Crime and Deviance: Link between Leisure, Culture and Crime
A wide research has shown that there is a connection between violence, drinking and social disorder. There is great importance of leisure time for young people in the society today. In every culture, some hours of the day are such when there is no requirement on the part of young people to be formally engaged in activities. These activities can include paid work, going to school or engage in any kind of household work. Instead, people choose to be involved in various activities, such as private and public programmes, leisure activities, etc. These hours and related activities are viewed as optional and not necessary (Bennett & Holloway 2005).
Activities performed in these leisure hours time are not much viewed by policy makers, but they are well observed by young people. Due to low public recognition, policy makers and planners of programmes as well as the public have few complaints about the concerned situations. However, when crime rates go up, the quantity as well as the quality of discretionary hours of young people is usually diminished by the strict curfews (The Relationship Between Alcohol Availability and Injury and Crime 2005). In order to shed more light on the issue of connections between culture, leisure and crime, recent controversies related to the violence in Kings Road, Australia are discussed so as to know the actual nature and significance of this link.
Link between leisure, culture and crime
Kings Road Australia has recently faced controversies related to violence by people owing to their drunken behavior, drug overdose and facing assault charges. There has been increasing number of cases of violence by drunken youngsters on Kings Road. On the New Year eve for 2014, a man was accused of going on a violent rampage which eventually led to one men left in critical condition, who later succumbed to his injuries. He is the latest public victim to what is called the culture of violence (Fifth charge laid over violent rampage in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve 2014). Earlier in 2012, drunken behavior was shown by youngsters that led to their arrest for charged related to assault and drug use. A teenager named Thomas Kelly died during the night of the assault. The government decided to introduce tough laws for stopping the patrons to buy multiple drinks, shots and making the venues have two service of alcohol marshals as responsible for preventing any case of violence (Kings Cross drinks ban to curb violence 2012).
Considering the above situation of increasing number of violence, crime and assault cases, it is essential to understand the connection and relationship between the leisure, culture and crime. Drinking alcohol is a part of culture of various countries around the globe including Australia. As a part of the culture, many people have been drunk in their time. Alcohol does not cause violence and the term, ‘alcohol fuelled violence’ is quite misleading. Some scholars argue that there is no sense in demolishing the pleasurable factor of alcohol by including factors, such as ban on advertising of alcohol, etc. Refocusing the efforts on taking violent thugs in a ruthless way so as to put them out of the social and civil circulation is what is necessary. It will gradually lead to reduction of cultural appeal of violence (Don’t blame the booze, it’s zero tolerance on violence that’s needed 2014).
The public health elite section of the society believe in the availability hypothesis that enactment of more strict laws for restricting access to alcohol for everyone will bring about reduction in culture related violence in the place. Those who are having the view that restrictions to leisure generating source can lead to prevention of violence usually make use of this availability approach. Hayward and Young (2004) further takes on the argument by mentioning the terms such as cultural criminology. The term seeks to highlight the constant interplay of moral innovation, moral entrepreneurship and transgression. Throughout history, there have been occurrences of continual references of cultural nature of crime and control. The mediation for the link can be found through news and literature, and fact and fiction. In the cultural criminology, there has been extraordinary emphasis on the aspects of individualism, creativity and generation of a particular lifestyle including leisure time activities in the current time. It is also coupled with intervention of mass media that has well expanded and proliferated in order to give way to transformation of human subjectivity. From this modern perspective, the communities in the virtual world have become as real as those communities that are present outside the door and reference groups of people (Hayward & Young 2004).
There is inclusion of words like ‘wars against crime’, terrorism, drugs and anti-social behavior in the crime control industry and they demand just numbers, facts, and quantitative incomes as well as outcomes. A mention of adrenaline rush of crime can be seen in the cultural criminology that provide evidence for the relationship between the culture, leisure activities and crime. Occurrence of adrenaline rush of crime takes place between panic and pleasure that does fit various feelings of humiliation, excitement, anger, exuberance, fear, etc. (Hall & Winlow 2005)
Flowing of adrenalin and excitement, and terror and pleasure do not occur just through the experience of criminality, but also through various connecting factors, like crime, victimization of crime and justice for the crime that has taken place (Pain 2000).
The connection between alcohol drinking as leisure activity and violent crime
Concepts such as drinking and driving have received a great level of the attention from both public and media. However, the relationship between alcohol and crime has not yet reached the same level of attention. The relationship between crimes and alcohol includes robbery, domestic abuse, assault, underage drinking, and sexual assault. The fact is that 5.3 million adults were drunk at the time when they committed violent crime. Alcohol has become a major factor in 40% of all the violent crimes that occur today (The Relationship Between Alcohol Availability and Injury and Crime 2005).
These violent crimes include aggravated and simple assault, rape, robbery, etc. The recent controversies related to violent crimes on Kings Cross also indicate the relationship between drugs and alcohol taken by people as part of their leisure routine and the rate of crime. A study has shown that the there is a relationship between the number of alcohol outlets and violent assaults (Seddon 2000). The study by Scribner, Mackinnon and Dwyer showed that every additional outlet of alcohol has an association with 3.4 additional assaults every year (The Relationship Between Alcohol Availability and Injury and Crime 2005).
Alcohol abuse and dependence is related with the CJS (Criminal Justice System). The CJS usually makes the gives emphasis on the connection between crime and use of illicit drugs. It is not essential that drinking always result in crime and violence. There is no mention of a direct pharmacological effect of alcohol that leads to occurrence of alcohol related crime. The characteristic of the individuals, such as social, psychological, physical and attitudinal factors contribute to the level of interaction with the effects of alcohol in specific context of drinking. All these factors in turn are located within the larger scenario of social and cultural context. The alcohol-crime connection is further explained in a multi-level framework proposed Graham and West (Martin 2001).
According to this framework, the outer rectangle in dark represents the cultural context for assessing the behavior related to drinking and crime. It includes expectations, attitudes and norms, which play a significant role in shaping the extent to which people drink as part of their leisure time activities. It also assesses the behavior of people when they are drunk and the type of social control exhibited in such situations over both crime and drinking. These factors vary significantly across cultures. Within any particular cultural or societal scenario, one can find wide extent of variability in behavior related to alcohol consumption. It depends on the situational context in which the drinking and crime occurs. It is represented in the framework by nested smaller rectangle. As discussed earlier, characteristics of individuals within the given setting also affect the possibility of crime to take place. It is represented in the framework by three small rectangles that represent differences in individuals within a particular drinking setting. The characteristics vary according to differences in demographics, expectations, attitudes and qualities of the individual personality, like impulsivity (Martin 2001). The framework is presented below:
(Source: Martin 2001)
Summing up all the factors, the connection between crime and alcohol is subject to various factors that operate in a simultaneous manner. There are effects of alcohol on aggression. It increases the intensity of violence and aggravates the situation. It affects the physiological processes in a person. For instance, it has been found out that alcohol has an effect on GABA-benzodiazepine receptor complex present in the brain. It leads to reduction of the anxiety about the negative results or consequences of exhibiting an aggressive behavior. In the context of controversies related to violence at Kings Cross shows that the individual characteristics of the person led to the incident. The person named McNeil was heavily drunk and used his mixed martial arts fighting skills that led to the punching of the victim Mr. Christie and he was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition (Fifth charge laid over violent rampage in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve 2014).
It was an alcohol fuelled violence and the government of New South Wales responded by reducing the pub trading hours. The government has also stopped short of introduction of lockouts of hotels. There is also an announcement of promoting and running a government funded anti-binge drinking campaign specially targeted at young men in Australia. However, people will be continued to be sold alcohol until they become so drunk to be thrown out of the pubs situated at the Kings Cross area.
A study by Wu and Altheimer (2013) suggested that indicators of the overall volume of activities related to leisure that usually take place in the households show a negative relationship with the rates of crime. On the other hand, indicators of the volume of activities related to leisure that take place away from the households i.e. at public places show positive relationship with rates of crime (Wu & Altheimer 2013). Another study by Tomsen (1997) presents the finding that drinkers interpret such type of violence shown by them in their leisure activities as a means of approval of liberating and attractive sense of group pleasure, release and celebration feeling of carnival (Tomsen 1997).
Recommendations for reducing culture and leisure related crime
As there is a link between leisure, culture and crime, it is essential that societies give due focus on leisure education. There is a direct connection between the ability of individuals to find ways to satisfy their desires and fill the free time, and involvement in committing crime. Theories, such as strain theory, differential association theory, social control theory, boredom theory, etc., all establish the fact that people try to fill in their leisure time with activities that they cannot do in routine. For instance, the strain theory suggests that when people cannot meet their simple goals in a socially acceptable way, they turn to delinquency. Differential association theory suggests that people, especially adolescents who easily associate themselves with others who indulge in criminal activities, come to accept the participation in similar kind of pursuits (Robertson, 2000).
With the help of leisure education, the individual can get involved in activities that can put him in some socially acceptable situation with socially acceptable values. With the involvement with that community or group, the person can positively learn to enjoy the involvement in some acceptable pursuit. Another theory- social control theory focuses on the weak bonds among individuals that make them pursue such activities which the rest of the society does not give consent to. The leisure education can make one learn how to foster relationships on the basis of shared leisure interests and experiences. It will help in developing a sense of attachment and commitment that will help in prevention of crime as enjoyable activities can be shared (Robertson 2000).
There is a connection between leisure, culture and crime. The cultural and societal context contributes to the possibility of occurrence of violence related crime. The recent controversies related to violence and crime at Kings Cross suggests the link between leisure activities and the rate of crime at the public place. Various theories and frameworks suggest the implantation of concept of leisure education for development of positive leisure interests so that people do not resort to criminal activities under the influence of drugs or alcohol they consume in their leisure time.
Bennett, T. & Holloway, K. 2005. Understanding Drugs, Alcohol And Crime. McGraw-Hill International.
Don’t blame the booze, it’s zero tolerance on violence that’s needed. 2014. [Online]. Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/dont-blame-the-booze-its-zero-tolerance-on-violence-thats-needed/story-e6frgd0x-1226796813410# [Accessed on: 28 January 2014].
Fifth charge laid over violent rampage in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve. 2014. [Online]. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-06/fifth-charge-over-violent-rampage-in-kings-cross-on-new-year27/5186836 [Accessed on: 28 January 2014].
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Seddon, T. 2000. Explaining the Drug–Crime Link: Theoretical, Policy and Research Issues. Journal of Social Policy, 29(01), pp. 95-107.
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Tomsen, S. 1997. Social Protest, Masculinity and the Culture of Drinking Violence. Br J Criminol, 37 (1), pp. 90-102.
Wu, Y. & Altheimer, I. 2013. Race/Ethnicity, Foreign-Born Status, and Victimization in Seattle, WA. Race and Justice, 3(4), 339-357.