‘Asses the usefulness of functionalist approaches to our sociological understanding of crime and deviance’ (21 Marks)
This essay will look at how functionalist have made it clearer and easier for us to understand the reasons crime and deviance is needed for society and will also look at different theories and their usefulness.
Durkheim looks at how crime and deviance is inevitable and needed in society as it performs two important positive functions: boundary maintenance and adaptation and change, he says that boundary maintenance is when society reacts to crime and there is social cohesion, and this leads to society condemning the criminal and the punishment given by the social agencies is a way of reaffirming societies shared rules and reinforce social solidarity. The media portrays the court case and the punishment; this acts a way of informing members of society and discourages others from rule breaking. Adaptation and change for Durkheim is when an individual has an idea or belief which is seen to be deviant by rest of the members of society, they fight and challenge the existing norms and values, in time there values may give way to a new culture and morality and not seen as deviant anymore such as cohabiting couples would be seen as deviant due to the couples not been married but in current times it is not deviant as it is more popular in society. These changes in values and in society allow society to progress and evolve.
Durkheim has been criticised in terms of that he does not explain how much crime and deviance is the right amount for society to function properly. He does not provide the causes behind crime, carry on from crime he also talks about how crime serves and benefits society but ignores the effect of this on other individuals and groups of society; he also does not focus on groups and other societies around the world just individuals. Feminists would criticise Durkheim by saying that there is no focus on crime committed by women....