Acceptable And Unacceptable Behavior!
Limited amounts of crime are necessary within society in order show people what acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is, therefore giving them guidance.
(Basically teaching them the norms and values of society in terms of an individuals behaviour.)
The Role Of The Police, Courts And Media!
Functionalists also believe that the police, courts and media play a key role in showing the rest of society what acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is.
For example, when police arrest a person, they are making it clear to everyone else that the behaviour used by the individual is unacceptable.
When the courts and media publicise and depict crimes in a negative way, they are warning off society and reinforcing their authority and the boundaries set for unacceptable behaviour.
In the case of extremely horrific crimes, society joins together sharing the same amount and degree of disgust over the accused and crime committed, this then creates a higher consensus, shared values and social bonds.
Crime: Ultimately Threatening!
Functionalists overall believe that if too much crime is committed within society, it shall be ultimately threatening.
They see people as self-seeking, who prefer to look at their own interests even if at the expense of others.
This view of individuals can be confirmed and checked through two agencies of socialisation, the law and socialisation into a collective conscience (shared values),
The law is seen as the weaker of the two, whereas learning self control through socialisation of shared values is far stronger.
However, in times of social change or upheaval, individuals may be put outside of mainstream values therefore weakening the collective conscience.
This then means that individuals return to a state of greed and self interest, Durkheim calls this 'Anomie' which is the breakdown of social norms.
This idea fails to explain why certain people are more likely to comitt crime.
It also doesn't look at any social factors such as gender, ethnicity or class.