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May 9, 2018 / C H Thompson

Functionalist perspective of crime – revision notes with evaluative points

Why does crime occur in the first place? Every society has crime.

  • Abnormal levels of crime can occur in times of social upheaval.
  • The collective conscience is then weakened, causing a state of anomie (normlessness) to occur as people are just looking after their own interests rather then also taking into consideration others as well.
  • Therefore individualism can be a cause of crime and deviance (this links to the postmodern view on crime and deviance).

Criticisms of Durkheim – Evaluative points

(-)He fails to distinguish between types of crime -> some crimes are more harmful than others.

(-) He doesn’t explain why there is crime in the first place; just that it is a function of society -> surely people don’t commit criminal acts to make society better.

(-) The theory fails to consider who crime is functional for -> Marxists would argue that crime only functions for the ruling class.

(-) Not all crimes are positive and functional.

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