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Assess the usefulness of functionalist theories in explaining crime and deviance

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´╗┐Assess the usefulness of functionalist theories in explaining crime and deviance (21 Marks) The functionalist approach to analysing deviance and the causes of crime looks at society as a whole. It explains crime and deviance by saying that the source of deviance lies in the nature of society itself rather than in psychology or biology. It should be noted that functionalists see deviance as an inevitable and necessary part of society. Some also consider deviance to have positive aspects for society. In this essay we will assess the usefulness of these functionalist theories, and look at how it helps us explain crime and deviance. ...read more.


The punishment of the offenders can act as a deterrent to others. This is through things such as public humiliation and punishments such as public execution. Also, the criminal justice system creates a ?spectacle? which portrays crime as wrong. However, there are problems with Durkheim?s theory. This is because there is no way to tell what is ?too much? crime to be useful and what is the ?right amount of crime? for society. Durkheim also suggested that it was possible for people to use their power to change laws about what is seen as crime and deviance. This is through things such as the media with regards to rape within marriage, the rights of the woman etc. ...read more.


Not everyone who commits a crime is doing it to earn money. Where does this fit into Merton?s theory? Some people were brought up with crime and turn to crime as a way of life. Others take drugs or steal just for the ?fun? of it. There are problems with each Functionalist approach to assessing crime and deviance in society as what fits on criminal and one crime doesn?t necessarily fit another. Therefore, what causes crime can?t be properly defined in society, especially since society is constantly changing, as are the norms and values within society. We can conclude by saying that functionalist theories are useful to describe crime and deviance, to a certain extent. It does have more flaws than positives. ...read more.

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