Crime and Deviance 2 Perspectives

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  • Topic: Sociology, Criminology, Émile Durkheim
  • Pages : 8 (2744 words )
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  • Published : May 18, 2006
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COMPARE AND EVALUATE ANY TWO OF THE FOLLOWING PERSPECTIVES ON CRIME AND DEVIANCE Crime is a word that most of the people can relate to, according to Collins dictionary it means; violation of the law. (Collins 2005) Deviance is a more difficult word to identify , Collins dictionary definition is; people who have diverged from usual or accepted standards of society, especially in social or sexual behaviour. Su Epstein (2005) who has a PhD , describes deviance in cultural societies as; there are no laws about norms, no norm police, but there is social expectation that we'll follow norms and if we do not we are deemed deviant, a rule breaker or a norm violator.(Epstein 2005) Sociologists have many theories on crime and deviance, the two theories that I will be evaluating are Functionalism and Labelling Theory, I shall be looking at how the theories relate to today's society compared with their origination in the mid 20th Century.

Functionalism in crime originated with Emile Durkheim in 1938. He argued that crime is an inevitable and normal aspect of social life,(Haralambos and Holborn) and that deviance is functional in society. How can this be when deviance is usually related to crime and breaking of the rules, how can this be functional? Durkheim supported his theory by suggesting that;

Societies have to have rules and rules are broken therefore he believes that deviance is normal. He believes that society always has rules and rule breakers and no human being is the same, for that reason there is always someone who behaves differently from others. Deviance needs to be controlled in order to preserve social order. Deviance can also be functional for society; a) source of beneficial social changes. b)condemnation and punishment of deviants helps to unify the rest of society (social solidarity) and establish moral boundaries. Durkheim believed that crime helped society to conform (expectations of a group, society, organization, or leader) and have moral standards towards crime because wrongdoing in society brings people together in condemning the deviant. Whilst he did not think crime was attractive he just alleged crime had positive functions. (Wincup and Griffiths 2005)

Durkheims theories are related to society today especially when focusing on the second point above, he mentions "preserved social order". This could be related to our gay societies of today. Homosexuals have been established a long while and they knew they were breaking the laws, as the majority of the rest of the world saw this as a criminal act, however it did not stop them from breaking the law as it was their way of life. Earlier this year the law was changed so that same sexed couples could have a civil wedding to enable them to be seen as equal to a man and a wife in law, because it was so much of an issue rules were changed. (marriage 2006) Therefore gay groups had put so much pressure on The Government that they changed the Laws to accommodate their needs. The changes in the law demonstrates how Durkheim`s theory can be seen as functional, although there is still a lot of criminal acts related to homophobia.. (Types of crime) Homophobic crime is when someone becomes a victim of crime because of their sexuality. This is not really a function as some people would see this as bullying and feel it should be eradicated, but in Durkheim`s ideas it could be seen as "social solidarity" because people are sharing their beliefs and values of their community. (Wincup and Griffiths 2005) Even though people think it is bullying and a form of crime, society is pulling together as one and pursuing their rights for what they personally believe in. Another example of social solidarity was in the 1980`s when the hundreds of people joined together and demonstrated in London against the Poll Tax. These riots were a criminal act but they were trying to make a point to The Government and get the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, out of Parliament. By 1992...
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