Last Updated on January 18, 2019 by Karl Thompson
Introduction/ The basics
- Consensus Theory – Social Institutions generally work, social control is good, crime is dysfunctional (bad)
- Closely related to Subcultural Theories
- 1890 -1940s
Durkheim’s Functionalist Theory
- Crime is natural and inevitable, society needs crime.
- There are three positive functions of crime – social integration/ social regulation/ social change
Hirschi’s Social Control/ Bonds of Attachment Theory
- Crime is most common amongst individuals who are detached from society
- Four types of attachment – Commitment, Involvement, Attachment, Belief
- Correlation between truancy, single parent households, unemployment and crime
Merton’s Strain Theory
- There is a strain between society’s cultural value system (valuing money) and the social structure which fails to provide opportunities for everyone to achieve these goals legitimately.
- In times of strain, there are five adaptations
- Three of these are deviant – innovation, retreatism and rebellion.
Institutional Anomie Theory (IAT)
- Merton’s Strain Theory on steroids.
- The cultural value system of achieving monetary success has now the core value taught in every institution – The media, and education especially.
Overall Evaluations of Functionalist and Strain Theories of Crime
||X –Can’t explain hidden crimes such as Domestic Violence
X – Durkhiem – Fails to ask ‘Functional for whom’ – ignores victims (Left Realism)
X – Can’t explain elite crimes, elites are attached (Marxism)
X – Ignores Power and Labelling, doesn’t recognise that crime stats are socially constructed and elite crimes happen but generally aren’t recorded. (Interactionism)
X – Can’t explain recent decrease in crime.