Outline and Assess functionalists view of crime
Functionalism is a consensus structuralism theory, which sees the source of crime and deviance located in the structure of society. Although crime and deviance might be stigmatised in society, some sociologists think it is important to have it occur and there are some benefits to it. This view is seen as the opposite to Marxism, a form of conservative ideology. Marxism sees crime within its general critique of capitalism and functionalists see the positive role crime may have within the social system. Internationalist’s have a similar view to Marxists as they believe in the labelling theory, so there is no such thing as a deviant act, but social institutions create them.
Durkheim (1982) argued that crime is to be expected in social life, because individuals follow different influences and circumstances, and so not everyone can be equally committed to the shared values and moral beliefs of society. Despite crime and deviance’s threat to society, Durkheim sees it as beneficial as it could perform positive functions in society, such as, firstly; By strengthening collective values. Values can waste away unless people are reminded of the boundaries between right and wrong behaviour. Secondly, by enabling social change. Some deviance is necessary to allow new ideas to develop, and enable society to change and progress. Thirdly, by acting as a safety valve. Deviance can release stress in society. For example, violent protesting might be seen as an outlet for expression of discontent avoiding wider and more serious challenges to social order. Finally; by acting as a warning device that society is not working properly. For example, high rates of suicide, drug addiction and divorce show what social problems need to be solved before serious threats to social order develop.
Although Durkheim’s theory is valid, some criticisms are found. He proposed that crime promotes solidarity; however, this is not always the case, as...