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Alcohol and Crime: Treatment and Rehabilitation - Norm Violation

crimes violations law implemented

Crimes are socially constructed in law. Law is implemented through the cataloging of certain behaviors as requiring formalized social reactions ranging from warnings, through arrests, trials, punishment, and ultimately to banishment or execution. The content of a criminal code may in large part describe the moral structure of the society wherein it is developed and implemented.

Crimes are, however, a subcategory within a broader set of phenomena called norm violations, or acts of deviance. All crimes are norm violations, but not all norm violations are crimes. Viewed historically, norm violations may move in and out of the category of crime, and an understanding of such shifts can be important in the analysis of social structure (Gusfield; Beauchamp). As described below, alcohol problems have been viewed as crimes in various ways at different points in American history, but in recent decades they have been almost wholly shifted to a noncriminal categorization.

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