• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches to our sociological understanding of crime and deviance

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches to our sociological understanding of crime and deviance This essay will be looking at the usefulness of different functionalist approaches to crime and deviance. To do this it will be looking at the psychological causes of crime by Lombroso, the role of crime and deviance in society by Durkheim, the strain to anomie, 5 adaptations study by Merton, the status theory by Cohen the Opportunity structures study by Cloward an Ohlin and the focal concerns study by Miller. When looking at these studies it will also be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of each study. This will then be followed by a conclusion. The psychological causes of crime study by Lombroso looks at why people commit crime from a biological point of view. His research claimed that there were genetically-determined characteristics found in the "criminal classes" such as, large jaws, high cheekbones and large ears. To find this out, he carried out his study on inmates in Italian prisons. One of the main disadvantages of this study was that it was carried out on people from poor backgrounds; whose physical appearance may have been affected by poverty and poor nutrition meaning that he was basing his study on people who had been socially deprived. ...read more.

Middle

This places some people in a position where they are tempted to use any means in achieving their goals and getting to the top. Merton also identified 5 main adaptations to common goals. These are Conformists, Ritualists, Retreatists, Innovators and Rebels. Merton claims that crime and deviance is a result of a lack of balance between means and goals during periods of social change. One of the good points about this study was that it was one of the first attempts to explain crime and deviance in terms of culture. This is useful as it helps us to understand the cultural reasons for why people commit crimes. It was also good because it provided an alternative to the previous biological and psychological theories. An advantage was that it explained crime and deviance in terms of working class people and it also started the development of further theories. However there are also disadvantages to this theory one of the main ones being the fact that there are so many unanswered questions such as why it's not all people that adopts the deviant adaptations. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miller's study on focal concerns approached the situation differently suggesting that deviancy was linked to the culture of lower-class males. He argued that working class males have six 'focal concerns' that are likely to lead to delinquency; these being trouble, toughness, smartness, fate and autonomy. Miller believed that young lower class males were pushed towards crime and also that we should see delinquent sub-cultures as an independent cultural phenomenon that is an extension of the lower (working) class. A criticism of this argument is that it provides little evidence to show that these are specifically working class values as they could easily apply to males of higher class. In conclusion we see that all together, that despite their flaws, all the theories have distinctive positive aspects which all help to explain why people commit crime and deviance. However, what they lack is an explanation to why those in higher classes commit white collar crimes. They all mainly focus on the crimes that are committed by those of the working class ignoring that fact that there is a high amount of crime being committed by those who are higher up in class. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lola Ake A2 Sociology ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Crime & Deviance section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Crime & Deviance essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the Usefulness of Official Crime Statistics to a Sociological Understanding of Crime

    4 star(s)

    These showed that the BCS under reported the higher levels of victimization of ethnic minority groups and domestic violence. Croall [1998] The Interactionist discards the accuracy of crime statistics and instead focuses on understanding the way they are socially constructed.

  2. Sociological Theories on Crime and Deviance

    STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES The strength of conflict theory is its insight into the significance of power relationships in the definition, identification, and handling of deviance. It links the commission, perception and treatment of crime to inequality in society and offers a powerful analysis of how the injustices of society produce

  1. describe four studies relating to crime and deviance - each from a different perspective. ...

    For example, terrorists are not inspired to be deviant as the result of being labelled - but rather motivated by political or religious beliefs. (Haralambos, 2000, page 378) New left realism emerged in the 1980's and could be described as the medium between the 'left idealists' and the 'right realists'.

  2. Outline and Assess Subcultural Theories of Crime and Deviance

    Many of the approaches outlined above seek to explain deviant behaviour through rational reasoning as to why subcultures have developed. Some recent postmodern approaches reject this explanation for behaviour. Katz (1988), argues young men get drawn into crime, because it is seductive and thrilling, echoing Cohen.

  1. Critically assess the contribution of labelling theory to an understanding of crime and deviance

    as these are what the police as the 'bad' areas with high crime rates. They then have to decide whether to stop and interrogate an individual, they will stop someone if, in the polices opinion, they are 'suspicious', 'strange' and 'wrong'.

  2. Assess functionalist theories of crime and deviance.

    in schools then instead of punishing everyone who truants rules can be changed so that less people truant in the future, such as decreasing the amount of homework. Merton also developed Durkheim's concept of anomie by using the strain theory.

  1. Compare and Contrast the Main Sociological Theories of Deviance.

    This is the approach of social positivists. These were theories of the delinquent subculture. However, these theories were developments of earlier work, notably the work of Durkheim and Merton. Durkheim rejected the definition of crime, which would constitute the commonsense of any society, that crimes are acts that are harmful to society.

  2. Assess the usefulness of consensus theories for an understanding of crime and deviance in ...

    A similar theory is that of Ned Polsky (1976) who said that pornography 'channels' a variety of sexual desires away from alternatives such as adultery, which poses a threat to the stability of the family. These ideas would outrage some contemporary feminists, especially some Marxist feminists as Davis' ideas on

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work