Functionalist view on crime

The view of functionalists on crime and deviance and criticisms of the view

Durkheim

Merton

Cohen

Cloward & Ohlin

Matza

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  • Created on: 05-11-11 00:08
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The Functionalist view on Crime and Deviance
Functionalism is a structural theory based on consensus. Believes in order to achieve
solidarity, society had two mechanisms
Socialisation ­ Learning the norms and values of society, firstly through the family
and then through other institutions such as education.
Social Control ­ Formal ways of insuring people conform to the values e.g. CJS.
Durkheim
Crime is Inevitable but provides two vital functions;
Boundary maintenance ­ crime produces a reaction from society uniting its
members in disapproval of criminals. This explains the function of punishment
which is to reaffirm societies shared rules.
Adaptation to change ­ all changes start with acts of deviance, people new
ideas different to the shared norms and values will be seen as deviant.
Criticisms of Durkheim
Treats society as a living thing, something individuals follow like sheep.
Does not explain why certain people are more likely to commit crime than others.
Ignores power inequality.
Fails to say who crime is functional for.
Ignores impact of crime on the victims - too positive.
Merton
Uses strain theory to explain patterns of deviance found in society. An individual's
position in society affects the way to respond to anomie. Merton explains five types
of adaptation.
Conformity ­ follows the goals and means and strives to achieve these goals
legitimately. Found among middle classes.
Innovation ­ the person accepts the goals of society but uses illegal ways, such
as theft and fraud, to achieve them.
Danny Skeels

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Ritualism ­ the individual has lost sight of the goals and gives up trying to
achieve these goals but follow the rules for their own sake. Typical of lower
middle class office workers in dead end jobs.
Retreatism ­ individual rejects goals and means. Includes psychotics, outcasts
and drug addicts.
Rebellion ­ goals and means are rejected and new ones substituted e.g. political
activists or religious fundamentalist.
Criticisms of Merton
All his work is based on structure and value consensus.
Ignores individuality.…read more

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Short & Strodbeck found little evidence to show gangs of youths rejected middle class
values.
Box suggests that Cohen's theory can only be applied to a small percentage of deviant
acts.
Box argues that it might be the case that W.C youths ever accepted mainstream values
and resent being seen failures by teachers.
Bordua suggests that subcultures are not passed on from one generation to another but
each generation creates its own culture.
His theory does not explain M.C and female crime.…read more

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We hold two levels of value;
Conventional values such as role of father
Subterranean values such as values of sexuality
Matza suggests we justify crime as an exception to the rule `Yes what I did was
wrong but...…read more

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Danny Skeels…read more

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