Asses the Usefulness of Functionalist and Subcultural Theories of Crime and Deviance for an Understanding of Why the Working Class Commit Crime

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Assess the usefulness of functionalist and subcultural theories of crime and deviance for an understanding of why working class people commit crime (21 marks)

Functionalists see society as based on shared norms and values which societies members are socialised into, known as a value consensus. This produces social solidarity, binding individuals together into a unit that works with other units to keep society running; it has been compared to the parts of the human body in the organic analogy.

Durkheim was one of the first functionalists to investigate crime, he sees crime as part of a healthy and forward moving society; and that crime is inevitable in a modern society. This is because there is a not only a gender divide in labour, but a specialised divide in labour which causes diversity within subcultures. Because of this, the members of these subcultures become increasingly different from one another the shared norms and values become less clear. Durkheim describes this as Anomie, a state in which society becomes normless.

Durkheim also believes all crime starts a deviance; this is because for changes to occur, individuals must challenge the current and accepted values of society. This will appear deviant at first, but as time passes could become the norm, or if it is supressed the individuals who challenged society will become outcasts.

In the eyes of Durkheim, working class people commit crime because they want to see a change within society, this means that, in their eyes, society is biased towards those who have the ability to earn more and can afford luxury things. This leads to working class people committing crimes such as theft or vandalism due to feeling as though they are hard done by society, and as such lead to a change in the value consensus of society.

A criticism of Durkheim however is that he says that society requires a certain…...

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