Crime and Deviance Revision Booklet

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Durkheim Functions of Crime
Durkheim argues that crime is inevitable, and even beneficial for society
The right amount of crime will help prevent anomie/normlessness
There are two main reasons for this:
Not everyone is socialised into the same norms and values, so some will be prone to be
There is a diversity of lifestyles, so different subcultures have their own norms and
Durkheim's positive functions of crime:
Boundary Maintenance
Crime creates a reaction from society, uniting them against the baddy! The punishment
given to the criminal/deviant reinforces shared rules of society, showing the boundaries.
This links to Cohen's "folk Devils", whereby the media dramatizes crime and deviance.
Adaption and Change
Durkheim says that all change that has happened has started with an act of defiance. People
who have new ideas, values and ways of living must ignore some social norms and control.
For example, persecution of religious visionaries
These new values may, however, lead to a good thing. E.g gay rights activists have brought
on more acceptance, and more recently, the majority of MPs are backing gay marriage.
Durkheim therefore argues that neither a high or low level of crime is wanted, just
somewhere in the middle. Too much crime threatens bonds of society, and too little is
repressive and prevents change
Other Functions of Crime:
Davis supports the idea that crime can be positive. He argues that prostitution lets men
release sexual frustration without threatening the nuclear family!

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Linking to this is Polsky, who said that porn helps channel sexual desires, instead of
something like adultery which harms the nuclear family
Cohen ­ crime and deviance acts as a warning that an institution is functioning badly, such
as people skipping school
Erikson ­ says bodies such as the policy actually want to maintain crime due to its positive
Other Functionalist Ideas/Relating to Functionalism
Bonds of attachment ­ every individual has the potential to commit a deviant act
Merton's Strain…read more

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Explaining the functions of crime doesn't explain what caused them in the first place.
Murder maybe functional for society, but what about the victim?
Merton ­ Takes official crime statistics at face value, as official statistic over represent
working class crime, so Merton sees crime as a working class phenomena.
Marxists say Merton ignores how the ruling class enforce laws that benefit the rich and not
the poor
He assumes that everyone strives for money and success, but not everyone does E.…read more

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They agree that working class youth are denied legitimate opportunities. However
they say that different subcultures react differently, e.g. economic crime, drug use
etc., not JUST violence and vandalism like Cohen suggests.
They say these different responses occur because of lack of access to legitimate and
illegitimate opportunity structures. 3 types of subcultures:
Criminal subculture ­ act as a sort of apprenticeship for youths to start a career in
utilitarian crime.…read more

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Evaluation of Subcultural Theory
GOOD BECAUSE...offers an explanation to non-utilitarian crime
BAD BECAUSE...assumes that working class boys start off by having middle class
Walter Miller: Ignores the fact that middle and upper classes can also thrill seek, for
example, Anthony Warrell Thompson stole cheese even though he is a rich TV cook!
(Edgework/thrill seeking)
Is an interactionism theory - Doesn't focus on the structures of society but how people
and society interact and how this affects criminal behaviour.…read more

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as deviant. This may be why today the working class are over represented in crime stats. =
justice negotiable as middle class less likely to be charged for the same offence
Effects of Labelling
Labelling process:
1 A label is attached by police and courts.
2 Label becomes a master status ­overrides other status as sibling, friend etc.
3 The labelled person accepts the label ­ because how we see ourselves relies on how others see
us.…read more

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The criminal justice system can re-label an act, such as becoming less tolerance of
minor deviance by making things like truancy seem a more major offence.
Braithwaite sees a positive role of labelling as it disintegrative labelling labels the
criminal and the crime as bad, but reintegrated labelling labels the criminal act, but
not the actor (criminal)
Evaluation of Labelling Theory
Emphasises negative effects of labelling.…read more

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-Make symbolisations ­ e.g mods wear leather jackets. Be afraid. Links now to
"hoodies" and Chavs.
Links to deviance amplification in labelling, as the media make the situation out of hand,
leading to labelling that cannot be removed ­ spiral.
He argues that moral panics usually occur at a time of social change and uncertainty. E.g.…read more

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Capitalism is criminogenic as by its nature it leads to crime. It is based on exploiting the
working class: Poverty can make crime the only way for working class to survive, only
way to get consumer goods and lack of control and alienation leads to frustration.
However crime is not only for working class, as capitalism is "dog eat dog", so there is also
ruthless and even criminal competition between capitalists.…read more

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Too deterministic and over predicts working class crime. Not all poor people turn to crime
and not all working class are poor! E.g plumbers
Not all capitalist societies have high crime rates, e.g Switzerland and Japan have very little
Corporate crime does get prosecuted.
Neo Marxists combine traditional Marxism with ideas such as the labelling theory
Taylor, Walton and Young ­ New Criminology ­ They agree with traditional Marxists on
these things....…read more


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