Functionalism + crime

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  • Created by: cathvin
  • Created on: 30-05-16 01:28


  • Crime is an integral part of all healthy socities
  • Certain amounts are positive - generates social change
  • Clarifies boundaries of acceptable behaviour following social reactions to deviance
  • Creates social integration + bonds society together against criminals
    • creates shared values which are needed for society to function


  • Marxism
    • ideal social change and values are manipulated by the ruling class
    • ruling class decide what 'criminal acts' are and how laws are enforced
    • reflect ideas of a ruling class rather than a shared value system
      • individuals adopt values against their interests
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Durkheim (II)

  • Too much crime challenges norms and values that unite society
    • this threatens social order and stability


  • Marxists
    • appearance of consensus is an illusion
      • conceals reality of one class imposing its will on the rest of society
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  • Deviance is a 'safety valve' - provides a relatively harmless expression of discontent
    • for example, men might use prositiution to escape family life without threatening family stability
  • Deviant acts warn about society's inadequacies
    • deviant subcultures form to reject mainstream culture
      • more deviance is created


  • Box
    • youths turn to deviance and form subcultures because of resentment towards teachers and middle class youth - don't share their values 
      • this is despite the functionalist belief of a 'common value bond' and deviance being a 'safety valve'
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  • Control theory
    • Family, school and other institutions contribute to social order by controlling everyone's deviant tendencies
      • if this social control is lacking or weak then deviant acts occur
    • There are four crucial bonds that bind people to society
      • attachment
      • commitment
      • involvement
      • belief


  • Hirschi later teamed up with Gottfredson
    • found it was self control and NOT attachment to society that prevents crime
    • high self control = less criminal behaviour and vice versa
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  • Crime is a product of 'bad socialisation'
  • Family is the building block of society
    • if families fail to instill the correct norms and values into their offspring then crime will occur


  • Interactionists
    • Parsons view is too deterministic
    • they highlight the role of human interaction in establishing criminal behaviour rather than basing crime solely on poor socialisation within the family
  • Ignores the fact that not all 'badly socialised' people commit crime 
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  • Strain theory
    • American + British societies socialise individuals to meet certain goals: material and financial success. Accepted ways of achieving this are talent, ambition and effort.
    • There is an inquality of opportunity for those from poorer income backgrounds - path to the top is blocked
      • results in an unbalanced society whereby there is too much emphasis on the cultural goals and not enough on the insitutional means (anomie). Individuals respond to this in one of five ways: 
        • conformity
        • innovation
        • ritualism
        • retreatism
        • rebellion (most likely to result in crime - for example, terrorism)


  • Taylor
    • Merton fails to consider wider power relations in society
    • Exaggerates working class crime and ignores white collar crime
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