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.
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.
Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches in explaining crime The functionalist approach to analysing deviance and the causes of crime looks at society as a whole. It explains crime that the source of criminal behaviour lies in the nature of society itself rather than in psychology or biology. Functionalists such as Durkheim see deviance as an inevitable and necessary part of society and too little is unhealthy. Some also consider crime to have positive aspects for society. In this essay we will assess the usefulness of these functionalist theories, and look at how it helps us explain crime.
Assess the usefulness of functionalism in explaining crime in society today Functionalism was the first major sociologist approach to crime and deviance however this could mean that maybe functionalists view on crime and deviance is outdated in today’s society. Functionalists take a structural view of crime they also believe that a certain level of crime and deviance is dysfunctional and a threat to social order but integral to a healthy society. However functionalists do not tell us what the perfect amount of crime is therefore it may not be seen as useful in society today. Durkheims theory that crime has four characteristics does relate to society today, these four c characteristics are. Inevitable which is in modern society we have complex specialised divisions of labour which leads to individuals becoming less integrated and more individualistic.
The ruling class also have the power to prevent the introduction of laws that would threaten their interests. Thus, for example, there are few laws that seriously challenge the unequal distribution of wealth. Laureen Snider argues that the capitalist state is reluctant to pass laws that regulate the activities of businesses or threaten their profitability which is why the crime statistics show the working class to be the largest perpetrators of crime. Selective enforcement is another Marxist view on crime and social
Being a criminal or deviant could be seen to be a social construct and therefore this may mean that you could question what criminal activity is and whether this social construct is even right since it has been constructed by members of the society. The laws of the society have also constructed the norms and values of society and therefore if someone were to go against that they would be seen to be criminal however, this may differ in other parts of the world because what may be criminal and deviant in our society may be seen to be the norm in another. The labelling theory helps us to understand why people commit crimes and why people end up being deviant within the community. One reason may be that this stereotypical view or pre-judgement enables people to self-fulfil their prophecy and therefore creates criminal for example. Someone who comes from poor background and where’s hoodies does not automatically mean that they could be deviant.
Although theories like functionalism and Marxism focus on the causes of crime, realists also look at the ways we can prevent crime from happening. Realists trust official statistics and both left and right realists have come up with a variety of solutions to fight crime. Right realists think that situational crime prevention or SCP. They reason that intervening in the immediate situation where crime is taking place is the one of the best things to be done. Using materials like anti-climb paint or neighbourhood watch schemes they make the target harder to achieve, or more risky.
Dr. King recognizes that this is a potential flaw in collective action, but the justice pursued by his movement prevents his collective from such ill effects. Dr. King’s affinity for collective action is largely due to the nature of his problem. Just as Gandhi in India did, when faced with ridiculous oppression, King moves people to nonviolently protest such oppression. When the oppressors violently crack down, the lunacy of the oppression is made apparent and realized by the masses. Dr. King uses group action to reveal to the larger group to poor state of
The first is instrumental, the state responds to crime to secure benifits of the wider society such as crime prevention & crime reduction. The second purpose of the Australia criminal justice system is non utilitarian, which means the state must redress imbalances caused by those people who take illegal advantage of another or diminish another’s human dignity. An example of informal control is the socialisation process. Socialisation is the general process by which individuals within a society learn & assimilate social norms & socially acceptable behaviour. This learned behaviour is a social inheritances, drawing on the information passed down from generation to generation, which is the basis of any societies
Crime as defined by Winterdyk, “is a socially constructed concept used to categorize certain behaviours as requiring formal control and warranting some form of social intervention” (Winterdyk, 2006, p. 491). Individuals that commit these criminal acts are believed to have made a specific choice in the matter. The benefits and consequences have been weighed therefore the criminal has made the choice, but what other circumstances can have a role in this decision? It is understood that social structures, social processes and human biology can all have an affect on the outcome of our individual acts. However the biological flaws of persons are not as significant as one may think.