Crime And Devinance-Functionalist Theories Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Crime And Devinance-Functionalist Theories Deck (13):

What did Durkheim believe about crime?

-norms and values act as a social glue

Saw crime and law as functional because:
-maintains boundaries of acceptable behaviour
-brings about adaptation and change


What did A.Cohen think crime functioned as?

A warning device that signals dysfunction in society eg terrorism


Explain Merton’s “Strain theory”

There is a strain between peoples success of the goal and the access to achieving it.

American culture makes people believe that they can achieve through hard work and effort but in reality they underachieve in education and end up in a bad job or unemployed leading them to crime

Some people have blocked opportunities eg w/c underachieving in education


Outline and explain Merton’s “5 possible strains”

Merton argued that individuals respond to the anomie caused by blocked opportunity in 5 ways

Conformity- accept goals and strive to achieve legitimately

Innovation- individuals create new ways of achieving goals eg theft

Retreatism- reject fails and means and become dropouts eg drug addicts

Rebellion- reject goals and means but act out against society and replace the desires to bring about change to create a new society eg terrorist

Ritualism- give up on trying and settle into a routine of dead end jobs


What did Etzioni believe about crime?

Believed that people in the West had too much freedom and not enough responsibility

Coined “communitarianism” to mean a system where the community works together to work out what is a good and bad

He favours social order where the community identifies the common good and persuades it’s members to act towards it


Explain Hirschi’s theory of social bonds of attachment

-examines the idea that people are deterred from crime because of social bonds

Attachment- to what extent we care about other people’s opinions

Commitment- the personal investments we make eg what would I lose if caught? Eg status

Involvement- how busy am I? Do I have time to commit crime?

Belief- how strong is a persons sense that we should obey the rules


General criticisms of functionalism

Ignores individuals motive for crime

Glorifies or excuses criminals and their acts

Doesn’t indicate how much crime is too much crime


Explain status frustration- A.Cohen(1955)

Drew up on Merton’s ideas

Acts weren’t committed due to being economically motivated but for the thrill

Lowers class boys lacked the means to attain success so it lead to status frustration- sense of personal failure

Rejected values and it is suggested that school is the key area for playing out

W/c pupils more likely to fail and be humiliated so to gain status they engage in anti social acts


Explain the illegitimate opportunity structure- Cloward and Ohlin(1960)

Criminal- thriving local criminal subcultures, with successful role models. Young offenders can work their way up the criminal ladder

Conflict- no local criminal subculture to provide a career opportunity. Groups brought up like this are likely to turn to violence usually against other similar groups

Retreatist- occurs when the individual has no opportunity or ability to engage in either of the two subcultures. They retreat to drugs/alcohol


Explain the 6 focal concerns-Miller

According to Miller, young w/c males are pushed towards crime by their imbedded values of their w/c subculture

Smartness- person looks good and is witty

Toughness- being physically strong is good

Autonomy- important to not be pushed around

Fate- individual has little chance to overcome the wider fate

Excitement- important to search for thrills

Trouble- “I don’t go looking for trouble but...”


Criticisms of status frustration

No discussion of women

Fails to prove that school is the place where success and failure are demonstrated


Evaluation of the illegitimate opportunity structure

Shows for some people there really is a criminal opportunity structure

Shares some weaknesses with Merton’s theory:
No discussion for female deviancy
Difficult to accept that it fits with one category


Evaluation of the focal concerns

Provides little evidence to show these are specifically lower class values