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Different Sociological Perspectives on Crime

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Introduction

Different Sociological Perspectives on Crime 1.There are several different sociological explanations from different perspectives: the Functionalist perspective, Labelling perspective, Sub-culture perspective and the Marxist perspective used to explain crime and deviance. 2.The main features to each perspective are described below: Functionalist Perspective Functionalists believe that crime is best analysed by looking at society as a whole and that we should not look at the individual person, and that the way society is structured explains the cause of crime. They believe that crime has a function in society and that we need it, even though functionalists feel strongly about shared values and consensus to keep society together. This said they think that the existence of crime brings other parts of society together because, we come together to stop crime e.g. neighbourhood watch or a paedophile moving into a town: all different types of people would get together in the way of marches and the signing of petitions. This therefore helps to promote shared values and social order. Functionalists believe crime has its function, if it did not prisons/punishment and the police would therefore not have a function in society. Theorists who follow this perspective are Durkheim and Albert Cohen. Sub-Culture This approach explains deviance in terms of the subculture of social groups. They believe all there are many different social groups who have their own norms and values that are different from other social groups e.g. some groups of criminals may have norms that promote and reward criminal behaviour. Other members of society may think that that behaviour is morally wrong and will condemn them. This theory alleges that deviance is the result of people conforming to the values, norms of their own social group. Members of subculture are not really that different to other members of society they might speak, dress the same have similar values about family, but their subculture is effectively dissimilar from the culture of society as a whole to make them commit acts that are seen as deviant. ...read more.

Middle

In many societies there are the opportunities to reaching these goals, but in America the greatest way of becoming wealthy and a success is by getting a good education, working hard, determination and ambition. In a balanced society an equal emphasis is placed on cultural goals and institutionalised method, and members of society are happy with both. But in America it is more important to be successful rather on how you got there. So this means that America has become volatile and unbalanced. So as a result Americans are inclined to do away with the 'rules of the game' and try to be successful by any other means available. When the rules no longer operate, a situation of anomie results. Merton proposed five ways that people respond to their cultural goals; Conformity - the most common response, people in society conform to success goals and the normal way of reaching them. Innovation - We accept the goals of society but we reject the normal ways of getting them. We would turn to crime and deviance to gain wealth and Merton said 'that people in the lower classes would pick this route'. People likely to pick this route are employed in lower paid jobs and have less qualification. Since their way is blocked, they innovate; turning to crime this gives better rewards than legal ways. Ritualism - When we reject the goals in our society, but follow our social norms and values, this then stops us from turning to crime. Unable to innovate we have no alternative but to scale down our success goals. So we stay where we are and do the same things in a ritualistic way. Retreatism - this response is not a common one and according to Merton applies to 'psychotics, pariahs, outcasts, vagrants, vagabonds, tramps alcoholics and drug addicts'. They believe in their cultural goals and the legal ways of achieving them, but are unable to reach goals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Showing that the lack of prosecution of industrial negligence and bad working practices her Marxist view and that the state supports the capitalist status quo, placing the causes of crime onto the person or poor groups, as an alternative to concentrating on economic relationships and power as the root cause for the prosecution (or not) of offenders. An example of this was when Nick Leeson managed to loose �6billion of investor's money. No trustees, directors or manager of Berling's bank ever got prosecuted for not keeping a system in place, but negligence, sheer greed and profiteering have all been mentioned for the reason it happened and the "rogue trader" was allowed to trade as he did. 2.Strengths to Merton's study include: he showed how the culture and structure of society generate deviance. Showed that goals in the USA are reached at the expense of institutionalised means, this creates a tendency towards anomie. His theory can help to explain the rise in the crime rte in post-communist Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Russia. Weaknesses to Merton's study include: It neglects the power relationship in society as a whole that deviancy and crime occurs. He did not carry his analysis e.g. who makes the laws and who benefits from them. He also assumed that there was a value consensus in American society and that people only commit crime under its structural strain. Strengths to Stanley Cohen's study include: the material used was good secondary date e.g. relevant local and national newspaper reports and radio and TV news broadcasts and a load of local publications like parish news letters and council minutes from all the towns affected. He showed that there was a connection between crime and the media. Weaknesses to Cohen's study include: his research results state that these teenage subcultures represented a rejection of the work ethic and they were turned off by dead end jobs but here I believe is a weakness as many of the Mods and Rockers were from middle-classed backgrounds and would not have been able to afford scooters and motorbikes if they had rejected working. ...read more.

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