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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78573 Find in a Library
Title: Society and the Perception of Criminal Deviant Behavior
Author(s): J C Weinberger; P Jakubowoicz; P Robert
Corporate Author: Services D'Etudes Penales et Criminologiques
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 241
Sponsoring Agency: Services D'Etudes Penales et Criminologiques
75001 Paris, France
Format: Document
Language: French
Country: France
Annotation: The study explores the possibility of determining a consensus among the French population on the degree of seriousness of criminal offenses and of developing a crime index which reflects the opinions of various social groups on the gravity of violations.
Abstract: Survey data are collected with a specially designed, pretested questionnaire from a representative sample of 1,800 French citizens. The questionnaire contains 65 descriptions of criminal deviant behavior which respondents must rate on a numeric scale. For group analysis, factors considered are profession, activities, religion, education, place of residence, political views, sex, age, and exposure to the press. Consensus group measures are the general level, the national level, the nonsalaried lower middle class, the salaried lower middle class, and the working class. Results indicate that for almost half the behaviors tested, no agreement can be reached on offense gravity. In fact, agreement on the seriousness of an offense was only general for 10 percent of the behaviors examined. Even within the class groups tested, views on crime seriousness are not homogeneous. These differences are attributed to differences in social status and to varying degrees of identification with the goals and values of the dominant classes which control legal norms. The absence of a national consensus on the gravity of crimes is deemed to invalidate the possibility of establishing a crime index on the basis of statistical analyses, as previous researchers have proposed. It is concluded that the social norms expressed by existing laws do not conform to the ideological needs of the age, which explains the decline of confidence in the law. In general, the French population is unable to agree on whether or not to tolerate new customs, whether or not to support the principle of private property on which the French system is based, and whether or not to allow social elites which permit certain abuses. Appendixes contain a list of offenses, sample questionnaires and instructions for administration, a description of the sample, a list of abbreviations, and extensive tables of statistics on views of various subpopulations. Extensive bibliographic endnotes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Behavior typologies; Capitalism; Crime seriousness measures; France; Marxism; Offense classification; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Social classes; Socialism
Note: Deviance et Controle Sociale, Number 21.
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