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NCJ Number: 64471 Find in a Library
Title: THEORIES OF 'COMMON SENSE' ON CRIMINALITY AND MARGINALIZATION - A POLL OF THE GERMAN POPULATION
Journal: QUESTIONE CRIMINALE  Volume:3  Issue:1  Dated:(JANUARY-APRIL 1977)  Pages:137-165
Author(s): G SMAUS
Corporate Author: Societa Editrice Il Mulino
Italy
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 29
Sponsoring Agency: Societa Editrice Il Mulino
40125, Bologna, Italy
Format: Article
Language: Italian
Country: Italy
Annotation: PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD DEVIANCE, CRIME, CRIMINALS, AND MARGINALITY 'EVERY DAY' OR 'COMMON SENSE' THEORIES, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM OFFICIAL CRIMINAL CODE DEFINITIONS) WERE THE SUBJECT OF A WEST GERMAN SURVEY.
Abstract: A SURVEY CONDUCTED AMONG A SAMPLING OF 100 WEST GERMAN CITIZENS REVEALED THAT THE MAJORITY OF LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS PERCEIVE DEVIANCE AND CRIMINALITY (AT LEAST, WITH REGARD TO PROPERTY CRIMES AND MOST CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS) AS ENDEMIC TO THE LOWER SCIOECONOMIC STRATA OF THE POPULATION, A DEFINITE CLASS STEREOTYPING OF THE DEVIANT AND CRIMINAL PERSONALITY. ONE-TIME OFFENSES COMMITTED BY OTHERWISE LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS WITH POSITIVE TIES TO FAMILY AND COMMUNITY DID NOT TURN THE OFFENDER INTO A DEVIANT OR A CRIMINAL IN THE EYES OF HIS RELATIVES AND FRIENDS. HOWEVER, ALL MEMBERS OF THE LOWER CLASSES WERE DESCRIBED AS POTENTIAL CRIMINALS AND WHEN THEY COMMIT CRIMES, THEY MUST RECEIVE PRISON SENTENCES. ECONOMIC CRIMES COMMITTED BY WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINALS, OFTEN REFERRED TO AS 'GENTLEMEN'S CRIMES,' AND NOT STIGMATIZED IN ANY WAY BY THE CITIZENS SURVEYED, WERE DESCRIBED AS REQUIRING ONLY ECONOMIC SANCTIONS, OR FINES. THE RESPONDENTS' CONCEPTS OF WHAT CONSTITUTES CRIMINAL CONDUCT WERE GENERALLY IN AGREEMENT WITH THE OFFICIAL CRIMINAL CODE DEFINITIONS, WITH THE NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS OF TAX EVASION AND TRAFFIC-RELATED OFFENDERS, WHICH DID NOT APPEAR ON ANYONE'S LIST. WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES WERE VERY SELDOM INCLUDED. TEMPORARY INSANITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS WERE INDICATED AS TRAITS CHARACTERIZING OFFENDERS. SEXUAL CRIMES WERE ASCRIBED TO PSYCHOPATHS WITH GROSSLY ABNORMAL SEXUAL DRIVES. ABNORMALLY GREEDY AND IDLE INDIVIDUALS, WITH NEGATIVE SOCIAL ATTITUDES, WERE DEFINED AS THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATES FOR PROPERTY CRIMES, WHILE INTELLECTUALS WERE EXPECTED TO COMMIT TERRORIST ACTS. AMONG THE CAUSES OF CRIME WERE THE SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS OF THE OFFENDER, OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES, ANTISOCIAL ATTITUDES, LOW INTELLIGENCE, AND ANOMIE RESULTING FROM A CONSISTENT PATTERNS OF ADULT-LIFE FAILURES. IN RESPONSE TO A HYPOTHESIZED CRIME COMMITTED BY A FRIEND, RESPONDENTS EXPRESSED AMBIGUOUS, MOSTLY PRAGMATIC ATTITUDES, DICTATED ABOVE ALL BY THE DESIRE TO AVOID GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. HOWEVER, IF THE CRIME WERE TERRORISM, RESPONDENTS ENVISIONED EVERYONE AN IMMEDIATE BREACH OF RELATIONS WITH THE OFFENDER AND HIS FAMILY. THE SURPRISINGLY OPEN-MINDED ATTITUDES WHICH WERE EXPRESSED WITH REGARD TO ACCEPTANCE AND REINTEGRATION OF EX-OFFENDERS INTO SOCIETY AND THE WORK FORCE WERE NOT CONSIDERED ENTIRELY RELIABLE BY THE RESEARCHERS. THE MOST IMPORTANT VARIABLE REVEALED BY THE SURVEY WAS THE PERVASIVE CLASS-CONSCIOUSNESS AND PREJUDICES. A BIBLIOGRAPHY IS APPENDED. --IN ITALIAN. (LGR)
Index Term(s): Behavior typologies; Crime Causes; Deviance; Germany; Labeling theory; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Social classes; Surveys
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64471

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