Assess Functionalists Explanations for Patterns of Crime and Deviance

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“Assess functionalists explanations for patterns of crime and deviance.”

The patterns of crime and deviance have proven to be a popular topic amongst sociological groups, arguably because it crosses over with many key ideas and debates discussed within sociology. Functionalists are just one of numerous groups who have thrown there hat in the ring by attempting to provide a definitive answer behind the patterns of crime and deviance. However, like all explanations in one way or another, functionalists have been subject to criticism.

One of the most prominent functionalists to have lived, Durkheim, explained crime as a problem of modernity associated with the decline of mechanic solidarity, a society that is homogenous and in cohesion. In times of social change people may lose sight of the shared norms and values they’ve become accustomed too, creating a weaker collective conscience. Durkheim describes this state of ‘normlessness’ as anomie which is expressed not just through crime but, also by suicide, marital breakdown and industrial disputes. Anomie is used to describe why some people become dysfunctional in society and turn to crime. According to Durkheim, society becomes more individualistic because of anomie as people resort to what they do know, themselves, therefore not looking out for their community which would have once been the norm. However, Durkheim doesn’t acknowledge that anomie may not always result in individualism and can lead to the exact opposite. For instance, some people have formed stronger ties to their religious group in reaction to the emergence of the new media, which has caused wide scale social change.

Unlike most sociological theories of crime, Durkheim recognised that crime could be a force for good rather than always having negative repercussions. Too much crime and deviance can lead to uncertainty and disruption in society. However, a certain amount of crime can be viewed positively, helping to promote change and...
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