Functionalist Theories - Crime and Deviance

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The functionalist approach looks at society as a whole. It explains the source of deviance lies in the nature of society itself rather than in psychology or biology. It should be noted functionalists see deviance as an inevitable and necessary part of society. Some consider deviance to have positive aspects for society.

  • Emile Durkheim (1938) stated crime an 'integral part of all health societies' (cHaralambos, Holborn and Heald, 2000)
  • Crime is inevitable because not all members of a society can be committed to 'collective sentiments' (shared moral values) of society. Therefore crime happens in all societies
  • Even if there were a 'society of saints', as Durkheim described, there maybe no crimes such as robbery or murder but there would still be deviance; due to the standard of behaviour being very high the slightest slip up would be classed as a deviant act…


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