Functionalist Prospective on Deviance

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The functional perspective on deviance maintains that our society is a system of social institutions, that work together to make up whole. These institutions are based on our needs and balance each other to give our norms and morals significance. If some part of this whole is not useful, it will disappear; and in the same way if something is absent, but needed, it will be created. Deviant behavior is necessary in our society, because it provides justification for our norms. If there were no deviance there would not be ‘normal' behavior.

Functionalism focuses on the consequences of behavioral patterns. It attempts to analyze and explain the parts of society in reference to the function they serve. When we apply this to deviance we can explain why it is necessary for it to exist in order for our society to work. When someone is deviant and are punished, it reiterates the importance of our needs and what we must do to keep them intact.

Deviance has four main functions in our society that the functional theorists focus on. These functions are jobs, providing moral boundaries, control of surplus labor, and promotion of solidarity. Deviance creates jobs for people such as police, who are there to control deviance. Deviance defines our moral boundaries by telling us what is right, through showing us what is wrong. We show what is wrong by punishing acts that are considered deviant. When people act deviant they are veering away from the mainstream path. When they do this they are inevitably creating their own path. This controls the surplus of labor, because it provides that only the people on the ‘right' track will be able to find employment and success. Lastly, deviance promotes solidarity. When people deviate it gives others, who do not participate in that activity, the ability to condemn them. When a group is able to collectively condemn others it makes the condemned group inferior. Therefore, deviance solidifies society when it provides...
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