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The Functionalist School of Criminology - Essay Example

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The functionalist school of criminology is the branch of sociology that deals with the functionalist perspective (also functionalism), which is one of the main theoretical perspectives of sociology. …
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The Functionalist School of Criminology

Download file to see previous pages... In trying to achieve an understanding of the role society plays to acquire social stability, functionalism splits society into many constituent parts, and defines what role each part contributes to the cause. Concisely, functionalism argues that society is not the sum of its parts, but rather every constituent part of society defines it because each has some effect on the overall society, and that all these parts rely on each other.
The application of this argument is as follows: a state provides education for children coming from a family. The family obviously pays taxes to the state, taxes that the government runs on. Here, the family relies on the state to educate the children so they grow up to support families of their own. If these children do not break the law, they start producing and supporting the state as well. Such a cycle brings about stability in society. However, if at any one point the above order is interrupted, it breaches norms, meaning crime or deviant behaviour occurs. This in turn forces certain constituent parts of society to adjust and adapt in restoring productivity, stability, and order. Greek (2005) explains that similarly to various other sociological models like conflict theory, functionalist perspectives deal with crime implications and control policies, trying to ascertain the reasons behind criminal actions. Functionalism however does not shift the responsibility from offenders but rather pushes for appropriate sanctions and repressing criminal activities. Greek adds that functionalism has in some instances positive view of some deviant behaviours, and that ordinary crime does not threaten social order, but society cannot function properly without criminal behaviour and the responses that come with it. Crime, as Greek reveals, is an indicator of well-being in the social order, although too high levels of it indicate certain problems such as an increase in anomic conditions. When crime occurs, the society responds negatively, and from that, the people know the boundaries of behaviour that is acceptable. To him, crime is, and forms part of all social systems in existence. Emile Durkheim conducted studies on suicide and later came to present his findings that suicide is more of a social factor than it is an individual one. Contrary to the negative perception that suicide often receives, Durkheim defends suicide in his definition of it as “any case of death caused by a direct or indirect negative or positive act by the one committing it, who obviously knows the result.” In his studies, he came up with facts about suicide such as it varies with place and time. According to Durkheim, there is a possibility that all suicides occur only if there is an instance of insanity in the victim. Evidence of mental alienation appears in most of the cases of suicides, alienists claim, and to better understand this, they classified all cases of suicide as per their way of occurrence. One, there is maniacal suicide, which occurs due to delirious conceptions or hallucinating, that is, the victim commits it so as to try and escape from some imaginary disgrace or danger, or in another instance, to obey orders from a mysterious “highness.” Then there is melancholy suicide that comes from exaggerated sadness and depression, which causes the victim to lose sense of any bonds connecting them to people and his belongings. In short, everything in life appears boring and painful, both of which are chronic feelings that lead to thoughts of suicide. This self-destruction is gradual, and builds over time. Thirdly, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Demonstrated, will be the basic tenets of both theories in relation to crime with a few instances that will serve to show how these theories explain deviance. Both theories will also be examined insofar as their limitations. It will be argued that among the theories in question, conflict theory is more comprehensive than functionalism, but still limited in terms of the scope of explanation.
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