Crime & Society - Durkheim's Theory of Crime

1004 Words Sep 5th, 2012 5 Pages
CRIME AND SOCIETY

How might Durkheim’s concept of anomie be used to explain the deviant behaviour that is becoming apparent in all strata of society?

Emile Durkeim, describes how societies begin in simple forms of interaction and are held together by solidarity and likenesses. These homogenous societies he called “mechanical” with the growth of societies, together with technical and economic advances, make the inter-relationships more complicated and diverse. Members of society become more inter-dependent (“organic societies”), but viewed these changes as being natural and unavoidable, leading to greater happiness for individuals because they were released to enjoy goods produced by others and become a healthier society (a).
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Durkheim viewed anomie as a state of lawlessness existing at times of abrupt social change, and affecting in particular the state or normlessness, which exists when the insatiable desires of humans are no longer controlled by society. The overall disorder and dis-organisation, social and personal, shifts behaviour in the direction of crime. Historically Durkheim’s most important contribution has been to provide an analysis of the effect of social forces on individual behaviour.

Robert Merton, however, states that the primary aim was to discover how some social structures exert a definite pressure on certain people in society, which makes them engage in nonconforming rather than conforming conduct. He looked at variations in the rates of deviant behaviour, not at its incidence.(c). He claimed desires would regulate and control the individual’s willingness to use unacceptable ways to achieve these desires and the link between desires and means has led to a theory called “a strain theory”, preventing everyone pressured to succeed, but those who are unable or least likely to succeed by legitimate means, are under most strain to use illegitimate or illegal opportunities. Each culture and society has different elements which it considers worth striving for, and in America and the Western World this is wealth and through wealth, material