Functionalism and Crime and Deviance

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Assess the usefulness of Functionalism in explaining the causes and extent of deviance in society (21 marks) Deviance is behaviour that goes against the norms in society i.e. what is considered by the majority to be normal. There are 3 types of deviance; positively sanctioned which is deviant behaviour but is seen as good e.g. giving all your money to the poor. Negatively sanctioned which is deviant behaviour that is punished e.g. spitting. The third is simply accepted deviance e.g. having 20 cats. Interpritivists argue that deviant behaviour is socially constructed due to same behaviour seeming deviant at some times but not others. However, positivists such as Durkheim argue that statistics on deviance are social facts. Functionalists hold a positive approach to society and they put forward their biological analogy which is that every institution in society is like an organ and they all work together to make society work like the body e.g. education, family, crime etc. they believe in shared values and consensus in society and talk about the march of progress which is that everything is getting better. The founding father of sociology, Durkheim who is a functionalist tries to explain the causes and extent of deviance in society as well as Merton who puts forward his strain theory. Durkheim believed that crime is necessary, inevitable and functional for society so much that without it society wouldn’t function without a certain amount of crime. However, he does recognise that too much crime is bad for society and causes it to be dysfunctional and break down. He therefore says the amount of crime is the important factor. He believed in shared norms and values and said that we all generally agree on what is right and what is wrong, but the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour have to be reinforced every now and then and this is the role of crime and
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