Sociology G673 - Topic 3

Cue cards showing explanations of crime from Topic 3

  • Created by: Laura
  • Created on: 18-01-12 14:50



  • Crime and deviance is functional - A certian amoiunt of crime and deviance can be seen as postivie for society. It is necessary to generate social change as innovation only comes about if old ideas are being challenged.
  • Crime and deviance is dysfunctional - Durkheim believed that crime and devinace also acts as a threat to society. This is because the norms and values that 'unite' society are being challeneged, thus threatening consensus, social order and stability.
  • Cause of crime and deviance - Durkheim believed that crime and deviance occured as a result of anomie (normlessness), he bleieved this could occur during periods of rapid social change when people become unsure of what societies norms and values are.
  • Social order and social control - Durkheim believed that in modern societies there was an agreement or consensus over societies norms and values, which resulted in social order and stable societies. Durkheim believed this occured because societies instutions successfully implemented socil control (positive as it creates social cohesion).

+ Served to generate a great deal of subsequent research and influence other sociological theories on crime and deviance.
- The very idea that crime can be beneficial is questionable as it is hardly to seem that way for the victim. 

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Parsons - Argued with Durkheim that sickness could be seen as deviant and has the potential for de-stabilising society. He therefore sees medical profession as performing an important social control function by restricting access to the 'sick role'. In this way illegitimate illness is minimised and social order and stability is maintained. 

Merton - Believed American/British society socialises individuals to meet certain shared goals 'The American Dream' and to follow approved means or ways to achieve the goals, e.g. hard work and effort.

"Anomie is a strain between goals set by society and the lefitimate means of achieving them"

Merton argued capitalist societies suffered from anomie. Merton claimed this strain was a product of an unequal social class structure that blocked many peoples attempts to reach the goals set by society through the legitmate opportunity structure.

- Anomie is difficult term to operationalise, as how can it be measured? If it is measured by the amount of crime, a circular arguement is created as Merton does not explain where the goals and means have come from or whose purpose they serve
- Assumes that there is a common value system to deviate from
- Do not recognise subcultures
- Very accepting of official statistics is valid

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