Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches to our sociological understanding of crime and deviance

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Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches to our sociological understanding of crime and deviance

This essay will be looking at the usefulness of different functionalist approaches to crime and deviance. To do this it will be looking at the psychological causes of crime by Lombroso, the role of crime and deviance in society by Durkheim, the strain to anomie, 5 adaptations study by Merton, the status theory by Cohen the Opportunity structures study by Cloward an Ohlin and the focal concerns study by Miller. When looking at these studies it will also be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of each study. This will then be followed by a conclusion.

The psychological causes of crime study by Lombroso looks at why people commit crime from a biological point of view. His research claimed that there were genetically-determined characteristics found in the "criminal classes" such as, large jaws, high cheekbones and large ears. To find this out, he carried out his study on inmates in Italian prisons. One of the main disadvantages of this study was that it was carried out on people from poor backgrounds; whose physical appearance may have been affected by poverty and poor nutrition meaning that he was basing his study on people who had been socially deprived. Another disadvantage of his study was that not all people who commit crimes go to jail, such as those who commit white collar crimes and those who are not caught. One of the main advantages of his study was that it lead to a whole list of other studies which explained crime and deviance.

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Durkheim argued that crime is inevitable, meaning that it is meant to happen. He argued that it is an important part of society as it helps social change to take place. He also argues that too much or too little crime is unhealthy for society and if there is too much or too little, crime becomes dysfunctional. He believed that in order for society to stay healthy, there must be a certain amount of crime taking place within the society. He also stated that social change depends on deviance meaning that if people are not deviant social change will ...

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