- Created by: emily fergusson
- Created on: 22-03-22 13:39
Functionalism is a positivist perspective that emphasizes the structures of society rather than the individuals within it and the consensus (harmony) that exists within society. This is because they say that society makes people who they are therefore it is more important. Functionalists see society as a social system made up of interrelated and inter-dependent institutions such as the family, education system and religion where their function is to maintain social order. Lastly, this perspective focuses on understanding how the different parts of society work together to keep it running smoothly.
Crime & Deviance
Functionalists start to explain crime by looking at thre nature of society rather then the individuals. They argue that deviance is a necessary part of social life and it performs some positive functions. In additon to this, functionalists agree that social control mechanisms (police, courts,prisons) are necessary to prevent the rate of deviance becoming too high and to protect social order.
Functionalism - Durkheim
Durkheim proposes three key ideas in explaining crime and these are:
- Crime is inevitable - He says that crime is an inevitabe and normal aspect of social life. He says this is because not every member of society can be equally committed to the shared values and moral beliefs of society. This is because everybody is exposed to different influences and circumstances therefore not everyone is alike and hence someone would inevitably break the law - Crime has positive functions - A positive function is social regulation. He says that each time a person is arrested, it makes it clear for the rest of society that this behaviour is unacceptable therefore people are less likely to commit crimes if they see the punishment from another person. - Too much crime is bad for society - He says that crime only becomes dysfunctional when there is too much or too little of it
Durkheim suggests that punishment serves not to remove crime from society but to maintain the collective conscience of society. -
Functionalism - Merton
Merton argues that deviance results from the culture and structure of society itself. From this idea, he created the strain theory where he says that crime is due to there not been enough opportunities for people to achieve the normal success goals of a society. This then leads to a 'strain' between the goals and the means to achieve those goals which means that people turn to crime in order to reach those goals and achieve success.
Merton says that people have 5 ways that people can respond to these success goals.
- Conformity - pursuing goals in an accepted way (e.g working hard)
- Innovation - turn to crime
- Ritualism - try to achieve less elusive goals
- Retreatism - reject the goals and drop out of society
- Rebellion - reject the goals and acceptable way of achieving them (e.g terrorism)
- Durkheims idea that crime is beneficial to society has been criticised by other sociologists who argue that crime has a negative and traumatic effect on individuals, families & communities. Victims of crime wouldnt agree with Durkheim
- Mertons theory is useful for explaining economic crime but not for explaining crimes of violence or delinquency (e.g vandalism)
- Taylor criticised Merton for failing to consider the issue of power, for example, who makes the laws and who benefits from them
- Taylor, Walton & Young believe that Mertons theory does not explain politically motivated crime where people break the law as a political protest.
- Merton tends to over emphasize working class crime and ignores white-collar crime. He also fails to explain why the wealthy and powerful commit crimes.
Durkheim argued that all societies require some levels of deviance. However too much deviance suggests a breakdown of social order whilst too little suggests an unhealthy society. Merton explains crime committed by the working class as a reaction of capitalist societies.
Marxism is a structural perspective. This means that it sees the individual as far less important than the social structure. It looks at society as a whole rather than the individual within it. They see society as more important as it is society that makes people who they are as a result of influences from structures such as the family, the education system and religion
Marxists believe that society is based upon an explotative and unequal relationship between the bosses and the working class. For marxists, the system we live in (capitalism) divides everyone into two basic classes - the bourgeoisie & proletariat, where the bosses benefit in every way from how society works whilst the workers get far less than they deserve.
Traditionally, Marxists focus on the crimes of the powerful. Marxists argue that crime is an inevitable feature of a capitalist society because such society promotes greed and sellf-interest. They believe that the system perpetuates injusice and therefore the working class will revert to crime. They see crime and deviance as a result of some groups having the power to define the actions of other groups negatively and thereby control them. Neo-Marxists are strongly influenced by the ideas og Gramsci. He developed the idea that capitalism did not simply defend on the use of force or economic power to prevent the working class from rebelling. Instead he argues that hegemony was crucial in legitimating the capitalist system.
Marxism - Taylor, Walton & Young
Taylor, Walton & Young argue from a Neo-Marxist perspective that crime 'grows' from inequalities in wealth and power. They believe that individuals often choose to break the law and therefore crime should be understood in a more "holistic" way.
Marxism - Hall et al.
Hall et.al are also neo-marxists and argued that in the early 1970s British capitalism experienced a 'crisis of hegemony'. They have attempted to provide a detailed explanation of the crime.
Marxists essentially see crime and deviance as defined by the ruling class and used as a means of social control – if you don’t conform then you will be punished. Institutions such as the police, the justice system, prisons and schools, the family and religion are there to encourage you to conform.
Crime prevention strategies (1)
Situational crime prevention
This involves reducing opportunities for crime, not about improving society. Making it harder to commit crime - (locking doors, CCTV)
He describes situational crime prevention as a pre-emptive approach that relies on reducing opportunities for crime.
Situational crime preventions are:
- Directed at specific crimes (burgulary, street crimes)
- involve managing the environment of the crime
- aim to increase effort of crime and reduce rewards
As a right realist, he believes target hardening (locking doors and windows) and more CCTV/security will increase the risk of being caught and lower the rewards.
One criticism is that it does not reduce crime but moves it somewhere else (displacement). For example, if a shopkeeper moves the youths along, they are just going to move to another shop because they have no where to go. Chaiken found that when there was a crackdown on subway robberies in New York, the criminals would simply move elsewhere. Displacement can take several forms:
- Spatial - moving it elsewhere
- Temporal - committing it at a different time
- Tactical - using a different method
- Functional - committing a different crime
Another criticism is that it only focuses on petty crimes, for example - burgulary, anti-social behaviour). Therefore for higher crimes such as murder, this would not be useful.
This method also assumes that criminals make rational calculations. This means that although someone might have CCTV, a criminal is still likey to commit burgulary if they see something they want.
Crime prevention strategies (2)
Environmental crime prevention
This strategy is based upon the 'Broken windows' theory proposed by Kelling and Wilson in 1983, which says that there is a link between disorder and crime.
This theory suggests visible signs of decay (litter, broken windows, graffiti or abandoned housing) shows public disinterest which leads to a fear of crime that is greatest in these neighbourhoods. This therefore prompts 'respectable' community members to leave.
This undermines the communitys ability to maintain social order and so a decline in community members will follow
Enviromental crime prevention would suggest zero tolerance policing as a response. This is where minor crimes are treated with the same vigour as serious crimes in order to discourage them to continue this behaviour. Its reasoning is that it is easier to prevent a neighbourhoods slide into crime than trying to rescue it.
Impact of Zero Policing
- (Positive) Since 1993, major crimes in New York have fallen by 39% and murder has fallen by 49%. There is also similar results in the UK. Det Supt Mallon managed to deliver on his promise to cut crime by 20% in 18 months - figures for the 3 months showed a 22% fall.
- (Negative) There has been negative consequences of aggressive policing with accusations of heavy-handness by the police
- (Negative) The long term effects are unknown. It works well in densely populated areas with high policing levels and a large amount of petty crime but when the population is dispersed or crime rate is low, it has little effect. Also in areas of high racial tension, policing may leave people feeling victimised.
Crime prevention strategies (3)
Social & Community crime prevention
This says that the risk conditions of crime need to be addressed such as poverty, unemployment, poor housing etc. especially for youths and some ethnic minorities
Left Realism is a perspective developed from the 1980s. Realists focus on the reality of crime - what is actually happening, the impact of crime & the development of policies to reduce crime. They believe in political reform and argue that gradual social change would make society more equal and fair.
Crime & Deviance
Left realists believe that crime effects the working class, ethnic minorities and women. They say that these groups are more likely to be a) victims of crime b)have greater fear of crime c) are less likely to report crime.
Left realists believe that victimisation studies show that there is a widespread fear of crime and the poor are at greater risk of crimes, however they say that it is too simplistic to say that poverty is solely responsible for crime.
Left Realism Sociologists
Jock Young (1984)
1. Crime is caused by feelings of relative deprivation - groups feel deprived compared to others, therefore as a way to cope, they turn to crime
2. Groups feel marginalised. This means that they may commit crime as they cannot achieve their goals due to a lack of organisational representation.
3. (Subcultures) People may form a collective as a solution to feeling deprived. This may result in deviant behaviour such as violence or rioting. However not all subcultures are criminals and some may turn to religion.
Young (2003) more recently developed left realism and linked the explanations for crime to changes in society emerging in late modernity. He argued that late modern societies are media saturated and everyone is included in consumer culture through constant exposure to advertising and media generated lifestyles which raises expectations of what a 'good life' is like.
Left Realism Evaluation
Policing: Left realists believe that in order to deal with crime there should be an improvement in policing. They say that the police must improve relations within communities and increase time spent investiagting crimes.
Tackling structural causes: They also believe that issues that cause social inequalities must be dealt with. For example, reducing unemployment and improving housing.
- Fails to explain why people of the working class or ethnic miniorities do not turn to crime
- Only focuses on subcultural reasons for crime. This assumes that all subcultures share the same norms and values and therefore ignores the fact that some crimes are committed individually eg. burgulary.
Right realism was developed from the conservative thinkers and current labour government. They believe that human beings are naturally selfish and individualistic.
Crime and deviance
They believe that people are naturally inclined towards criminal behaviour if they can further their interests. They say that crime is rising because community ties and traditional values are breaking down. They believe that punishments for crime are not tough enough and that practical measures are needed to prevent and reduce crime.
They say the three causes of crime are:
(Biological factors) - People with low intelligence and an extrovert personality are said to contribute to a persons criminality
(Inadequate Socialisation) - Some families dont socialise their family to the correct norms ans values of society.
(Rational choice theory) - Criminals weigh up the cost and benefits of crime. If the cost of the crime is low, more people are likely to turn to crime.
Right realism evaluation
- If crime is tackled in one area, then it is likely to move somewhere else.
- Ignores wider causes of crime such as poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.
- Ignores white collar and corporate crimes