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Understanding DevianceA Guide to the Sociology of Crime and Rule-Breaking

Understanding Deviance: A Guide to the Sociology of Crime and Rule-Breaking (7th edn)

David Downes, Paul Rock, and Eugene McLaughlin
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date: 29 January 2023

p. 26711. Feminist Criminologylocked

p. 26711. Feminist Criminologylocked

  • David Downes, David DownesEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics
  • Paul RockPaul RockEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics
  •  and Eugene McLaughlinEugene McLaughlinProfessor of Criminology, City University


This chapter deals with feminist criminology and the critique of a traditionally masculine-driven discipline. It considers feminist arguments about the relationship between the criminality of women and their subordinate position and life experiences and the role of gender in theories of crime and deviance. It first considers Carol Smart’s views, as well as those of other theorists such as O. Pollak, W. I. Thomas, L. Gelsthorpe, and A. Morris. It then examines substantive areas where significant work has been accomplished in the field of feminist criminology: the ‘female emancipation leads to crime’ debate; the invalidation of the ‘leniency’ hypothesis; the relations between gender, crime, and social control; gender-specific crime; the increased prominence of the female victim in political and academic analysis; the gendered nature of victimization and criminalization; male violence; and intersectionality of class-race-gender inequalities. It concludes with a review of criticisms against feminist criminology.

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