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Explain & Evaluate Functionalist, Marxist & Interactionist Theories of Crime & Deviance

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Introduction

´╗┐Explain & Evaluate Functionalist, Marxist & Interactionist Theories of Crime & Deviance This essay will examine the different theories that three major sociological perspectives have on crime and deviance. The functionalist view of crime sees crime as being inevitable as well as universal, which produces potential positive functions for society e.g. uniting society to condemn wrongdoers suggesting not all crime, is negative. In contrast Marxists view crime as being inevitable due to capitalism and the inequality it produces suggesting that it?s ?criminogenic? and most crimes are directly a response to the exploitation by the ruling class. Interactionists view crime differently from the two structural theories by looking at how interactions between individuals lead to crime e.g. negative labels being attached to an individual which could result in deviant behaviour. Functionalists see crime as normal as it is an integral part of all healthy society and the main reasons why crime is in every society is due to not everyone being equally effectively socialised into the shared norms and values of society so their prone to deviance; known as anomie. The other reason is due to different values in subcultures that deviate from the dominant views of mainstream society. The positive functions that Durkheim suggests that crime has on society are boundary maintenance; where crime produces a reaction from society uniting its members in condemning wrongdoers and reinforcing a shared value consensus. ...read more.

Middle

however a lot of working class people experience a lot of strain but don?t commit crime, also middle class people don?t experience a lot of strain but still commit crime. This links to another weakness of Merton?s theory as he takes official statistics at face value which over represent petty working class crimes and underrepresent white collar crime so there is a potential lack of validity. Marxists would also argue against Merton for ignoring the power that the ruling class has to make and enforce laws that criminalises the poor and benefits the rich. Marxists theories of crime suggests that in society crime is inevitable as capitalism is criminogenic suggesting that the very nature of capitalism causes crime, as crime may be the only way to obtain the consumer goods that are constantly advertised in capitalist society, Marxists would also suggest that crime for working class people is a way to express their status frustration through crimes such as violence and vandalism. Marxists such as Chambliss (1975) suggests that law making and law enforcement only serve the interests of the capitalist class; Chambliss (1975) argues that laws to protect private property are the cornerstone of the capitalist economy; this benefits the ruling class as all assets that are privately owned are literally untouchable. Snider (1993) would also agree with Chambliss (1975) and suggests that the capitalist state is reluctant to pass laws that regulate the activities of businesses or threaten their profitability, ...read more.

Conclusion

Stan Cohen?s concept of ?Folk devils? (Cited in Giddens 2009) and moral panics can be applied to this as the negative labels constantly shared in the media may result in a group of people being classed as folk devils where they are often seen as dangerous and deviant to wider society, so they may internalise these labels and commit crime as that is what they?re accused of doing in the first place. However labelling theory can be criticised for being too deterministic and ignoring the fact that people tend to reject the negative labels attached to them and could potentially use these negative labels as a source of motivation. Another weakness of the labelling theory is that it suggests that without labels there is no deviant behaviour, however some acts can be universally looked at as being deviant or wrong even without the label e.g. paedophilia. Overall Functionalism, Marxism as well as Interactionism make interesting points on explaining why crime happens, but all fail to consider other factors that influence crime e.g. gender, age & structural factors for Interactionism. However Marxism is the best explanation for crime rates as the perspective considers why some crimes often committed by the ruling class are more likely to be underrepresented in official statistics, whilst working class crimes tend to be over represented. Marxism also considers why crime is committed by the working class as it?s down to capitalism, which explains a range of crimes e.g. violent crimes, theft etc. which other perspectives don?t give a convincing explanation for. ...read more.

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