culture” – from “Street Corner Society” to “Gang Leader for A Day” – is firmly embedded in the sociological mainstream, the empirical study of UK gangs is fairly limited.

    This makes it all the more interesting that, over the past 10 years, Waltham Forest Council in London has been responsible for commissioning two major Reports into gang behaviour in the Borough (and beyond) that give a valuable insight into the sociological background to both gang origins (including definitions and typologies) and development: the claim gangs are moving away from relatively simple “status models” that focus on the idea of “surrogate families” to a more-complex economic model that sees gangs as part of an illegal network economy that both shadows and, at some points intersects with, legal economic behaviour.

    If you have the time the two Reports are worth reading for the different insights they give into gangs and gang behaviour:

    The first, John Pitts’ “Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest (2007), has a lot of useful information on areas like:

    • Defining Gangs
    • Explaining how and why gangs emerge
    • Youth Gangs and the Drugs Market
    • Gang Members, Culture and Violence
    • The Social Impact of Gangs

    Throughout the Report Pitts’ references a wide range of sociological studies that will be familiar to students studying crime and deviance, something that should help them make connections between wider sociological theories of deviance and the specific development of gang-based youth subcultures.

    The second – Whittaker et. al’s “From Postcodes to Profit: How gangs have changed in Waltham Forest” (2018) – is equally worth a read because although it covers a lot of similar ground to Pitt’s initial work, its focus is less on the sociological origins of gangs and more on locating them in the social and economic structure of the area, in this case Waltham Forest, in which they arise and are embedded.

    Although Whittaker et al necessarily look at ideas about gang structures and membership, from definitions, through typologies to an important and interesting section on a relatively-neglected area, the role of girls in gangs, this material is largely a scene-setter for a wider debate about the evolution of gangs in this area of London. More-specifically, the author’s central argument is one that sees contemporary gangs, at least in London, developing into what are primarily economic entities: the section on “Gangs, technology and social media”, which looks at things like “brand development and promotion” is particularly interesting and demonstrates how various forms of new technology – from mobile hardware to platform software – have been rapidly adopted and integrated into gang cultures and structures. An interesting measure of this rapid integration is that Pitts’ said nothing about the gang use of social media a little over 10 years ago.

    While both Reports contain a lot of useful information relating to both wider areas like Crime and Deviance and more-specific areas like Youth Subcultures (and, as an added bonus, are both written in language that’s very accessible to A-level students), if you don’t have the time or inclination to read them, the recent publication of “From Postcodes to Profits” has spawned some useful media coverage that captures some of the major ideas contained within the Report. In this respect, it’s worth looking at:

    1. London gangs driven by desire to profit from drug trade.

    2. Gangs: More violent, ruthless and organised than ever.