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EMILE DURKHEIM
Functionalism is a consensus theory that sees members of society sharing a common culture of shared
norms, values, beliefs and goals. This produces what Durkheim calls social solidarity.
The key to explaining how social solidarity is explained by 2 mechanisms ­
1. Socialisation ­ this is the process in childhood and life where shared culture is instilled in individuals
and internalised, which ensures they act in accordance to social rules.
2. Social control ­ these are the rewards for conformity and sanctions for non-conformity that help
ensure people behave in social approved ways.
Crime implies there must be a breakdown of either or both of these. Crime is seen as a threat to social
order and negative for society.
However, every society has crime ­ it is inevitable and universal. Durkheim was realistic enough to state
that crime in normal, an integral part of all healthy societies.…read more

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REASONS FOR CRIME AND DEVIANCE
1. Not everyone is socialised equally well into the shared norms and values of society. Therefore, some
individuals will be more likely to deviate.
2. In complex societies, it is difficult to establish a common set of shared values. Different groups
develop their own subcultures with their own norms and values. Subcultures' definition of normal
may differ from what mainstream society see's as normal.
3. In modern societies, there is a tendency towards anomie (normlessness) where the rules of society are
becoming less clear-cut. This is because societies are complex now, with a specialised division of
labour. With a less common lifestyle, there is a weakening of shared culture or collective conscience.
The result of this is more crime and deviance. Durkheim saw a major cause of suicide to be due to this
increase in anomie.…read more

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POSITIVE FUNCTIONS OF CRIME AND DEVIANCE
Boundary maintenance ­ crime produces a reaction from society, uniting it's members against the wrong
doer and reinforcing their commitment to the value consensus. The function of punishment is to reaffirm
shared rules and reinforce social solidarity. Publicised legal proceedings help to remind everyone of the
boundaries between right and wrong.
Adaptation and change ­ All change starts as deviance, as new ideas must challenge existing norms and
values. If this is suppressed then society will stagnate. Protests can be supportive of deviant behaviour
which actually leads to a change in society's norms. Davis suggested that deviance is good because it acts
as a safety valve. Some deviant acts may allow people to realise their urges without harming society. For
example, prostitution acts to release men's sexual frustration without harming the nuclear family.…read more

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EVALUATION OF DURKHEIM'S APPROACH
Durkheim fails to explain how much deviance is required for society to function.
He also fails to distinguish between types of crime ­ some acts will be more harmful to society than others.
Durkheim claims that crime has positive functions but this doesn't explain why there is crime in the first
place ­ people don't usually commit deviant and criminal acts to make society better.
This theory also fails to consider who crime is functional for ­ it may help society to function but this does
not consider the perspective of the victims of crime ­ they would not consider acts against them as
functional.…read more

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ROBERT MERTON ­ STRAIN THEORY
Strain theory was developed by Merton who adapted Durkheim's concept of anomie to explain deviance.
Merton's explanation combines two elements ­
1. Structural factors ­ society's unequal opportunity structure e.g. different quality of educational
institutions.
2. Cultural factors ­ in some cultures, there is a strong emphasis on success, usually materialistic, but a
weaker emphasis on the legitimate means to achieve them.
Merton stated that there was a strain between these two. Put simply, in many societies there is a culture
whose goals encourage individuals to achieve, yet the institutional structure may not allow everyone to
legitimately achieve these goals. The resulting strain can lead to deviant adaptations ­
3. Conformity ­ accepting goals and strive to achieve them legitimately. Middle class individuals.
4. Innovation ­ accept the goals but use illegitimate means to achieve them. Lower class individuals.
5. Ritualism ­ give up on goals but have internalised the legitimate means and follow rules for their own
sake. Lower middle class office workers in dead end jobs.
6. Retreatism ­ reject both goals and means and become dropouts. Psychotics, outcasts, tramps,
vagrants, drunkards and drug addicts.
7. Rebellion ­ reject goals but replace them to bring about revolutionary change ­ rebels, political
radicals and counter-cultures such as hippies.…read more

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