The Influence of Durkheim on Modern Criminological Investigation

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The ‘father of academic sociology’ (Hopkins Burke, 2006), Emile Durkheim believed that crime was an important necessity in every society as it played important functional roles in the maintenance of social cohesion, the continuity of social progress and the establishment and reinforcement of societal norms. He stated that criminality was a normal phenomenon, its influence prevalent even on the most saintly of societies. Durkheim’s theories regarding the normality and inevitability of crime, along with his influential concepts of anomie, the division of labour and mechanical and organic solidarity, had a lasting effect on the field of criminological study, particularly in subsequent research conducted by fellow populist theorists of the…show more content…
Crime serves and adaptive function by allowing change and development in not only the social system, but also the legal system. A particular crime, for example, may evoke high degrees of moral outrage from members of a community, which in turn may lead to the amendment of related legislations in an effort to further criminalise future events of a similar nature and appease the public. On the other hand, modernisation of a society, which is followed by the revision and reestablishment of social norms and goals, acts previously deemed immoral and criminal in traditionalist communities may be decriminalised and become entrenched as a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice. Durkheim mentions Socrates as an example of crime fulfilling an adaptive function. Socrates’ philosophies were regarded as dangerous, whilst he was seen as a criminal and condemned to death by his own society, today he is recognised as one of the most brilliant and advanced minds of his generation. Crimes other vital function involves the reinforcement or particular norms and legislations. When a specific crime is committed, media portrayals of events and the general public and legislative reactions are enough to reaffirm social norms and boundaries of behaviour. Several sociological positivists agree with Durkheim’s view of crime is normal and is some, limited way helps maintain a healthy, cohesive society, there are quite a large number of
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