Functionalist Theory of Crime


A-Level Sociology (Crime & Deviance) Mind Map on Functionalist Theory of Crime, created by A M on 05/04/2016.
Mind Map by A M, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by A M almost 8 years ago

Resource summary

Functionalist Theory of Crime
  1. DURKHEIM sees crime as a normal part of healthy societies: In every modern society, some individuals are inadequately socialised and prone to deviate; In modern societies, there is a highly specialised division of labour & a diversity of subcultures. Individuals & groups become increasingly different from one another, & shared rules of behaviour become less clear (ANOMIE).
      1. DURKHEIM claims society requires a certain amount of deviance to function but offers no way of knowing how much is the right amount.
        1. DURKHEIM & other Functionalists explain crime in terms of it's function, but just because crime does these things doesn't necessarily mean this why it exists in the first place.
          1. Crime produces a reaction from society, uniting it's members against the wrongdoer & reinforces their commitment to value consensus.
            1. Punishment reaffirms shared rules & reinforces solidarity.
              1. For change to occur, individuals with new ideas must challenge existing norms, & at first this will appear as deviance. If this is suppressed, society will be unable to make necessary adaptive changes & will stagnate.
              2. SAFETY VALVE
                1. DAVIS argues that prostitution acts to release men's sexual frustrations w/o threatening the nuclear family.
                2. WARNING LIGHT
                  1. COHEN argues that deviance indicates that an institution is malfunctioning e.g. high truancy rates may indicate problems w/ the education system.
                3. MERTON'S STRAIN THEORY
                  1. MERTON argues that people engage in deviant behaviour when they cannot achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means. His explanation combines:
                    1. Structural Factors: society's unequal opportunity structure.
                      1. Cultural Factors: the strong emphasis on success goals & weaker emhasis on using legitimate means to achieve them.
                      2. THE AMERICAN DREAM
                        1. For MERTON, deviance is the result of a strain between the goals a culture encourages individuals to aim for & what the structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately.
                          1. e.g. the 'American Dream' emphasises 'money success'. Americans are expected to pursue this goal by legitimate means e.g. education, hard work.
                            1. The ideology claimis that American society is meritocratic, but in reality, poverty & discrimination block opportunities for many to achieve by legitimate means.
                              1. The pressure is increased by the fact that American culture puts more emphasis on achieving success at any price than upon doing so by legitimate means. Winning the game is more important than playing by the rules.
                              2. The resulting strain between the cultural goal (money success) & the lack of legitimate opportunities produces frustration & a pressure to resort to illegitimate means.
                            2. MERTON seeks to explain different patterns of deviance. He argues that an individual's position in the social structure affects how they adapt to the strain to anomie. He identifies 5 adaptations.
                              1. CONFORMITY: individuals accept the culturally approved goals & strive to achieve them legitimately - the middle class.
                                1. INNOVATION: individuals accept the money success goal but use illegitimate means to achieve it - the working class.
                                  1. RITUALISM: individuals give up on the goal, but have internalised the legitimate means & follow the rules for their own sake - the lower middle class.
                                    1. RETREATISM: individuals reject both goal & legitimate means, & drop out of society - addicts, vagrants etc.
                                      1. REBELLION: individuals replace existing goals & means w/ new ones w/ the aim of bringing about social change - political radicals.
                                      2. STRENGTHS OF MERTON'S APPROACH
                                        1. Shows how both normals & deviant behaviour can arise fro the same mainstream goals.
                                          1. Explains the patterns shown in official statistics.
                                            1. Most crime is property crime because American society values material wealth so highly.
                                              1. Working-class crime rates are higher because they have least opportunity to obtain wealth legitimately.
                                                1. Not all working-class people deviate
                                                  1. Ignores the power of the ruling class to make & enforce rules
                                                  2. Takes official statistics at face value.
                                                2. CRITICISMS OF MERTON
                                                  1. Criticised by subcultural strain theories & build upon it - see deviance as the product of delinquent subcultures.
                                                    1. COHEN - MERTON ignores the group deviance of delinquent subcultures.
                                                      1. COHEN - MERTON ignores non-utilitarian crimes (e.g. assault, vandalism) which may have no economic motive.
                                                    2. COHEN: STATUS FRUSTRATION
                                                      1. Notes that working-class boy face anomie in the middle-class educations system.
                                                        1. They are culturally deprived & lack the skills to achieve, leaving them at the bottom of the official status hierarchy & suffer status frustration as a result. They resolve it by rejecting mainstream middle-class values & turn instead to others in the same situation, forming a subculture.
                                                        2. For COHEN, the subculture offers an illegitimate opportunity structure for boys who have failed to achieve legitimately.
                                                          1. The subculture provides an alternative status hierarchy where they can win status through delinquent actions.
                                                            1. Its values are spite, malice, hostility and contempt for those outside it. The subculture inverts mainstream values. What society praises, it condemns; e.g. society respects property, whereas the boys gain status from vandalising it.
                                                            2. CRITICISMS OF COHEN
                                                              1. COHEN assumes working-class boys start off by sharing middle-class success goals, only to reject them when they fail. He ignores the posibility that they never shared these goals & so weren't reacting to failure.
                                                            3. CLOWARD & OHLIN: 3 SUBCULTURES
                                                              1. Note that not everyone adapts to a lack of legitimate opportunities by turning to 'innovation'. Some subcultures resort to violence; others turn to drug use.
                                                                1. The key reason for these differences is unequal access to illegitimate opportunity structure e.g. not everyone who fails at school can become a successful safecracker.
                                                                  1. Different neighbourhoods provide different illegitimate opportunities to learn criminal skills & develop criminal careers. They identify 3 types of subcultures that result:
                                                                    1. CRIMINAL SUBCULTURES
                                                                      1. Provide youths w/ an apprenticeship in utilitarian crime. They arise in neighbourhood where there is a longstanding, stable criminal culture & a hierarchy of professional adult crime.
                                                                      2. CONFLICT SUBCULTURES
                                                                        1. These arise in areas of high population turnover that prevent a stable professional criminal network developing. The only illegitimate opportunities are within loosely organised gangs.
                                                                        2. RETREATIST SUBCULTURES
                                                                          1. The 'double failures' who fail in both the legitimate & the illegitimate opportunity structures often turn to a retreatist or 'dropout' subculture based on illegal drug use.
                                                                      3. CRITICISMS OF CLOWARD & OHLIN
                                                                        1. Ignore crimes of the wealthy & the wider power structure.
                                                                          1. Over-predict the amount of working-class crime.
                                                                            1. Draw the boundaries too sharply between the different types. Actual subcultures show characteristics of more than one 'type'.
                                                                              1. Wrongly assumes that everyone starts off sharing the same goals.
                                                                              2. STRENGTHS OF CLOWARD & OHLIN
                                                                                1. Try to explain the different types of working-class deviance in terms of subcultures.
                                                                              Show full summary Hide full summary


                                                                              Realist Theories
                                                                              A M
                                                                              Control, Punishment & Victims
                                                                              A M
                                                                              Ethnicity, Crime & Justice
                                                                              A M
                                                                              Gender, Crime & Justice
                                                                              A M
                                                                              Julia Romanów
                                                                              AQA A2 Biology Unit 4: Populations
                                                                              Charlotte Lloyd
                                                                              AQA Physics: A2 Unit 4
                                                                              Michael Priest
                                                                              Coloured Compounds (AQA A2 Chemistry)
                                                                              Filip Lastovka
                                                                              Sociology: Crime and Deviance Flash cards
                                                                              Beth Morley
                                                                              The Weimar Republic, 1919-1929
                                                                              Globalisation Case Studies