Critically Discuss Three Sociological Approaches to Explaining Crime

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Critically discuss three sociological approaches to explaining crime?

One of the most predominant areas of study in sociology is in the explanation of crime and deviance in society. Criminal acts are those which violate established formal laws, whereas deviance refers to the breaking of social norms. Crime and deviance are a social construct as they are decided by the people in a society and can vary greatly depending on the society in question, as well as the time period being studied. In the past research focussed on pursuing biological explanations for people committing criminal or deviant acts. The prevalence of convicted male criminals and the discovery of the XYY chromosome pattern in male prison inmates lead some scientists to propose the ‘super male’ condition, with the extra Y chromosome causing increased aggression and tendency towards criminal behaviour. However this study failed to take into account that the XYY chromosome pattern existed in males in general society (affecting 1 in 1000 male births) who had never committed criminal acts. Sociologists now attempt to explain deviance in terms of social and cultural influences. There are three main sociological approaches to explaining crime and deviance; functionalist theory, action theory and conflict theory. The functionalist approach to deviance regards it as a natural and necessary function in society, serving to reaffirm our cultural values and even have a role in reforming those values. The French sociologist David Émile Durkheim was one of the principle proponents of structural functionalism and viewed deviance and crime as a beneficial, unifying force in society, in the context of how social members react to deviance. When violation of the traditional cultural and legal laws takes place, members of a society are able to recognise and reaffirm with each other the moral boundaries of their society. By coming together in opposition to the violation, members of a society demonstrate their...
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