Functionalist Theory Of Crime And Deviance

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Crime and deviance are a greatly discussed topic in the world of sociology. There are numerous theories of why people break laws and violate social norms. While all of them have a way of explaining the possible reasoning behind it, I think that conflict theory does the best job of helping us understand the concepts of why deviance and crime happen. Their beliefs that the most powerful in our society define what is deviant, the reasons that crime is functional and dysfunctional and its idea of strain theory are the most useful in explaining crime and deviance. Functionalist believe that the most powerful in our society are responsible for defining what is deviant or a crime. This idea is useful in the understanding of crime because the average…show more content…
While most see crime as dysfunctional, they explain how crime can function as a benefit within our society. One of the best functions of deviance that functionalist see per our book is “Affirms cultural norms and values” (Pg.126). Crime and deviance helps people within a society know what is considered right and wrong. By seeing the negative sanctions for deviant behavior, people within a society have those norms reinforced as deviance. An example of this would be a child is scolded when he doesn’t raise his hand and wait to be called on. Functionalist also say that it “triggers social change” (Pg.126). This can be seen numerous times throughout history and even happening in our society today. What was once considered deviant or a crime is now acceptable in our society. An example of this is LGBT community and being gay. This was once viewed as deviant behavior in our society. But because of their deviant behavior we are forced evaluate our norms and in turn the legalization of gay marriage happened. If that deviance never happened we would not have progressed our norms to include gay marriage being acceptable, while some still reject this…show more content…
Strain theory says that crimes are committed when people “experience a conflict between goals and the means available to obtain the goals” (Pg.127). This is especially true for lower class citizens that commit crimes to achieve what they see as success and feel they cannot obtain otherwise. An example of this can be seen in the poor populations that want to have money but turn to drug dealing because they feel they cannot get a job to make that money. This example of innovation is one of the modes of adaptation that Merton outlines in the book. Another way that the strain theory is adapted is rebellion. When people take their strain to a higher level and feel they are outside the norm or alienated, they may adapt by planning a mass shooting to rebel against government or the powerful in society. They redirect their goals into one of crime or deviance. Looking at all perspectives of sociology, most make useful explanations of crime and deviance but functionalist theory does this best. Considering the social inequalities that exist within a society, we can see how the powerful people of a society have the most control over what is considered deviant. Functionalist theory also gives us examples of how crime is both functional and dysfunctional as well as how strain theory explains why crimes are committed. This theory is the most useful and best explains deviance and

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