Critically compare and contrast traditional marxist and functionalist perspectives on crime.

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Marxism Pages: 7 (2407 words) Published: June 9, 2003
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. Michelle Deluce Tutor: Joanne Green CRIMINOLOGY

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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. The body has it organs whereas society has it institutions. Functionalists have an interest in the functions of crime, hence the name and are interested in how crime contributes to society as a whole. There is a belief that society is based on consensus or agreement of shared beliefs and values of what is considered to be 'the norm', the views hare then passed on through socialisation. Share values and beliefs originate from the family and re-enforced through education, the media and the judiciary system. Functionalists see crime to have a function in society however not a primary one in that it provides jobs and can set standards for enforcement and laws are introduced or are looked at to further set boundaries

An amount of crime is good whereas too much crime is bad and could bring about societal collapse bringing further anarchy and confusion. I was Emile Durkheim who began the study that gave birth to functionalist approaches to crime. Merton brought about further study when he developed his 'strain theory' in the 1930's during the 'great depression' where there were large amounts of unemployment and changes occurring at that time in the US. Merton believed that crime was rife due to values not imitating what was actually happening economically at that time. Thirty years later Hirschi introduced his 'control theory', which was based upon Durkheim's early studies, he agreed with Durkheim on crime being the norm in society.

When a serious crime is committed and thus becomes public knowledge through media attention, functionalists believe that there are bonds within society that are strengthened and a sense of horror is felt. Durkheim called this a 'collective conscience', however not all people follow the masses in mutual horror and can prefer their own needs to those of others. Durkheim had a belief in crime and deviance not

Michelle Deluce Tutor: Joanne Green CRIMINOLOGY

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just being the makeup of a few 'sick' individuals but is part of society and performs an important function. But there are criticisms in his theories and he doesn't completely explain why some people offend whereas others do not...
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