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Contemporary Versions of Anomie-Strain Theory.docx

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CRIM 104
Barry Cartwright

The Functionalist Approach: - Anomie theories and subculture theories related to structural functionalism - Popular sociological perspective from late 1930s into 1960s - Functionalist approach draws parallel between the social order and organic life - Society seen as series of integrated parts, each working to ensure the continuation of the organism Starting With Saint-Simon: - Saint-Simon emphasized importance of moral order - One of first to view society as functional mechanism, greater than its component parts Then Came Auguste Comte: - Invoked an organic analogy of society - Used terms like elements, organs and tissues to describe society Even Crime Serves a Function: - Durkheim said a certain amount of crime was normal – found in all societies - Crime helped to define/shape collective consciousness - Crime and punishment maintained the society’s fundamental values and preserved its moral order Talcott Parsons: - Started the concept of “structural functionalism” - Pre-eminent sociological paradigm during 1940s and 1950s - The Structure of Social Action (1937) - The Social System (1951) Parson’s Four Functional Imperatives: - Adaptation: society had to adapt to its environment to obtain resources necessary for its survival - Goal attainment: society had to define/prioritize its goals, and then strive to achieve them - Integration: society had to regulate/coordinate the inter-relationships of its subsystems - Latency: society had to maintain conforming behaviour by resolving strains, and motivating individuals to conform The Four Parts of the Social System: - Function was to maintain society (help it survive) and to ensure well-being of its members - Family produces children, teaches them fundamental values (e.g. belief in merits of hard work, regard for property, respect for others) - Schools provide basic knowledge and work skills, and re-enforce fundamental values - Religion supports basic values, provides spiritual avenue to cope with social and personal problems - Economy allows individuals to work, earn and spend A Happy Balance: - Society/social system strive for balance or stability, often referred to as equilibrium - Watch words are consensus or integration Merton’s Anomie and Deviant Behaviour: - If society is functional, then why do we have problems like social unrest, drug addiction, drop- outs and crime? - Merton deliberately distanced himself from Freudian or psychological explanations - Merton used term “anomie” to describe dysfunction between (or malintegration of) culture and social structure (Legge and Messner, 2010) Merton’s Manifest and Latent Functions: - Manifest functions are those that society intends, and are set out as formal institutional goals - A manifest (or intended) function of Criminal Justice System is to punish criminals so that they (and others) will obey the laws - Another manifest function of Criminal Justice System is to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders, so that they can once again become functional members of society - Latent functions are those that society does not intend; they are usually informal, and may have undesirable outcomes - An unintended or latent function of Criminal Justice System is providing its satisfied customers with a training ground for future criminal activity The Social Context of Subcultural Theories: - Emerged during the 1950s - Relative prosperity, compared to the Great Depression (the Dirty Thirties) - Relative peace and prosperity, compared to WWII, which lasted from 1939 until 1945 Albert Cohen: - Wrote Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang in 1955 - Cohen studied with Robert Merton at Harvard, and Edwin Sutherland at Indiana A Logical Connection: - Connection to Merton’s strain theory, and to Chicago School’s concern with inner city slums, social disorganization and delinquent youth gangs - Connection to Sutherland’s theory of differential association; Cohen saw his work as elaboration on some of unresolved issues regarding transmission of cultural values Gang Subcultures: - Gang delinquency most prevalent amongst lower class males - Nonutiliarian, malicious and negativistic behaviour - Short term hedonism, often causing discomfort to others Status Frustration: - Members of lower class unable to achieve social status, because they lacked the means - Would come up against middle class standards at school, and find they couldn’t meet them Reaction Frustration: - Cohen viewed delinquent behaviour as a type of reaction formation – a hostile reaction to an adverse environment (i.e. to status frustration) - Also viewed delinquency as a collective solution – the delinquent subculture established new cultural norms, redefined the meaning of status, and set new types of acceptable behaviour or conduct Picking on the Lower Classes: - Cohen briefly talked about female delinquency as being a sexually-oriented response to status frustration associated with sexual double standards - Also talked about delinquency on part of middle class males as a reaction to anxiety about their masculinity Is it Really a Theory: - Structural or strain theory – points to lack of instit
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