Marx believed that societies grew and changed due to struggles of different social classes. Durkheim believed in studying the “social facts,” which would help determine if a society was healthy or pathological. Weber’s focus on the structure of society included the elements of class, status and power. Each sociologist had a great influence in the field of sociology, but took different approaches to studying societies. Sociology enables us to understand how society functions and under which circumstances.
Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the functionalist approach to society. Functionalism is a macro, structuralist theory. This means they see human behaviour being shaped as an influence of social forces. It is also seen consensus theory, as functionalists’ argue that, individuals are socialised into a shared value to ensure conformity and social order. However, this functionalists approach is criticised by action theorists, as they argue that individuals create society through their interactions.
Poverty may mean that crime is the only way that the working class can survive, as crime may e the only way that they can obtain the consumer goods encouraged by the capitalist advertising, resulting in utilitarian crimes such as theft. However, it isn’t always utilitarian crime that the working class commit as sometimes the alienation and lack of control over their lives may lead to frustration and aggression which results in non-utilitarian crimes such as vandalism and violence. Marxist’s sometimes argue the state and law-making are a cause of crime because they believe that all laws serve the ruling class, most law is based on protecting private property. The crimes of the working class and ethnic minorities are punished harshly while crimes of the powerful go unnoticed. The ruling class also have the power to prevent the introduction of laws that would threaten their interests.
Assess the usefulness of Marxist approaches to an understanding of crime and deviance in contemporary society Marxist criminologists argue that the state passes laws which support ruling-class interests, and maintain its control and power over the subject class. They put forward the view that laws do not reflect value consensus, but instead reflect the values of ruling class ideology. Therefore, laws work towards false class consciousness, as laws only benefit the ruling minority. Many Marxists also argue that there are a vast number of laws protecting property, and Snider (1993) argued the state is often reluctant to pass laws which might threaten profitability. She also argued capitalist states often pour large amounts of money into attracting business; for example offering new investors tax concessions and grants.
Many sociologists have given alternate views about the main function of education. Functionalists argue that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus – agreed social values – whereas Marxists argue that education transmits values that benefit the ruling class. Durkheim (1903), a functionalist, argues that society needs a sense of social solidarity because without it, social life and cooperation would be impossible as individuals would pursue their own selfish desires. The education system helps create social solidarity by transmitting society’s culture from one generation to the next so the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society. However, Marxists criticise this and argue that education in capitalist society only transmits the ideology of the ruling class and not the shared values of society.
He argued that capital society and social order are all link to a capital system to human beings. Durkheim on the other hand, argued that sociology should be look at social facts as objects. Roles and institutions act like bodily organs, each depending on other. The world should be divided into subjective and objective, regarding society as a reality in itself. Durkheim sees anomie as responsible for the world’s disorder of economics- the lack of morality and regulation resulted in overpowering the weak; thus, he feels that only norms can prevent the abuse of power and calls for regulation and equal opportunity from birth- the greater the equal opportunity the less need for restraint.
Sociological Theories examine institutional arrangements within society and the interaction between and among social institutions, individuals and groups as they affect socialization and have an impact on social behavior. (Schmalleger, 261) 7. Social Ecology is an approach to criminological theorizing that attempts to link the structure and organization of a human community to interactions with its localized environment. (Schmalleger, 264) 8. Anomie (according to Merton), is a disjunction between socially approved means to success and legitimate goals.
Likewise, society would cease to exist if it didn’t have vital institutes such as the family and education even crime and deviance to a certain extent. However, Sharrock et al, criticise Durkheim’s concept of functionalism as it overemphasises the value consensus. Other sociologists argue that not everyone will buy into society’s norms and values not because they are ‘deviant’ but because it favours the capitalist ideology. From the organic analogy, Parson’s 1951 developed Durkheim’s theory and postulated functional prerequisites. According to Parsons’ there are four main prerequisites such as: adaption (economic), goal attainment (political), integration (cohesion) latency; pattern maintenance.
The working class gain a desire for material things, but breaking the law may be the only way that they can acquire the consumer good that they desire. breaking the law is a small price to pay for the reward that the success brings them in turn. This of course would bring a rise in the amount of working class people committing crimes. Another reason this may lead to a rise in crime may be that the ruling class alienate the working class as they only and this leads to frustration and eventually aggression which can cause them to hit out at the ruling class with violence or vandalism. On the other hand crime is not just pigeon hold to the working class as the ruling class may get a
(McClelland) In functionalism, change is said to happen when pressure is put on individuals by social structures. This is what is known as a macro theory. Macro theories work from the society downward, the society forces the people to change, not the people change society. As a real world example of how functionalism is applied I will use elder abuse. When there is a problem such as elder abuse, a functionalist would say there is a dysfunction.