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2) Functionalist perspective
Crime is inevitable – Durkheim, a functionalist, said that crime is inevitable in society. This is because nt everyone will buy into the collective sentiments of society, and will deviate from these norms and beliefs.
Durkheim said a certain amount of crime and deviance as normal and an integral part of all healthy societies. This is because it acts as a ‘safety valve’, providing a relatively harmless way for someone to express their discontent. For example, Cohen said that “prostitution performs such a safety valve function without threatening the institution of the family”, this is because he believed this crime of prostitution could relieve the stress in a discrete way without damaging the rest of the clients life.
Clinard said crime also served the function of acting as a warning device. This is because the crime indicates that there is an aspect of society that is malfunctioning. So the crime draws attention to the problem within society, which can then be fixed.
Durkheim said that crime in society isn’t genetically produced, but is natural in society. However, he did say that too much crime was dangerous in a society, and this is an idea Merton developed.
Merton and Anomie
Merton observed American culture. He said that this society bought into the ‘American dream’ of having a successful career with lots of money, material possessions and a nice family.
Merton said that in a balanced society everyone will be happy, however, he said American society isn’t balanced, so when people struggle to live up to societies norms and values they try and find other ways of achieving this success, and act normlessly. Merton called this a strain to anomie, and it is this normless behaviour which he said caused crime in society. Consider it like someone losing in a card game, and the expectation for them to win is so high that they break the

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