Outline and Assess Functionalist Explanations of Crime and Deviance [50 Marks]
Pease (1994) said, ‘Crime comprises those actions which are deemed so damaging to the interest of the community that the state determines that it must take a direct role in identifying and acting against the criminal.’ Downes and Rock (1998) said ‘Deviance may be considered as banned or controlled behaviour which is likely to attract punishment or disproval.’ In short, ‘Deviance’ is a asocial construct that can change across time and place and ‘Crime’ is an action that breaks the law. Functionalism is a structural theory based on value consensus. Functionalists believe that in order to achieve solidarity, society has two key mechanisms, ‘Socialisation’ and ‘Social Control.’ ‘Socialisation’ is the process by which we learn the norms and values of society, firstly through the family and then through other institutions such as education. ‘Social Control’ means the formal ways of insuring people conform to the mainstream norms and values of society.
One key opinion of the functionalist perspective is that crime is a good thing. Factionalists view crime as beneficial for society because we can learn from it, they would argue that if, for example, a woman was walking alone in a short dress down a dark alleyway way in town and was sexually assaulted, then the rest of society could learn from this and avoid being alone, wearing revealing clothing and walking down dark alleyways. However, the victim does obviously not see this as positive! Because of the view that crime is needed, Emile Durkheim stated that crime was inevitable as it provided two main functions; ‘Boundary Maintenance’ and ‘Adaption to Change.’ ‘Boundary Maintenance’ is view that crime produces a reaction from society uniting its members in disapproval of criminals. This explains the function of punishment, which is to reaffirm society’s shared rules. ‘Adaption to Change’ is the view that all changes start with acts of...
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