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Critically Compare and Contrast Functionalist and Traditional Marxist Perspectives On Crime.

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Michelle Deluce Tutor: Joanne Green CRIMINOLOGY Page 1 CRITICALLY COMPARE AND CONTRAST FUNCTIONALIST AND TRADITIONAL MARXIST PERSPECTIVES ON CRIME There are many theories on why crime exists as well has who is committing the crimes and the underlying reasons behind it The two main perspectives being Traditional Marxist and Functionalist both with different views they share very little in common, however they do agree that society shapes the individual and not the individual that shapes society. What is meant by that is that we are all products of our upbringings and learn through socialisation what our beliefs are, what we agree on personally and often shared beliefs and the understanding of what is 'the norm; through our primary interaction with others beginning at home and continuing onto schooling and work. Our beliefs aren't always set in stone and can change through time and growth and the interaction with others once outside the family domain. There are many explanations beginning with Durkheim who was a functionalist, there is Merton who doesn't totally agree with Durkheim but adopted his theory on 'Anomie' and made it his own. In addition there is Hirschi whose theories mirrored that of Durkheim's and before concluding, Marxist view on crime will be looked at. The Functionalist view on crime and society is likening it to the human body to explain it functions. ...read more.


He created his own model of explanation and the type of bonds we care within society that consisted of four elements; Attachment, deals with how we care for others or have an inability not to have concern, typically a psychopath. The second element commitment, based on personal input into our own lives, for example our work and home environment, material things we own and our children and their education in comparison to a single male living in a Michelle Deluce Tutor: Joanne Green CRIMINOLOGY Page 3 bed-sit on benefits whom is more likely to offend due to a sense of having little to lose. The third, Involvement, a business person involved in legitimised dealings is less likely to offend due to having little time to do so. Then there is belief, a person who abides by the rules and conforms to the norms and acceptable standards within society and perhaps is totally against rule breaking. Marxism has a different slant on why crime exists and the origins of law enforcement compared to the functionalist view. Marxism began with Karl Marx and others after him have shared his view and added their own. His idea in the class divide between the richest in society or the bourgeoisie and those on the lower rung of the societal ladder, the working class, has long been documented. ...read more.


Both concepts were interesting and provided thought and the pioneers of both set precedence and have long since been adapted by others. Hirschi seemed a little too vague in his explanations with very little backup in his theories and his model of four elements seemed flawed. How could he say that a law-abiding person isn't likely to offend and he offers no proof to support his suggestion? He also states that a businessperson would be too involved in business matters not to commit a crime, Marxist would totally disagree, and they would say that he is more likely to be deviant within a corporate structure although should it occur it is highly unlikely the public would be made aware of it. However the question of mental state of an individual hasn't even been raised by any of the sociologists to explain why a person may offend. Merton seemed to make a lot of sense but there seemed to be something missing in his explanations on why crime exists why some commit and others don't, perhaps the reality is there is no definite answer on why it exists. Michelle Deluce Tutor: Joanne Green CRIMINOLOGY Page 5 BIBLOGRAPHY Durkheim, E (1985/1987) Suicide: A Study in Sociology, London: Routledge Erikson, K J. (1966) Wayward Puritans, New York: Wiley Hirschi, T. (1969) Causes of delinquency, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press Merton, R. (1938) Social Structure and Anomie, American Sociological Review, Vol 3, 672-683 ...read more.

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