Functionalist approach towards crime & deviance is seen as a top down approach as it looks at society as a whole, stating that criminal behaviour is caused by society itself except from being caused through an individual’s biology & psychology. Durkheim sees deviance as inevitable also being necessary for our society, however other perspectives such as Marxist & Feminist may state otherwise.
Functionalist such as Merton explain crime through “strain theory” stating that individuals commit deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals through legitimate means, arguing that an individuals position in society affects how they respond to the strain to anomie. There are 5 types of adaption such as; Conformity is where individuals accept culturally approved goals & achieves them legitimately, this is usually found within the middle class. Innovation refers to Individuals who accept the goals of money & success however uses illegitimate means to achieve this success through activities such as Fraud & theft. Ritualism is usually associated to individuals who give up on trying to achieve goals however still how still follow rules for their own sake; on the other hand Retreatism describes individuals who reject both goals & legitimate means leading them to becoming dropouts which can result to individuals resulting becoming drug addicts. The final type is Rebellion individuals reject society’s goals & replace them with new ones in desire to bring about revolutionary change. This theory is useful as it explains how crime arises from mainstream goals as both conformist & innovators are pursing the same goal but one is legitimate & the other is illegitimate, however it all seems to take notice of utilitarian crime &