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Durkheims functionalist theory

By Mayoya123 Feb 08, 2015 614 Words
Durkheim’s functionalist theory
-Functionalists see society as based on value consensus (members of society sharing common culture). -Culture: Set of shared norms (rules), values, beliefs and goals  shared culture produces social solidarity and binding people together. -Functionalists argue there are two mechanisms needed for society to achieve solidarity: Socialisation: instils the shared culture into its members ensuring we internalise the same norms and values, and meet society’s requirements. Social control: mechanisms include both + & - rewards for conformity and deviance, ensuring we behave the way society expects. The inevitability of crime

-Functionalists see too much crime as destabilising society; they also see crime as inevitable and universal. They believe that every society has some level of crime and deviance and a crime-free society is a contradiction in terms -Durkheim- views”crime is normal...an integral part of all healthy societies” -Two reasons crime& deviance are found in all societies:

*Not everyone is equally socialised into shared norms and values, so some will be prone to deviate. *In complex modern societies, different groups develop their own subculture with distinctive norms and values so what the members of the subculture regard as normal, mainstream culture may see as deviant. -Durkheim’s –In modern society there is a tendency towards anomie (normlessness) whereby the rules governing behaviour become weaker and less clear-cut ,because modern societies have complex division of crime on of labour ,leading to individuals becoming different from each other, -This diversity means that shared culture or collective conscience is weakened, resulting in higher levels of crime and deviance, e.g. Durkheim sees anomie as a major cause of suicide in modern societies. The positive functions of crime

-Durkheim believes crime fulfils two important positive functions Boundary maintenance adaptation -Crime produces a reaction from society, unites its members in condemnation of the wrongdoers and reinforcing their commitment to the shared norms and values(explaining the function of punishment). -Punishment is not to take

There must be a scope for them to challenge existing norms, this in itself is seen as deviance as it is seen as a ‘new’ message. However ,in the long run can be a new culture e.g being gay, If those with new ideas are suppressed adaptive changes are impossible. Durkheim believes the some of the following signals are malfunctioning to the social system *too much crime can threaten and tear bonds of society apart. *Too little means society is controlling and repressing us too much and getting rid of our freedom which would stop change.

Other functions of crime
-Davis: believes prostitution acts safely s a safety valve for the release of men’s sexual frustrations without threatening a monogamous nuclear family. -Polsky: pornography safely channels sexual desires away from adultery and threat the family -Cohen: view deviance as a warning that an institution is not functioning properly e.g high truancy rates means there are problems with the education system and things need to change, -Erikson: if crime & deviance have positive functions then why don’t we promote deviance -Erikson believes the real reason of agencies is for social control e.g police sustaining a certain level of crime rather than getting rid of it. -some societies regulate and manage deviance rather than eliminate it completely.e.g.carnivals, festivals licence misbehaviour that could otherwise be seen as deviant .Young people have the chance to ‘sow their wild oats’ on days like carnival -Functionalists believe- this way to cope with transition from childhood to adulthood. -Functionalists believe deviance can have hidden functions for society “not everything bad is bad for society”

Criticisms
-Crime strengthens solidarity ,but that does not mean society created crime in advance with the intention of strengthening solidarity -Functionalism fails to ask the question, ‘functional for whom?”

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