Sociological Perspectives on Crime

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Let’s say you’re walking with friends through your neighborhood late at night, on your way to pick up a few things from the store. You pass a handful of people smoking outside a rowdy bar. They do not like you. They do not like the way you look. They do not like your body or what you do with it. They say things, things you have heard before, things that question whether you should be on this street or even on this earth. You could ignore them and keep walking. You could, like you have done on so many nights, just let them say these things. You could silently agree that this street belongs to these people and you do not belong here and move on. You could stick up for yourself and for your friends and for people like you. And then the people saying these things could get angrier. You could get angrier too. Someone could get hurt, someone could get killed. Functionalist thinks of society as a living organism in which each part of the organism contributes to its survival. This is a perspective which emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability. (Schaefer, 2011) Functionalists believe that crime and deviance are inevitable and necessary for a society. Crime shows other members of the society what is right and wrong. Social consensus decides how right and wrong is determined. Crime can lead to social change, say functionalists, because the existence of crime proves to the people in the society that the government does not overly control the citizens. Crime can also help the economy of a society by creating jobs for law enforcement officers, psychiatrists, probation officers and the like. However, even in a functionalist society, too much crime can be bad for the group, causing it to lose the standard harmony and eventually causing the society to collapse. Where functionalists see stability and consensus, conflict theorist
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