Christie's Argument That Crime Does Not Exist

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This essay will critically evaluate and investigate the Norwegian criminologist and sociologist Nile Christie’s (2004) statement that ‘crime does not exist’. It will evaluate why this claim was made with reference to other criminologists views, while analysing the impact of this statement and its implications on the discipline of criminology. This essay will assess the various definitions of crime, examine crime as a social construct and will critically evaluate the various reasons for Christie’s (2004) claim. With examination of these factors a conclusion can be generated which will portray whether Christie’s (2004) idea is viable or whether ‘crime’ actually does exist. Crime does not have a fixed definition and can be assessed in either…show more content…
Within Nile Christie’s book ‘A suitable amount of crime’ he states, “for all acts including those seen as unwanted, there are dozens of possible alternatives to their understanding; bad, mad, evil, misplaced honour, youth bravado, political heroism or crime” (Christie, 2004:10). This is insinuating that ‘acts’ which conflict with the law may occur due to multiple explanations, either individually generated or developed due to the social framework within society. Steinert (1986) agrees and supports this statement by explaining that the motives for crime can be seen as ‘trouble’ and that deviant ‘acts’ which are the consequence of these motives are also labelled as ‘trouble’. Steinert (1986) then summarises by explaining that the term ‘crime’ is developed primarily by society defining and giving meanings to these troubles’. Hulsman (1986) agrees and shares this viewpoint stating that ‘crime’ is made up of numerous diverse disputes and conflicts which have no direct relation to one another except for the fact that they infringe the criminal law. Therefore supporting the evidence of Christie (2004) that ‘crime’ is socially constructed depending on the various social frameworks and is formed by ‘acts’ which have entirely different aetiologies and which must be dealt with individually. Scraton (1987) adds that the image and views on 'crime' are developed due to a ‘label’ which is applied to systematically identify and criminalise certain

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