Emile Durkheim (Crime and Deviance)

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  • Created on: 24-09-13 20:51
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  • Emile Durkheim (Functionalist)
    • Crime and deviance can be found in all societies. Crime functions for the benefit of society.
      • Acts of crime and deviance can provoke social change by reinforcing what is seen as right and wrong by society.
      • Crimes such as terrorist attacks create public outage which encourages social solidarity against the offenders and the acts they committed.
      • Trial and punishment of criminals reminds society of acceptable social boundaries and behaviour.
      • Minor crimes can sometimes prevent more serious crimes.
      • Two reasons why crime and deviance are found in all societies.
        • Not everyone is equally effectively socialised into the same norms and values so some may be prone to deviate.
        • Diversity of lifestyles and values. Different subcultures develop their own norms and values which may be seen as deviant in mainstream culture.
    • Boundary maintenance.
      • Crimes produces a reaction from the members of society which reinforces their commitment to the shared norms and values.
      • Stigmatising the wrongdoer and publicising punishment reaffirms society's shared norms and values and reinforces social solidarity.
    • Adaption and Change.
      • Individuals with new ideas, values and ways of living must have the chance to challenge to change existing norms and values which may first appear as deviant.
      • In the future, such acts may no longer be seen as deviant and will allow members of society to make adaptive changes.
    • Too much crime threatens to tear the bonds of society.
    • Too little crime means that society is repressing and controlling its members too much, preventing freedom and change.


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