Functionalist, Strain and Subcultural theories

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Functionalist, strain and subcultural theories
Based on value consensus
Sharing a common culture
Sharing the same culture produces social solidarity
Inevitability of crime
See too much crime as destabilising society
See crime as inevitable and universal
Two reasons why crime and deviance are found in ALL societies
1. Not everyone is equally effectively socialised into the shared norms and values, so some
individuals are prone to deviate
2. Diversity of lifestyles and values. Diff groups develop their own subcultures. What members of
mainstream society see as deviant, the subcultures regard as normal
Modern societies lean towards anomie. Rules of accepted beh. become more complex.
Diversity means that the shared culture or collective conscience is weakened.
Boundary Maintenance
The function of punishment
Punishment isn't to make the individual suffer or mend their ways
Durks view, the purpose of punishment is to reaffirm societies shared rules + reinforce solidarity
Done through rituals of the courtroom, dramatizing wrongdoing
This discourages others from rule breaking
Adaption and change
Challenging existing norms and values
Too much crime threatens to tear bonds of society apart
Too little means that society is controlling and repressing its members too much
Other Functions of Crime
Davis: argues that prostitution acts as a safety valve for the release of men's sexual frustrations
w/o threatening the monogamous nuclear family
Cohen: sees deviance as a warning that an institution is not functioning properly
Evaluation: Society requires a certain amount of
deviance to function properly, but doesn't
explain "how much" is the right amount
Looks at what crime serves society as a
whole but not ignores what it serves for
groups or individuals
Crime doesn't always promote solidarity.
May have the opposite effect.

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Merton's Strain Theory
o Argues that people engage in deviant beh. when they are unable to achieve socially approved
goals by legitimate means.…read more

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Criticises Merton on two factors:
1. Merton sees deviance as an individual response to strain, ignoring the fact that crime is largely
committed in groups (especially among the young)
2. Merton focuses on utilitarian crime.…read more

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Labelling Theory
Interested in how and why certain acts are defined as deviant or labelled as criminal
It is not the nature of the act that makes it deviant but society's reaction to the act
Labelling theory suggest that we should avoid publicly "naming and shaming" as this can lead to
them being excluded from mainstream society
Interested in the role of what Becker calls the moral entrepreneurs
Expansion of a social control agency (such as the police) enforce the rule and impose labels…read more

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Deviance Amplification:
The process in which to attempt to control deviance leads to more deviance e.g. London Riots
Like an escalating snowball or spiral
Press exaggerations start a moral panic.…read more


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