Crime and Deviance in Society

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Crime Pages: 6 (2274 words) Published: September 6, 2013
Crime and deviance constitute a classic pathology within societies which has led to a variety of responses at political and societal level. This essay will explore crime the cause of crime and deviance with two theories, the labelling theory and biological theory. As Melossi notes, ‘the struggle around the definition of crime and deviance is located within the field of action that is constituted by plural and even conflicting efforts at producing control’ (1994) p.205 Every culture has unique norms governing what it considers to be suitable behaviour. For example laws, dress codes, rules of sports and games, all convey social norms. But what if someone deviates from these expectations? Deviance is behaviour that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society Wickman (1991) p.85. - Therefore deviance helps to identify limits of appropriate behaviour. Moreover deviant behaviour violates social norms, and some forms of deviance carry a negative social stigma, while other forms are relatively accepted. Crime and deviance can be seen as functional. In accordance with functionalists, deviance is a normal part of human existence, with good and bad consequences for social stability. For instance a child seeing her little sister told off by the parents will learn about accepted conduct. An act can be criminal and not deviant for instance the driver receiving a fine for being on the phone while driving or a fine for speeding. Downs & Rock (1998) p.32 ‘Deviance may be considered as banned or controlled behaviour which is likely to attract punishment or disapproval.’ - Consequently, deviance is the recognised violation of cultural norms and crime is the violation of a society’s enacted criminal law. Durkheim believed that a certain amount of crime and deviance could be seen as positive for society. Crimes were necessary to generate social change, as innovation only comes about if old ideas are confronted. It also helped to elucidate the limits of acceptable behaviour following social reactions to deviance. -Therefore it creates social integration as it connects society cooperatively against criminals. - Conversely, there is evidence that a community does not always come together in reaction to crime; sometimes fear of crime drives people to withdraw from public life War & Ellison (2000) - Durkheim were more interested in the nature of the relationship involving deviance and order in society. To him perhaps the motivations of criminalities would possibly be the lack of socialisation. Durkheim insisted on harmony of society and the faith that the law returns the interests and views of the majority of the public, although he appears to ignore the concept of power. In most societies some groups have superior ability than most of the population to manipulate the law making process. - However Crime and deviance can also be seen as dysfunctional, like Durkheim states it acts as a threat to society too. Since the norms and values that bond society are being challenged, consequently threatening consensus, social order and stability. Durkheim looks to society for a justification of crime rather than the biological or psychological part of the individual Henry S. & al (2001). - Moreover, functionalists do not specify why an individual commit a deviant act or why crimes do or do not happen. Although it is understood that Durkheim made a great input to the study of crime and deviance and influenced some sociological theories on crime and deviance (control theories). However, It is not apparent at what point the right amount of crime is required and positive and when it becomes excessive and generates instability. Since individuals are exposed to diverse influences and circumstances, it is ‘impossible for all to be alike’. Hence not everyone is equally reluctant to break the law. Also the thought that crime can be favourable to society is debatable; what would the victim of the crime say? And this reveals a...

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