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CRM302 (Criminological Theories)- Lecture 5

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CRM 302
Stephen Muzzatti

CRM302 – Week 5: “Durkthim and Anomie” Monday, February 11 , 2013 - Emile Durkheim - Anomie & Understanding Anomie - Durkheim later on - Robert Merton - Merton’s Paradigm of Deviant Behaviour --- Emile Durkheim - not a criminologist, more of a sociologist who did not address that crime all that often - he wanted a fully social theory of human agency, confronting the work of Thomas Hobbes because he disagreed that people ran on passion or reason - seminal piece is the third chapter (“Rules for Distinguishing Between the Normal and the Pathological”) of his book “The Rules of Sociological Method” (1895) - believed the world wasn’t created or made up by people, but rather that society was on top of the flow chart (Society -> People) - VS Thomas Hobbs (People running on passion/reason -> embarking on the social contract -> norms are constituted -> therefore, society) - Durkheim didn’t like the social contract of social theory, he believed norms were objective - “Rules for Distinguishing Between the Normal and the Pathological” explains how crime is normal and asserts that crime is always present and present in all societies - there is an assumptions that the more “civilized” the society is, the less crime it has, but Durkheim says the opposite is true - Example: The crime rate in France between 1800 and 1895 went up 300% - Durkheim believes crime is an unavoidable phenomenon of social living - Crime in its most basic form is an act which offends collective sentiments, then the act is considered bad so we create punishments for it THEREFORE, society without crime is society without collective sentiment – how is that even possible? Collective sentiment is a characteristic of a society - A society without murder would have to collectively decide that murder is not a crime, which would mean that life wasn’t valued, and therefore the society would be a violent society because it would not have collective sentiment about this issue - So, laws are created to protect human life - Now, imagine a “society of saints” where there would still be crime because there would still be collective sentiment, just that these collective sentiments are now just like “higher standards” (perhaps having a hair out of place could now be a crime, for example) - Altruism: Stealing is a crime, but so is poor taste in fashion (you’re offending someone else) etc. - Durkheim asks us to consider crime as an articulation of another conscious; crime is an alternative reality, a way of showing change (not all change is good) is possible because not everyone has the same collective sentiment - If murder was okay in certain circumstances, and just became killings, wouldn’t we see a lot more “killings” and less “murder” even though they’re the same things? This would be a reflection of how society values human life and sees crime vindictive of social change - Example: Women’s Suffrage movements, Revolutions, regicide, desegregation, Occupy Movement = all committing crimes “Anomie” - notion of transgressive/deviant behaviour (and therefore crime) stems from unfulfilled human desires – Two Traditions - Durkheimian Tradition: used it at first to address a sense of normlessness - a society that is afflicted by anomie, and a lack of regulatory constraints to adequately control its members which sounds a lot like: - Social Disorganization, because the area most in flux has the most crime, such as the are right outside the Central Business District in Chicago School Theory): this theory suggests that crime is spatial (crime exists in a certain area at a certain time) - both are results of social change but there are important differences: - Anomie: temporal problem, afflicting entirety of a society at a given point VS Social Disorganization: spatial problem Understand Anomie 1. Durkheim’s view of “human nature” 2. The social context in which Durkheim lived (late 1800s in France) 1. Durkheim’s View of Human Nature - somewhat ambivalent and sometimes contradictory - his model of the flow chart put society on top because “human nature” is the way individuals think is all shaped by society in “The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life” and that human tendencies/inclinations cannot be realized outside of society - Example: desire – human tendency for desire; only through society awakens desire within us, but is also responsible for constraining it in us: we can have infinite desires, but society must constrain us and these constraints must me moral/just/fair and if society weren’t doing this, we would have infinite desires draining resources and inadequate constraints would lead to deviance in order to obtain the resources - Social forces like the government and religion/Church used to be responsible for regulating people, but have lost their power so society was being secular - Government simply becomes a tool of economic life instead of regulating it - When these regulatory forces lose their power (ruptures in the constraints), that’s when these appetites/tendencies are unleashed, resulting in anomic deviance 2. Social Context - Durkheim was an Ashkenazi; conservative branch of Judaism (at the time, they were like the present day Amish – very simple and not embracing technological advances even when France was under significant change like the Industrial Revolution) - his parents wanted him to be a man of religion, a rabbi, but he went through secular education/school - So, in his own life, he made the transition from very traditional to quite modern and saw it as a metaphor for what France was going through (traditional society to modern society) - Durkheim was made acutely aware of the consequences of the tradition - seminal example of anomie suicide from his book “Suicide” (1897) which is based off of 10 years of studying suicide statistics internationally - Suicide is one of the most private acts; the most individualistic decision a person can make, to end their own life - Durkheim proposed it was much more than that, and looking beyond the individual person - By looking at the suicide rates (all the people who committed suicide) there is a pattern within and between different societies and he explained this as a result of the way society was structured and the disruptions in the moral order - Example: economic downturn or economic boom - Led to re-emergence of unlimited
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