Comparing Functionalist and Traditional Marxist Perspectives on Crime

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There are many theories on why crime exists as well has who is committing the crimes and the underlying reasons behind it The two main perspectives being Traditional Marxist and Functionalist both with different views they share very little in common, however they do agree that society shapes the individual and not the individual that shapes society. What is meant by that is that we are all products of our upbringings and learn through socialisation what our beliefs are, what we agree on personally and often shared beliefs and the understanding of what is 'the norm; through our primary interaction with others beginning at home and continuing onto schooling and work. Our beliefs aren't always set …show more content…
I was Emile Durkheim who began the study that gave birth to functionalist approaches to crime. Merton brought about further study when he developed his 'strain theory' in the 1930's during the 'great depression' where there were large amounts of unemployment and changes occurring at that time in the US. Merton believed that crime was rife due to values not imitating what was actually happening economically at that time. Thirty years later Hirschi introduced his 'control theory', which was based upon Durkheim's early studies, he agreed with Durkheim on crime being the norm in society.

When a serious crime is committed and thus becomes public knowledge through media attention, functionalists believe that there are bonds within society that are strengthened and a sense of horror is felt. Durkheim called this a 'collective conscience', however not all people follow the masses in mutual horror and can prefer their own needs to those of others. Durkheim had a belief in crime and deviance not just being the makeup of a few 'sick' individuals but is part
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