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Outline and assess the Structuralist view of crime.
Structuralist views of crime and deviance suggest that crime is socially constructed. As it is focused on
the nature of society as opposed to the individual, the functionalist and sub-cultural theories can be
referred to when explaining crime and deviance. Structuralist theory is a macro theory; they view
crime and deviance in a negative light, as it disrupts the harmony of working together in society. The
key concern for Structuralist is to understand social behaviour by looking at the structures. They
believe crime and deviance can only be explained by looking at the way society is organised, they
also emphasis that crime is caused by society rather than the circumstance of the individual.
In this essay I will refer to Structuralist view of crime and deviance. They Stress that society needs
order, seeking to explain the social world with the reference to main structures, systems and
intuitions. The consensus theory (agreement) also suggests that the structures in the system and
institutions all are healthy to help function and maintain cohesion in society, binding individuals
together for common good.
According to Durkheim, crime is inevitable feature of social life. As individuals are composed to
different influences and circumstances, therefore not everyone can be equally committed to the
shared values and moral beliefs of society. Durkheim also believed that crimes were higher in
industrial cities comparison to rural areas because of complexity of the modern world rapidly
re-inventing itself, old traditions are lost and replaced by more modern ways of behaving and acting.
This implies that geographical location, of where you live have an affect whether you're likely to be a
victim or participate in crime. The complexity of the modern world of technology/ new economy
undermines the authority of family and religion. Leaving people feeling unsure about their place in
the world e.g `when was the last time you saw an elderly person texting?' Consensus, community
and social control is weaker, so people end up the feeling of `anomie' a sense of moral confusion
whereby they feel separated /marginalised from the values of society and the people around them.
It is seen to produce crime as those who are unconnected to society's values will be more likely to be
unconstrained by them. A critsism to Durkheim's theory from Marxist would be that Durkheim
underestimates the level of conflict and inequality in modern society.
On the other hand Durkheim saw crime as beneficial as it could perform positive functions in society.
He speculated that crime functions for the benefit of society in various ways; He identified four
specific functions that deviance fulfils;
Affirmation of cultural norms and values; seeing a person punished for a deviant act reinforces what
is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour in society. Sentencing a thief to prison affirms our
culturally held value that stealing is wrong. Just as one would believe that the concept of God could
not exist without the concept of the devil. Deviance helps to define our own norms.
Clarification of right and wrong; responses to deviant behaviour help individuals distinguish between
right and wrong. When a student cheats on a test and receives a failing grade for the course, the rest
of the class learns that cheating is wrong and will not be tolerated.
Unification of others in society; Response to deviance can bring people together, In the aftermath of
the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack people across the United States, even the world, were
united in their shock
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Promoting social change; Deviance can also encourage the dominant society to consider alternative
norms and values. Rosa Park act of deviance in Montgomery, Alabama in 1995 led to the U.S
Supreme Court's declaration that segregation on the public transportation was unconstitutional.
Merton agreed with Durkheim that crime is the result of people's different attachment to collective
values. He applied the concept of `anomie' which was developed by Durkheim to the U.…read more
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Like Duekheim, Merton argues that deviance and crime are `normal' aspects of society, however he
does argues that crime is not required to generate harmony or to achieve social progress. According
to Merton individuals may respond to the cultural goals and institionalised means of achieving them in
various ways, he found that people adapt their goals in response to the means that society provides
to achieve them, by identifying five types of reaction.…read more
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Attachment, People are under control is they care what others think of them. If they do not care they
are free to be deviant. Thus the importance to have a social bound: people need the identify their
family and peers, to develop a strong bond with them.
Commitment, if people invest time their education or business they are likely to suffer loss if they are
deviant, hence the reason why they are less likely to do so.…read more