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. Durkheim (cited in Haralambos and Holborn: 179) suggests that “societies need both crime and punishment to highlight society’s norms and define moral boundaries” (Haralambos and Holborn 2009). Functionalism strive for what is best for society so as not to strain the current system in place. If too much or too little change was to occur, society would be in a state of anomie, were common values are no longer understood and accepted. Merton (1968) in the study of his ‘American Dream’ theory
Hence, when we study crime, it is vital to keep in mind that there are differing viewpoints within the field of criminology as to the fundamental nature of the subject matter itself. 2. How can theories help us to understand criminal behavior or to design strategies intended to control such behavior? Theory helps us to understand the world because it provides us with a fundamental pattern, which explains a variety of
In the sociological perspectives of crime and deviance, there is one particular approach which argues that crime is functional, inevitable and normal. This sociological perspective, Functionalism, consists of Emile Durkheim’s work on crime and deviance. His main argument was that ‘crime is normal’ and that it is ‘an integral part of all healthy societies.’ This perspective views crime and deviance as an inevitable feature of all societies which is universal. However, Durkheim did argue that too much crime can lead to the destabilisation of society. Durkheim identified three positive aspects of crime which make it functional for society.
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
All these determinates are examples of how social and economic factors influence the general crime rates. Once a person weighs the benefits and the possible consequences of a potential criminal act, they are capable to make their choice. Deterrence is what helps make the consequences outweigh the benefits of a probable crime. General deterrence offers swift and certainty of punishment, specific deterrence makes sure that criminals that are punished severely enough they do not repeat. These two deterrence methods offer somewhat of a solution to the negative approach of the choice theory; if the individual is able to be deterred they will be able to make a more rational
In this essay we will assess the usefulness of these functionalist theories, and look at how it helps us explain crime. One functionalist who tried to explain crime is Merton and his strain theory, the strain theory argues that people engage in the deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means. Merton explanation combines 2 elements; structural factors- society’s unequal opportunity structure, cultural factors- strong emphasis to achieve goals and weak emphasis on using legit means. Merton uses the strain theory to explain some patterns of crime in society, he argues a person’s positioning in society affects the way they adapt or respond to the strain to anomie. Merton gives 5 different types of adaption; Conformity- the individual accepts socially acceptable goal and achieves it through legitimate means, Innovation- Individual accepts the role of success and wealth but uses illegitimate means to achieve them, Ritualism- Individual give up on legitimate goals but still follow strictly to the rules, Retreatism- Individuals reject legitimate goals and means of achieving them e.g drug addicts, the final type is Rebellion- Individuals reject existing goals and means but replace them with new one in desire to bring about revolutionary change.
the American Dream. This theory is very useful in highlighting certain points that are not explained within other theories. Albert Cohen, describes the idea of status frustration. By which he argues that deviance and crime result from the inability of those in lower classes to achieve mainstream goals. It is useful for highlighting why, in the working class, those who cannot achieve in education, they then therefore suffer from status frustration and in this process turn to other people who also cannot achieve in this institution.
History of the Strain Theory Strain Theory was first introduced by Robert Merton and Emile Durkheim. Merton and Durkheim believed that the cultural imbalance that exists between goals and the norms of individuals in society increases likelihood of deviance and that deviance only occurred in the lower class. Durkheim focused on the decrease of societal restraint and the strain that resulted at the individual level, and Merton studied the cultural imbalance that exists between goal and the norms of the
Left realism is particularly useful in understanding crime and deviance because it avoids the age old divisions between structure and action. Instead, left realism sets out an agenda which contains all levels of analysis, both macro and micro. Young, Lea and Matthews for example, suggest that in order to truly understand and deal with crime, the interplay between macro and micro factors need to be considered alongside each other in what they call “the square of crime”. In essence, this means that when investigating the problem of crime, sociologists should consider the roles of the state (as they have the power to define what is criminal), the offender (i.e. what motivates them), the public (because they are an agent of informal social control, and fear of public stigmatisation is viewed as one of the most powerful determinants of behaviour) and most importantly, the victim, because it is ultimately the victim which decides whether a crime has occurred.
First I would like to start by giving a brief definition of what or better said – how, criminology differs from victimology. Criminology is more concerned with the origin of crime along the extent and nature of crime. Criminology places an emphasis on studying the offender, the crimes, and the motives behind the crime. It is also the study of how the public and criminal justice system responds to the offender. Victimology plays a very important role in criminology and is used to determine what the victim’s behavior has to do with their risk of being victimized.