Sociology Is The Study Of Individuals In Groups
In this essay three perspectives will be assessed. How society operates in the view of these perspectives. Also, scrutinizing theories on the subject ‘crime and deviance’ aiming to outline how each perspective grasps the matter. Before one can observe society, one needs to take into account the ways in which it can be viewed. Perspectives that focus on social systems, are known as macro perspectives. Alternatively, the micro perspective, focuses on social action of the individual. (Taylor et al, 1995).
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One of The first major perspectives examining society is Functionalism. Functionalism begins with the observation that behavior in society is structured”. Harmless and Holbrook, 1 980, p. 14). They argue that Functional prerequisites such as hospitals, schools and families among many more, bind society together. In a functionalist society these integrate with one another to form a value consensus. Furthermore, it is essential they interrelate at a basic level for society to survive. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980). Therefore, society is maintained by the value consensus and its cohesion of working parts.
Mile Druthers founder of functionalism, observed societies values and norms portraying them as social order. Laws establish with the value consensus. He developed his argument by saying crime is an inevitable and normal way of social life. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980). He added to this he states that social change begins with some sort of deviance, just enough deviance benefits society and keeps it healthy; it reinforces right and wrong in societies collective conscience. However too much on the other hand would cause a state enormousness described as anomie.
For example, Morton (1968, cited in Harmless and Holbrook, 1 980) states since members of society are placed differently, such as social class, simultaneously having different collective enticements, too much imbalance; not enough prosperity and not enough opportunities, would cause an anomic state. As a consequence leading to a break down of societies values and norms. Rioting in such a case would be anomic state or the uprising of a government. Functionalism has declined as modern theories better explain society. Functional macro sociological analysis disregards small areas of society.
Also, damaging criticisms arose with the ideas of human beings as products of the social system. (Taylor et al, 1995). Another macro perspective on society is Marxism. Named after Karl Marx a German sociologist. E described a theory of observing society that offered a radical alternative to functionalism and the nature of social stratification. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980). Marx examined how society works and explained how history has unfolded paying close attention to capitalism. Marx was troubled with the effects of capitalism and was very concerned to get rid of it. Trainer, 2010). Marx suggested that society is in conflict. He observed western society was split in two. He argued that the ruling class, who had the means of production, the bourgeoisie; exploited the subject class, the proletariat. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980). Furthermore, “Marx said history is basically about the struggle between classes for dominance” (Trainer, 2010, p. 1). The ruling class ideology in Mar’s argument, only benefited the bourgeoisie; the distortion of reality, falsifying society binding members together with a false consciousness.
Thus, helping to maintain the superstructure in the aid of the ruling class. When observing Mar’s theory behind crime and deviance, one understands no value consensus express laws comparable to functionalism. Mar’s argues that laws are passed by state government, reflecting the interests of ruling class ideology, rather an authoritarian consensus. As follows a false commitment is shared by society as a whole considering laws only benefit the ruling minority. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980). A classic case study portraying this argument is Stuart Hall’s ‘policing the crisis’.
Hall raises the argument of ‘mugging; a new term from America that was used by the media to label an attempted robbery, murder scene in 1972 In Britain. He argued the term is now affixed to any type of crime particularly applied at black youth. From that point onwards it becomes symptomatic Of a ‘moral panic’. (Hall et al, 1978). Furthermore, Halls statistics show the term ‘mugging’ appearing 60 times in newspapers the following year. (Hall et al, 1978) It can be said that the media’s moral panics, run by the ideology of the ruling class, camouflaged the economic crisis that emerged during the sass’s.
Subsequently, the moral panics allowed the state to enforce policing methods legitimizing random stops targeting black youths. Thus, more control over the subject class. Social action theories offer a drastic alternative view on society to the above. Interpretative perspective emphasis is on individuals action, rather than the deterministic approach structured by social systems, social action focuses on small scale interaction. (Taylor et alarm 1995). The focus is on individual actions that are constructed by society through meaning and interpretations.
For instance a newly wed husband and wife will understand the role a whole lot better by understanding the meaning of the term. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980) For Max Weber, founder of social action theory believed these meanings were attached to a social actions carried out by an individual. He expanded on his theory by stating self concepts are a result of interpretations there described them as. Individuals are more likely to carry out a behavior after being perceived in a particular way. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980).
Furthermore, Interactions defines the construction of meaning through analysis. It can be said that language, gestures and appearance will govern the interpretation of the context the actions uphold. It can be said that individuals depends on symbolic symbols to define and understand meanings in society through relating, interpreting and making sense. (Taylor et al, 1995). Howard Becker, applied labeling theory in his attempt to define crime and evince to social action. His argument consisted of deviant behavior, only existing when perceived and defined as such.
JP until it has been labeled by a member of society there was no deviance. The deviant is one to whom the label has successfully been applied; deviant behavior is behavior that people so label. ” Becker (1 963, cited in Harmless and Holbrook, 1980, p. 346). Becker develops his argument stressing the importance of the public identification of a deviant. As stated above, self concepts can change individuals to the label applied, in this case, accepting the deviant label may in urn, cause the individual to commit more deviance. However Becker states this theory may not be inevitable. Harmless and Holbrook, 1980). A criticism with interactions approach is the labeling term for deviance is too deterministic. Having been founded primarily on ideas based on free will through social individual action; the person labeled with the term deviant, will be expected to commit further deviant activities. (Harmless and Holbrook, 1980). However, Becker does reject this barrage of criticisms and goes on to defend his theory by saying labeling theory has been misunderstood and unfairly criticized. Harmless and Holbrook, 1980).
Throughout the three perspectives it can be said that there are differences describing theories of crime and deviance. For instance, The Marxist view is directed through the course of history at the ruling class ideology. The manufacturing of crimes sees the subject class targeted and deemed deviant. In recent years Neo Marxist theories have developed a better understanding. The Hegemonic society as original Marxist views first stated have changed and a middle class has now emerged. It appears that although functionalism argues that crime is inevitable by all, it takes the same route of determinism hat Marxism does.
Social systems directing the course of society. Many have debated the nature of free will and these structural perspectives will suffer heavy criticisms. Adding to this, disregarding qualitative research missing out small subject areas of society will as a result, only provide a narrow based analysis. Social action theory however, grasps the idea Of crime and deviance better than the latter two. When specifically discussing crime and deviance, qualitative research better explains individuals actions rather than attaching to a system.