Outline and Assess Functionalist Explanations for Crime and Deviance [50 Marks]

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Outline and Assess Functionalist Explanations of Crime and Deviance
[50 Marks]
Pease (1994) said, `Crime comprises those actions which are deemed so
damaging to the interest of the community that the state determines that it
must take a direct role in identifying and acting against the criminal.' Downes
and Rock (1998) said `Deviance may be considered as banned or controlled
behaviour which is likely to attract punishment or disproval.' In short,
`Deviance' is a asocial construct that can change across time and place and
`Crime' is an action that breaks the law.
Functionalism is a structural theory based on value consensus.
Functionalists believe that in order to achieve solidarity, society has two key
mechanisms, `Socialisation' and `Social Control.' `Socialisation' is the process by
which we learn the norms and values of society, firstly through the family and
then through other institutions such as education. `Social Control' means the
formal ways of insuring people conform to the mainstream norms and values
of society.
One key opinion of the functionalist perspective is that crime is a good
thing. Factionalists view crime as beneficial for society because we can learn
from it, they would argue that if, for example, a woman was walking alone in a
short dress down a dark alleyway way in town and was sexually assaulted, then
the rest of society could learn from this and avoid being alone, wearing
revealing clothing and walking down dark alleyways. However, the victim does
obviously not see this as positive! Because of the view that crime is needed,
Emile Durkheim stated that crime was inevitable as it provided two main
functions; `Boundary Maintenance' and `Adaption to Change.' `Boundary
Maintenance' is view that crime produces a reaction from society uniting its
members in disapproval of criminals. This explains the function of punishment,

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which is to reaffirm society's shared rules. `Adaption to Change' is the view
that all changes start with acts of deviance; people new ideas different to the
shared norms and values will be seen as deviant. This is where Durkheim's idea
`Society of Saints' comes from.…read more

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agreed with Durkheim that crime is caused because of people's different
attachment to collective values. Merton went on to develop his `Strain Theory'
that he uses to explain patterns of deviance found in society. He states that an
individual's position in society affects the way they respond to anomie. Merton
explains five types of adaptation: `Conformity,' `Innovation,' `Ritualism,'
`Retreatism' and `Rebellion.' `Conformity' is explained as following the goals,
means and strives to achieve these goals legitimately.…read more

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insecurity of working class jobs. H e clearly states that boredom is the main
cause of working class youths turning to crime and deviant acts.
As with every approach, the question asked is, `why does crime occur?'
But Hirschi (1969) said we should look at this question from a different
perspective asking why certain people don't commit crime. He argues that
crime occurs when there is a lack of control or authority in society.…read more

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However, Young (1971) argues that people get caught in minor forms of
crime all the time and when individuals are caught, they are labelled and their
crimes are made into something they're not. He argues that this pushes
individuals to amplify their crimes until they become criminals and developed
their own deviant subcultures where crime was encouraged.…read more


Aiste - Team GR

wonderful essay!! extremely useful :)

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