Compare and Contrast Two Approaches to Defining and Measuring Crime & Deviance

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Compare and contrast two approaches to defining and measuring crime and deviance. There are a number of sociological theories that explore the concepts of crime and deviance within society. Although these theories are diverse and offer differing perspectives and explanations of crime and deviance, they all agree that a social approach is required (Taylor et al. 2008). This assignment will explore the social constructivist approach to defining and measuring of crime and deviance from a functionalist and interactionist perspective with a brief overview of the Marxist perception. It will also consider the statistical approach to measuring crime. In terms of Crime and deviance they are extremely diverse. Crime is defined as any act which breaks the law and is therefore punishable. Most, if not all, acts of crime are categorized as deviant behaviour, for example, murder. Deviance is behaviour which drifts away from society’s established norms and values, but is not necessarily perceived as crime, such as queue jumping (Haralambos and Holborn 2009). The functionalist approach to crime and deviance is one of value consensus. They emphasise social stability and collective public values, a ‘collective conscience’. Functionalist define crime and deviance as functional and necessary to society as a whole, with just the right amount of crime to avoid anomie; normlessness. Durkheim (cited in Haralambos and Holborn: 179) suggests that “societies need both crime and punishment to highlight society’s norms and define moral boundaries” (Haralambos and Holborn 2009). Functionalism strive for what is best for society so as not to strain the current system in place. If too much or too little change was to occur, society would be in a state of anomie, were common values are no longer understood and accepted. Merton (1968) in the study of his ‘American Dream’ theory
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