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Flashcards in Crime and Deviance Deck (15):

Durkheim functionalist theory

While functionality’s see too much crime as destabilising society, they also see crime as inevitable and universal.
1. Not everyone is equally effectively socialised into the shared norms and values, individuals will be prone to deviance.
2. There is a diversity of lifestyle and values. Different groups develop their own subcultures with distinctive norms and values.


Anomie/ normlessness

The rules governing behaviour becomes weaker and less clear cut. This is because modern societies have a complex, specialised division of labour, which leads to individuals becoming increasingly different from one another.


Durkheims two positive functions of crime

1. Boundary maintenance: crime produces a reaction from society, uniting its members in condemnation of the wrongdoer. Punishment reinforces social solidarity. Publicly shaming them.
2. Adaptation and change: all change start with an act of deviance.

Davis: prostitution act as a safety valve for the release of men’s sexual frustration without threatening the monogamous nuclear family.
Polsky: pornography safely channels a variety of sexual desires away from alternative.


Morton’s strain theory

Strain theory argues that people engage in deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means. They may become frustrated and resort to criminal means of getting what they want.


What 2 things for Merton is the result of strain between:

1. The goal that a culture encourages individuals to achieve.
2. What the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately.


The American Dream

Americans are expected to pursue this goal by legitimate means: self discipline, study, educational qualifications and hard work in a career. However the reality is different: many disadvantaged groups are denied opportunities to achieve legitimately.
Block opportunities for many ethnic minorities and the lower class.


Criticisms of Durkheim functionalist theory

For Durkheim society requires a certain amount of deviance to function successfully, but he offers no way of knowing how much is the right amount.

Functionalists look at what functions crime serves for society as a whole and ignores how it might affect different groups or individuals within society.


5 different types of adaptations to strain

1. Conformity ++
2. Innovation +-
3. Ritualism -+
4. Retreatism - -
5. Rebellion-+ -+


Evaluation of Merton

Merton shows how normal and deviant behaviour can arise from the same mainstream goals.
However, it over represent wc crime, Merton sees crime as a mainly wc phenomenon. Too deterministic
Marxists argue it ignores the power of the ruling class


Subcultural strain theories

Subculture strain theories see deviance as the product of a delinquent subculture with different values from those of mainstream society. Provides alternative opportunity structure for those who are denied the chance to achieve by legitimate means. Critics and builds on Mertons theory.


Cohen: status frustration

Cohen focuses on deviance among Wc boys. They face anomie in the mc dominated school system. The boys reject mainstream mc values and turn instead to other boys in the same situation forming a delinquent subculture. Win status from their peer through their delinquent actions.


Evaluation of Cohen’s theory

A strength is that it offers an explanation of non utilitarian deviance.
Like Merton, Cohen assumes that wc boys starts off by sharing mc success goal, he ignores the possibility that they didn’t share these goals in the first place.


Cloward and Ohlin: three subcultures

Cloward and Ohlin attempts to explain why different subculture responses occur. In their view the key reason is unequal access to legitimate and illegitimate opportunity structure. Different neighbourhoods provides different illegitimate opportunities for young people.
1. Criminal subculture
2. Conflict subcultures
3. Retreatist subcul


Evaluation of Cloward and Ohlin

They agree with Merton and Cohen that most crime is wc, thus ignoring crimes of the wealthy.
Their theory over predicts the amount of wc crime


Labelling theorists

They ask how and why some people and actions are labelled as criminal or deviance, and what effects this has on those who are so labelled.
Official statistics is not a hard fact, but a social construct