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May 9, 2018 / C H Thompson

Functionalist perspective of crime – revision notes


What are the functions of crime? It reinforces value consensus and social solidarity

  • Durkheim said that the collective conscience created through crime provides boundaries to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. This is known as boundary maintenance.
  • Crime unities society’s members by producing a reaction, and therefore reinforcing their feelings against wrong-doers and their commitment to the value consensus.
  • Positive and negative sanctions (rewards and punishments) govern people’s behaviour, and remind people about what is right and wrong, reaffirming society’s values.

 Other functions of crime

Albert Cohen

  • Cohen also said that deviance acts as a warning signal to a particular institution that suggests it isn’t functioning properly.
  • For example if there are high rates of students acting out and being naughty in schools, then it can suggest that the education system has problems


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