Durkheim or destructive just like most people’s views

Durkheim
is known for his Functionalist theory, and in his book the Rules of
Sociological Method (1895), he distinguished between the normal and the
pathological. Pathological means something harmful or destructive just like
most people’s views on crime. Crime has always occurred in society, and it will
always continue to. It is harmful to individuals who are victims of it, and it
is socially destructive because it breaks up communities, but Durkheim had a
different view. According to Durkheim, it wasn’t that simple and crime could
actually be something desirable, functional and when at a certain level, where
it wasn’t too high and wasn’t to low, it was an indicator of a healthy society
(McLaughlin E, 2003, pg. 65). The two sides, the right and the left, both see
crime as pathological. The left argues investments in jobs, while the right
wants harsher punishments. Durkheim argues that only when the rate of crime
becomes too high is when it becomes abnormal or pathological. To understand the
nature of crime Durkheim tells us to imagine a society of saints. The saints
don’t seek to harm anyone, or steal or do anything that we might view as a
crime. Yet this ‘perfect cloister of exemplary individuals’ as he describes
them, would respond to the most trivial of infractions with the same degree of
disgust or disapproval that we would of a murder or rape (McLaughlin E, 2003,
66). Crime will always be within society, and if it were to stop, we would just
pass new laws as to what constitutes as a criminal act.

            Durkheim says that criminal acts are
committed as a result of individual circumstances, historical experiences, or
other influences. This is because everyone’s experiences results in a different
view of morality. Not everyone thinks and acts the same the way, so what one
person views as moral, another might view it as criminal. If the authorities
enforce laws too strict, then society wouldn’t be able to change. By
challenging and breaking the law, society will be forced to change and adapt,
for example the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. The riots at the time were
seen as criminal acts at the time, but the people participating in the riots
were doing it to change future morality in society.  Some criminals are moral visionaries, where
they challenge or break the law to improve society, and other criminals commit
crimes for selfish reasons, but that is just nature. In Durkheim’s, Rules of
Sociological Method, he states crime at a tolerable level isn’t pathological at
all, and punishment should not be designed to cure it. Crime promotes social
solidarity by reminding us what is acceptable or unacceptable. Lastly, Durkheim
argues that we should not congratulate ourselves about a low crime rate,
because low crime rates could indicate a terrible economy like during the Great
Depression in the 1930’s. As we get richer and have more consumer durables like
mobile phones we should not be surprised that theft increases. As such, assault
and theft can be framed as an indicator of a healthy and vibrant economy
(McLaughlin E, 2003, 68).

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            In the Division of Labour in Society
(1893), Durkheim explains how as societies develop they tend to become more
prone to crime. Before industrialization there wasn’t a competitive work field,
and jobs were passed down through generations. Most likely where you were born
was where you died, and the people in the place that you lived shared the same
religion and outlook on life. Durkheim called this mechanical solidarity, where
the social beliefs bound people together to form a stable society. The shared
views in these societies bound together by mechanical solidarity prevented high
crime rates. As industrialization occurs, the division of labour becomes far
more complex. Economic roles are differentiated and given out on a competitive
basis, there is social and geographical mobility, and society becomes more
urbanized.  The influence of religion had
less control over society, which people would argue this resulted in higher
levels of crime. Instead of societies being bound together by shared norms and
values, Durkheim says societies were bound together more by shared economic
interdependence. He called this type of society organic solidarity. Durkheim describes
this as an anomie, a kind of normlessness where the social norms were unclear,
or societies weren’t strong enough to prevent crimes from rising to an abnormal
level.

            Durkheim’s theory on criminal
offenders and crime control are different than the majority of views today. Durkheim
distinguishes between the normal and pathological by saying crimes are
committed in hopes of social reform, where others are out of selfishness. He
doesn’t really focus on the individual victims of crime, instead he focuses on
how crime could ultimately lead to the bigger picture. For example an elderly
lady who had her phone stolen will most likely not find comfort in knowing that
having her phone stolen means the economy is going in the right direction. Majority
of people who are victims of crime want the people who committed the acts to be
punished severely, where as Durkheim would argue that unless crime is unusually high, we
shouldn’t try to solve it because it’s perfectly normal. He says punishments
for crimes should not be too weak, but at the same time not too strong where it
prevents criminal acts to happen. Durkheim says crime is inevitable, and if we
try to stop crime all together it will result in society not being able to
evolve in the future. Overall, Durkheim’s view of crime is that crime in
moderation is essential for society to be able change, adapt, and evolve.