Assess the View That Crime Is Functional

1683 Words Apr 2nd, 2013 7 Pages
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Assess the view that crime is functional, inevitable and normal. (33 marks)

Within the sociological perspectives of crime and deviance, there is one particular approach which argues that crime is functional, inevitable and normal. This sociological perspective, Functionalism, consists of Emile Durkheim’s work on crime and deviance. His main argument was that ‘crime is normal’ and that it is ‘an integral part of all healthy societies’. This perspective views crime and deviance as an inevitable feature of all societies which is universal. However, Durkheim did argue that too much crime can lead to the destabilisation of society.

Durkheim identified three positive aspects of crime which make it a functional component of society. He done
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Merton stated that each and every society sets goals and also establishes socially-approved means of obtaining these goals. When individuals are not able to meet these standards through the means which have been inaugural rated, they turn to other options which can involve crime and deviance. This shows that, according to Merton, crime can fulfil a dysfunctional role within society. The options which he identified were conformity, innovation, rebellion, ritualism and re-treatism. These responses to the socially approved goals and means can sometimes lead to criminal activity and subsequently, a dysfunctional society.

Firstly, conformity is when an individual adheres to both the goals and the means despite the limited chances of success. This can result in a functional society as all of the socially approved concepts are accepted and adopted within the person's life, thus, excluding crime. Secondly, innovation refers to when goals are accepted but individuals find different ways to achieve them. These methods are often criminal. For instance, if an individual wants the socially approved goal of owning those aspects which make him/her of a higher reputation, they can turn to organised theft and in some cases, white collar crime. Ritualism refers to when an individual uses the means but loses sight of the goals whereas retreatism refers to when the individuals rejects both the goals and the means. Individuals who are dependent