Outline and Assess Functionalist Explanations for Crime and Deviance

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Outline and evaluate functionalist explanations of crime and deviance

Crime and deviance can be defined as behaviour which breaks the law or goes against society's norms and values. Downes and Rock defined deviance as behavior which may be considered as banned or controlled behavior which is likely to attract disapproval or punishment. Crime is harder to define, however Pease (2002) defined crime and deviance as an action that is deemed so disturbing by citizens or disruptive to society that state intervention is justified.

The macro perspective of Functionalism sees society working like the human body, this is described through the organic analogy. The agents of socialization work together to form equilibrium within society. The consensus theory places emphasis on the importance of the nuclear family as within this 'stable' environment can an individual be effectively socialized. However the theory has been criticized for being too deterministic and ignorant of individual circumstance.

The Functionalist sociologist Durkheim presents the argument that crime and deviance is normal, natural and functional for society. Crime provides jobs, acts as a deterrent for conforming citizens and puts behavior into perspective. He believes that without crime somewhat trivial offense could be blown out of proportion. Durkheim also states that too much or too little crime is dysfunctional for society. Too much and society breaks down into a state of anomie, whereby society is in a state of normlessness and an absence of norms and values occurs; too little crime and society stagnates and cannot evolve. Functionalists also believes that crime can create unity for those within society, a crime is committed and people unite and feel protected because they share the same view on it's awfulness; however one could criticsise this and say although it may create 'unity' the victim of the crime would not think it was functional for society. Especially if they were a victim of...

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  • on May 23, 2013
  • Category: Social Issues
  • Length: 1,033 words
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