FELONY, MISDEMEANOR OR NONCONFORMITY
THAT IS THE QUESTION?
In modern day society we often speak of crime and deviance but what are they? Crime could be defined as being an act, by a person or persons of a specific society, which breaks the law of that society. This could be anything from not paying a Television Licence to committing an act of murder. Deviance however is when a person or persons do not conform to the social rules of their society by failing to adhere to the social “Norms and Values”. This could be some thing as minor as wearing the wrong type of clothing to a deviant act of murder and from this, we can conclude that crime is always deviant but not all deviancy is ...view middle of the document...
Functionalism looks at society as a Macro system that seeks to explain the existence of social structures by the role they perform in society. Members of society are bound together by the dominant normative system where factors such as reliability and respect lead to social stability. These factors are learned through the socialisation process which is key to functionalism. The functionalist theory sees consensus as being more prevalent than conflict, which is one of the main foundations for functionalism.
The Functionalist looks for the source of deviance in the nature of society and believes that crime and deviance are an internal part of all healthy societies. They believe that crime can be functional and for societies to be able to change, some form of deviance has to occur. Yesterday’s deviance must be tomorrow’s normality. Functionalists however, agree that social control mechanisms are needed in order to maintain social order this could be the implementation of the police who would oversee public order. Also the socialisation process and legal system comes into the fore regards control mechanisms, no socialisation no legal system.
According to Durkheim, value consensus is prevalent in society, people agree on what is right and wrong, however this must be defined by criminal law. If there is a limited amount of crime this is good for society but too much crime means that society is in danger of disintegrating. In society punishment shows people that certain crimes will not be tolerated are unacceptable and sets out the boundaries for the behaviour of individuals.
Erikson (1966) made it clear that the drama of a courtroom, such as the language used the appearance of the barristers and judge and where a certain type of ritual is used in the condemnation of criminal behaviour.
Durkheim goes on to tell us in true Functionalist belief that society is based on a set of shared values which he called “collective conscience”. However not everyone follows this and prefers to look after their own interest even to the cost of others in society. This Durkheim called “anomie which also returns people to their natural state of greed and self interest which goes towards the collapse of order and concurrence in society.
Durkheim conducted a study on suicide, which was once a criminal act in Britain but is now regarded as deviant, Haralambos pg 196 Durkheim’s “Le Suicide”, related suicide to social integration and was not just a product of the individual’s psychology. He compared countries, married and unmarried people and religious groups and discovered that the more a person was with other people the less likely they were to commit suicide. From this study he asserted that there were four types of suicide, which he stated were, Egoistic, Altruistic, Anomie and Fatalistic.
Egoistic suicide was most common among groups of individuals who had few connections to social grouping of any kind. An example of this could be Liberal Protestants...