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Critically evaluate Functionalist approaches to crime and deviance - Illustrate your answer with reference to the sub-cultural explanations of juvenile delinquency.

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Introduction

Critically evaluate Functionalist approaches to crime and deviance. Illustrate your answer with reference to the sub-cultural explanations of juvenile delinquency. Functionalism sees the various parts of society to be interrelated, and together they form a complete system. To understand any part of a society, the parts must be seen in relation to society as a whole. Functionalists see behaviour in society to be structured. This means that relationships between members of society are organised in terms of rules. Society is based upon a value consensus that provides guidelines for behaviour that are translated into more specific directives in terms of roles and norms. They see society as having a need for functional pre requisites that need to be met in order for the society to survive. Functionalists look at all societies and say in every, past or present, deviance has always been present. This deviance isn't of interest to sociologists, therefore doesn't have to be sociologically explained. Durkheim argued that crime is an inevitable and normal aspect of social life. This is due to the fact that not every member of society can be equally committed to the collective sentiments, since people are exposed to different influences. Therefore it is impossible to be alike. ...read more.

Middle

Juvenile delinquency became apparent in the 1950's where a range of acts started to appears like truancy and vandalism to joyriding, gang fighting and drug taking. These sorts of crimes are associated with young people known as "youth culture." Merton said that these sorts of crimes happened because these people felt like losers, however this wasn't the case, since delinquency was carried out for the fun of it; to show off in front of their friends. Albert Cohen, a structural functionalist conducted an observation study on teddy boys. He found out that working class males were the ones who carried out the delinquent acts and that it was a youth phenomenon. He does agree with Merton that they are innovators, who grew up with the American dream and are "losers." But the problem with Merton is that he says that individuals feel dislocated and then deviate, but they don't do this individually according to Cohen but "collectively"- in a subculture. Deviance isn't an individual response, but a group thing that experience anomie and frustration. Merton also said that they're innovators, but they aren't really, since they aren't making money and neither are the retreatists- it doesn't explain non-instrumental crimes that is done for a laugh. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lastly they like to let themselves go in that they like to gamble and do such things that the middle class wouldn't do. It was seen by miller that working class children act out these focal concerns in an exaggerate manner and at the inappropriate times. To him, he saw the reason for this not to be down to status frustration but status integrity. Because of extended schooling, identities became less centred and there became a need to build an identity, and all of these focal concerns lead to dysfunctional delinquency. However this can all be criticised using the Marxists critique they say that mainstream culture reflects the culture of the ruling class, which is imposed on us, and is designed to socialise us into this culture so exploitation can be facilitated and at the same time rendering exploitation invisible. They do not see delinquency as dysfunctional but endemic, and that is a logical ongoing consequence of capitalism. They reject the concept of cultural deprivation and say that the culture of the working class is a logical consequence due to their relationship to the forces of production. In conclusion, it can be seen that functionalists see crime and deviance as a functional phenomena a low level. That it enhances social integration for the maintenance of society. However, they see larger crimes as dysfunctional whereby people have not been adequately socialised into the social structure. Rozina Shafi February 2003 ...read more.

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