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With reference to the concept of social harm, critically discuss the limitations of the concept of ‘crime’. Illustrate your answer with material from at least two blocks and both of the data sources provided:
Please include information about Structure and Agency, Power and Inequality, zemiology and social harm
Source One: the Office for National Statistics data on the ‘Number of homicide incidents, England and Wales, year ending March 2001 to year ending March 2021’, which you can access here: Homicide in England and Wales: year ending March 2021 in Figure 2
Source Two: Health and Safety Executive data on ‘Key facts’ and ‘Work-related ill health’, which you can access here: Health and safety at work: summary statistics for Great Britain 2021 on pages 2 and 3.
(both of these articles have been attached as PDFs)
Block 4 has introduced you to the idea that the concept of ‘crime’ is limited in terms of understanding the governmental and state responses to a variety of different ‘social harms’. The essay question for TMA 05 is phrased in a way that directs you to consider what behaviours are captured by the concept of social harm but are ignored by the concept of ‘crime’; it suggests that some of these social harms might be significant, even if they are not classed as crimes. Are these social harms actually significant? Should they be defined as crimes – or not? Do your answers to these questions point to any limitations of the concept of crime? These are the kinds of questions implied in asking you to ‘critically discuss’: the question invites you to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of using each concept. In this way, you are critically evaluating zemiology and its main contribution – the concept of ‘social harm’ – as well as criminology and its main concept of ‘crime’.
It is important to bear in mind, then, that this essay is about using evidence of social harm to consider the limitations of the concept of crime; it is not asking you for a desсrіption of what is meant by the concept of social harm.
As well as critically examining the two data sources, answers must engage fully with ideas explored in Block 4 about how and why some harms (often quite significant harms) are not treated as crimes, so these harms, and their victims, remain ‘invisible’. When looking at the data from the ONS and HSE reports, you may want to ask yourself: what is officially counted as ‘crime’, and what kinds and scale of harms do these definitions exclude? How do the harms captured by the concepts of ‘crime’ and ‘social harm’ compare in terms of, for example, their physical costs? What knowledge about crime, harm and their victims is produced through these official statistics? What are the limitations of the concept of ‘crime’ for addressing structures of power and inequality that generate harm and victims of harm? And what are the limitations of social harm – might it be preferable to maintain distinctions between crime and social harm?
Among the examples you use to illustrate your discussion, you must refer to the two quantitative data sources provided. These respectively present statistics on the annual number of homicide incidents in England and Wales from 2001 until 2021, and figures collated by the Health and Safety Executive reporting a variety of statistics relating to health and safety at work in Great Britain.
Your discussion of these data might consider that the ONS data refers to the numbers of homicides (‘homicide incidents’) recorded year on year. In contrast, much of the data in the HSE report refers to estimates. So, part of working with these data sources is considering the nature of the data presented itself – the terms used to present it, how accurate it claims to be, etc. You should also think about what is not counted in the data, what you consider its strengths and limitations to be, and so on.
You will need to compare the health and safety and homicide data and reflect on the insights they provide into the nature and scale of different types of harms to individuals – some treated as criminal, others not. What can you say about the homicide data alongside the health and safety at work data? How can you link these observations into an understanding of the concepts of ‘social harm’ and ‘crime’? Remember that the central focus of your TMA is on the limitations of the concept of ‘crime’. You are asked to develop a critical discussion of this, using ‘social harm’ as a point of reference. Your exploration of the data sources – and the insights into the two concepts this exploration provides – will supply one source of evidence to support your arguments, alongside the module materials.
PLEASE READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS FULLY With reference to the concept of social h
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