Assess the Usefulness of Functionalist Approaches in Explaining Crime. (21)

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Functionalists look at society as a whole. They explain crime and deviance by stating that the source of deviance lies in the nature of society rather than the individual. Durkheim states that crime and deviance is inevitable and a certain level is necessary for society to exist. He also claims that it is a positive aspect of society as it shows examples of rights and wrongs within society and by punishing offenders, through ways such as public humiliation and portraying crime as wrong, raises awareness of crime and therefore deters others from committing crime along with creating a collective conscience. He also argues that crime and deviance allows social change to occur which is needed in order for society to remain stable. Durkheim’s …show more content…

He believes that the formation of the subcultures release the status frustration by creating their own values for achieving status and therefore deviant behaviour becomes normal and valued within the group. This is useful when looking at explanations of crime as it highlights that crime and deviance is a collective rational response to the norms and values of society. However, Cohen fails to consider why women in society commit crimes and form subcultures. He has also been criticised as we cannot be sure that the working class know the middle class values enough in order to purposely reject them. Furthermore, Cloward and Ohlin combine Merton and Cohen’s theories by stating that there is a legitimate opportunity such as passing exams and getting a job, and an illegitimate opportunity, such as gangs. They believe that the working class have easier access to the illegitimate structure meaning that it is easier for them to commit more crimes and so face more pressure to do so. Cloward and Ohlin claim that there are 3 types of subcultures: criminal subculture in which people climb the professional criminal hierarchy, conflict subculture in which there is little/no social cohesion and retreatest subcultures in which people fail in both the legitimate and illegitimate opportunity and retreat to things such as alcohol and drugs. This is useful when looking at explanations of crime as it highlights the

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