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.
All crime is deviant but not all deviance is crime. Becker stated; “Social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them as outsiders. From this point of view deviance is not a quality of the act a person commits, but rather a consequence of
Assess the view that crime and deviance are the products of labelling processes. Crime is an illegal act that is punishable by law such as stealing and deviance is an act which goes against society’s norms and values such as talking loudly in a library. Interactionists like Becker argue that Crime and Deviance is socially constructed and is therefore a product id labelling. However not al sociologists hold the same view. Becker argued that it is not a certain behaviour or act that is deviant but it is how we react to it that makes it deviant.
The differential association theory argued that crime was the result of environmental influences on people and not from biological and psychological abnormalities. Sutherland’s general theory was that criminal behaviour is learnt in the social environment. He said that the main difference between law abiding behaviour and criminal behaviour is in what is learnt rather than how it is learnt. (Joubert, Joubert & Ovens, 2012:105). DEFINITION Differential association is a concept that was developed by E. H. Sutherland.
Crime is defined as an infraction of criminal law. Jary and Jary (2000). In Sociology: A New Approach, Haralambos et al. (1986) crime is further defined as an act which breaks the law and is subject to punishment. Crime and deviance are culturally defined and therefore relative, as a culture evolves so do definitions of both deviance and crime.
(Bader et al) The main difference between crime and deviance is deviant behaviour is when a social norm has been broken whereas a crime is where a formal and social norm is broken. Meaning crime can also be deviant behaviour but deviance cannot be construed as crime. (Jones pg 32) RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CRIME AND DEVIANCE Crime and deviance is believed to overlap in behaviours that are
Assess the usefulness of subcultural theories in understanding crime and deviance Point | Explain | Research/Evidence | Challenge/Link | Intro: Subcultural strain theories see deviance as the product of a delinquent subculture w/different values from those of mainstream society | Delinquency subcultures are seen as a way for groups (l/w) to gain status they cannot achieve legitimately | They seek to build on and criticise Merton’s theory | However, they have been criticised for over focusing on lower class members and assuming everyone has the same goals | Albert Cohen criticises Merton who sees deviance as an individual response to strain – ignoring the fact much deviance is committed in or by groups – especially among the young | Hence why Cohen focuses on deviance among working-class boys. He argues they face anomie in M/C dominated school system | Status frustration: Suffer - Cultural deprivation + lack of skills to achieve in M/C world = bottom of status hierarchy Lack of status = ‘frustration’ Resolution = rejecting M/C values & joining/forming a subculture of others in same position = alternative status hierarchy – gain status through deviant behaviour (joy riding, vandalising, fighting and substance abuse) | Strength: Cohen offers an explanation of non-utilitarian deviance amongst W/C – unlike Merton (innovation – crime w/profit motive)Cohen ‘s ideas of status frustration and alternative status hierarchy help to explain non-economic delinquency such as vandalism, fighting and truancy Weakness: like Merton, Cohen assumes that W/C boys start off sharing M/C success goals – only to reject these when they fail. He ignores the possibility – they didn’t share these goals in the first place & so never saw themselves as failures | Like Cohen, Cloward & Ohlin take Merton’s ideas as their start point. They agree that W/C youths are
The Causes of Crime - Right realists reject the idea put forward by Marxists and others that structural or economic factors such as poverty and inequality are the cause for crime. For example, they point out that the old tend to be poor, yet they have a very low crime rate. - Right realists argue that crime is the product of three factors; individual biological differences, inadequate socialisation and the underclass, and rational choice to offend. Individual Biological Differences - James Wilson and Richard Herrnstein (1985) put forward a biosocial theory of criminal behaviour. In their view, crime is caused by a combination of biological and social factors.
Differential association “Sutherland introduced the concept of differential association, which he developed into a theory to explain the process by which an individual engages in criminal behaviour” (http://www.oup.com/ us/pdf/reid/Reid_ Chapter6.pdf) which is the first of Akers key elements is differential association. This refers to ones exposure to, and interactions with, others. The impact of this exposure may vary according to the rate of recurrence, how long the exposure and the intensity of this exposure, to others. Definitions The second of Akers key elements is definitions. This element refers to attitudes or level of approval individuals hold regarding morals and laws in general as well as specific deviant behaviours.
People being labelled (negatively) will always be affected according to their label, and society plays an important role in the labelling process. In the next few paragraphs the contribution of Becker as an exponent of the labelling perspective will be discussed along with the process of labelling and the typology of deviants. Labelling as a cause of crime According to the Study Guide (The explanation of crime), Becker shortly discussed the way different sets of rules affect the theory of labelling as a cause of crime while developing his theory. This labelling theory, also known as the societal reaction theory does not only define deviants, it can also make them. When someone is labelled an offender they are forced by society to live according to this label which could minimise their chances of being law abiding citizens and limit their chances of finding decent jobs.