Explanations of Crime

Explanations of Crime
Functionalists like Emile Durkheim view society as a system of highly unified groups or parts that operate in harmony with each other.   Durkheim believed that there was a consensus over societies’ norms and values resulting in social order.   He saw crime as normal in terms of its existence, and even as having positive social functions in terms of its consequences. Crime was normal and no society could enforce total conformity to its injunctions, and if society could, it would be so repressive as to leave no freedom for the social contributions of individuals. Deviance from the norms of society is necessary if society is to remain flexible and open to change and new adaptations.
‘Where crime exists, collective sentiments are sufficiently flexible to take on a new form, and crime sometimes helps to determine the form they will take. How many times, indeed, it is only an anticipation of future morality--a step toward what will be’
-Emile Durkheim
But in addition to such direct consequences of crime, Durkheim identified indirect functions that are no less important. A criminal act, Durkheim reasoned, elicits negative sanctions in the community by arousing collective sentiments against the infringement of the norm.
Functionalism views society as a social system of interconnected parts – a bit like a human body with each part of the body depending on the other to ‘function’ In the same way the body needs the heart, lungs and brain to work together for the body to survive. Instead of a heart and lungs, society has social institutions like schools, families and the police that work together so the social body can survive Durkheim (1859 -1917) argued the Division of Labour was key to regulating modern societies With the division of labour people contributed to the functioning of the social body by their individual tasks Their individual tasks help create a Value consensus of shared common goals and these help society to function properly   These...