Assess the Usefulness of Consensus Approaches to an Understanding of the Reasons for Crime and Deviance in Society

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Middle class Pages: 3 (867 words) Published: January 7, 2013
Assess the usefulness of consensus approaches to an understanding of the reasons for crime and deviance in society According to consensus approaches, every society shares a set of core values known as collective conscience. The behavior which is different from these core values is to be viewed as deviant. Crime and deviance can be explained by consensus approaches through several theories. One explanation of crime and deviance from the functionalist perspective was Merton’s strain theory. He said crime is a response to failing to achieve society’s cultural goals. According to Merton’s explanation, all society set their members certain goals and provides socially approved ways of achieving these goals. When majority of the population were unable to achieve the socially set goals by the socially approved ways, they became disenchanted with society and find alternative ways of behaving. Additionally, Merton described 5 forms of behavior which is a response to failing to achieve society’s goals. Conformity and innovation are both accept the goals of society. Conformity also accepts the means of society and is non-deviant and non-criminal conformist citizen, while innovation means that the person will achieve those goals by using different ways (including deviance and crime). Ritualism and retreatism both reject their goals. Retreatism also rejects their means, depending upon drugs and alcohol and drugs. Ritualism accepts their means but has a negative attitude toward life. They may also rebel against society, and engage in protest and revolution to try and change society. Another explanation comes from Cohen’s subcultural theory. He claimed that today much offending behavior was not economically motivated, but done for the thrill of the act. Cohen suggests that working class youth try hard to accept and get the success goals of middle class, but lacked the opportunities to attain success. They feel they are denies status in society, known as status frustration. As...
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