Compare and contrast two main sociological theories of crime and deviance.

1639 Words Apr 10th, 2014 7 Pages
Compare and contrast the two main sociological theories of crime and deviance.

Deviance and crime are wide-ranging terms used by sociologists to refer to behavior that varies, in some way, from a social norm. Cultural Norms are society's propensity towards certain ideals; their aversion from others; and their standard, ritualistic practices. Essentially the 'norm' is a summation of typical activities and beliefs of group of people. This essay will evaluate the sociological theories associated with crime and deviance and to compare and contrast these main theories. And find links between these theories to today’s society. There are various Sociological deviance theories, including Structuralist: why do some people break the rules? ,
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On this note, Merton developed on Durkheim’s point that too much crime is dangerous to society .Merton observed American culture. He said that this society bought into the ‘American dream’ of having a successful career with lots of money, material possessions and a nice family. Merton said that in a balanced society everyone will be happy, however, he said American society isn’t balanced, so when people struggle to live up to societies norms and values they try and find other ways of achieving this success, and act normlessly. Merton called this a strain to anomie, and it is this normless behaviour which he said caused crime in society. Merton said there are five ways in which members of American society could respond to this strain to anomie: Conformiity, Innovation, Ritvaiailism, Retreatism, Rebellion. Merton believed the pressure exerted on people to succeed, a strain to anomie, meant that if they didn’t they would act normlessly to cope, and this could manifest itself in any of the 5 ways mentioned above.
There are weaknesses mentioned to the functionalist perspective as critics say they exaggerates working class crimes and ignores white-collar crimes committed by the wealthy in society. ­The biggest criticism of Merton’s work is that it doesn’t explain why people commit crimes that can’t be explained by a strain to anomie. For example freedom fighters who act criminally because of commitment

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