Sociology Essay example

953 Words Oct 26th, 2014 4 Pages
Using the material from Item A and elsewhere assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches in explaining crime. (21 Marks)
Crime is the act which breaks the criminal laws of society. The functionalists approach to crime and deviance gives us some insight into how society copes with deviant behaviour. However it has limitations for example it only looks at the functions of deviance and not the causes.
Durkheim says that to allow social solidarity to occur in society there are two key mechanisms which are socialisation and social control. He states that crime and deviance is inevitable and that it is needed in society as it preforms two positive functions; boundary maintenance and adaption. In Durkheim’s view, the purpose of punishment
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Durkheim also discusses that in modern societies there is a tendency towards anomie. The diversity of modern societies means that the collective conscious is weakened and this results in higher levels of crime and deviance.
Durkheim is criticised because he doesn’t explain how much of deviance is needed for society to function properly. He doesn’t explain why some people are criminals he only looks at the functions of crime and the existence of crime. Functionalism looks at what functions crime serves for society as a whole and ignores how it might affect different groups or individuals with in society. Crime doesn’t always promote solidarity; it may have the opposite effect leading to people becoming isolated for example men may force women to stay indoors for fear of attack.
Merton’s theory of anomie argues that people engage in deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means. Merton adapted Durkheim’s concept of anomie to explain deviance, his explanation combines two elements; structural factors and cultural factors. For Merton, deviance is the result of strain between the goal that a culture encourages individuals to achieve and what the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately. The ideology of the “American Dream” tells Americans that their society is meritocratic. However in reality many groups are disadvantaged and are denied opportunities for example they

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