Why do men commit crime?
BIG QUESTION: What is it
about being male that leads
men to offend?
Masculinity and Crime
• Masculinity = ?
• Those characteristics which are associated
with being a man e.g. Earning the
money, heterosexual, being
tough, unstoppable sex machine?
Explaining male crime: male roles and
• Bob Connell Normative masculinity= the socially approved
idea of what masculinity is.
• Connell argued that normative masculinity is so prized that
men struggle to live up to its expectations.
• He believes the idea of masculinity is not something natural,
but is something that males achieve as an ‘accomplishment’
and is constantly being worked at.
• More powerful males will achieve their masculinity in
different ways and contexts from less powerful males.
• The example is given of businessmen who express their power
through control in the workplace and less successful men who
express power through violence at home or in the street.
Crime and masculinities
• He says that young men want to conform to the
dominant form of masculinity which he called
‘hegemonic masculinity’. It is the idealised form
which is: ‘defined through work in the paid labour
market, the subordination of women, hetrosexism
and the uncontrollable sexuality of men’.
This is the form of masculinity that most men aim to
accomplish –it is prized and prestigious
• Arguing that crime and deviance are resources
different men use to accomplish the prestigious
• Depending on their status and class position different
men attempt to accomplish this in different ways
1 Young middle class males are usually able to
demonstrate some form of masculinity through success
at school or college.
However this comes at a price- subordination to
teachers. Some assert their masculinity outside of
school through vandalism, theft, heavy drinking etc.
Messerschmidt Crime, masculinities and
2 White working class young men are less
likely to be successful in education and their
masculinity is constructed around physical
aggression and anti-social behaviour
3 Working class young men from ethnic
minority backgrounds with little chance of
academic masculinity seek to assert their
masculinity in street gangs.
Messerschmidt Social class and
4 Even the middle class who have the means
to accomplish hegemonic masculinity use
crime to express masculinity. Messerschmidt
argues that white collar crime can be
explained by it being a way of accomplishing
masculinity as being seen as an assertive, risk
taking, aggressive male.
Criticisms of Messerschmidt/Connell
1. Circular argument: masculinity explains male crimes
because they are crimes committed by males
2. Over predicts crime. For example why do only a
minority of men from all social classes and ethnic
backgrounds feel the need to assert masculinity
3. Do all men want to aspire to an idea of hegemonic
4. He uses the idea of masculinity to explain all crimes. Is
this stretching it too far?
In each box, list examples of ways in which different groups of
males ‘accomplish’ masculinity.
Middle-class males Lower-class males
Jack Katz (1988)
• Katz: The Seduction of Crime POSTMODERN PERSPECTIVE
• Katz (1988) argues that most of criminology has ignored
the importance that the pursuit of pleasure has on people
• Katz argues that by understating the thrills that breaking
the law provides, we can begin to understand why males
• He uses the examples of armed robbery, football
hooliganism and the use of drugs and alcohol to show this.
• Most youths have an identity crisis in a time of boredom
and crisis – this can be resolved in criminal activity
• Katz’s work was heavily influenced by the work of Matza
who looked at the idea of delinquency and drift. (young
men drift in and out of crime at certain parts of their
We are going to watch a clip from Football
Factory – it is very violent and the language is
• It is your job to evaluate whose explanation is
better for what you see – Katz or
Messerschmidt / Connell?